NFL Draft 2011: Detroit Lions Trading Down to Build a Playoff Contender

Joe UnderhillCorrespondent IIIApril 27, 2011

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 10: Jordan Shipley #8 of the Texas Longhorns wrestles for control of the ball with cornerback Jimmy Smith #3 of the Colorado Buffaloes for an incomplete pass on October 10, 2009 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

 Come this time of the year, pretty much every team talks about trading back and adding more picks. Martin Mayhew and the Detroit Lions have said they'll be happy to stay at 13, but also said they would consider both moving up or down. The most likely scenario for Detroit moving down is a team wanting to leapfrog other possible suitors for a player like Da'Quan Bowers, Prince Amukamara or Tyron Smith to name a few. 

If Detroit decides to move down, I would suspect it's because it has rated Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith above Amukamara. ESPN's KC Joyner made an argument that both Smith and Brandon Harris are actually better than Amukamara. I buy the argument with Smith because the reason he has slid down draft boards dealt with his off-the-field issues. 

I'm basing these trade ideas on Smith being the Lions target. Also, in terms of pick value I'm using the ESPN chart from a couple of years. The points won't always exactly line up, but they'll have to be pretty close for me to include the deal here.

Jacksonville sends its first-round pick (16th overall) and its third-round pick (190th overall) to Detroit for its first-round pick (13th overall) and fifth-round pick (154th overall). 

Jacksonville would do this to draft one of the following three players: Bowers, J.J. Watt or Amukamara. Jacksonville really needs help across its defense, and adding any of the above three would help the unit improve greatly. The extra fifth-round pick would be used to add depth along either its defensive line or back seven. This makes more sense with the Jags targeting a defensive lineman rather than Amukamara. 

Detroit would do this so it could draft Smith, the player it wants anyways, and add a third-round pick with which it should be able to draft a player who will help its linebackers group or an offensive guard/developmental tackle. Possible third-round players the Lions would probably be targeting would include LB Bruce Carter, OT Marcus Gilbert, OG John Moffitt, Jon Baldwin or a RB.

I like the Jacksonville deal quite a bit. Detroit would trade a fifth-round pick for a third-rounder and would end up with possibly the second best corner in the draft anyways. I like the prospect of offensive line help with one of the third-round picks. Getting a receiver like Baldwin would help further open up the passing offense in Detroit. If the Lions didn't use their second-round pick on a LB, I would expect one of the third-round picks to be a LB.

New England sends its first-round pick (17th overall) and third-round (92nd overall) to Detroit for its first-round pick (13th overall).

For New England, this would be a move to get past Miami in order to select Mark Ingram. The running game is one of the few areas that could use improvement. The Patriots have five picks in the first 92, so giving up the last to get the best running back in the class would be worthwhile. The other player I think New England would consider is Watt. Watt is quickly becoming one of the top defensive lineman in the draft, but probably won't be on the board at 13.

For Detroit, it needs to hope Smith is still on the board. If Smith is not available, then the Lions would probably target an offensive lineman. Once again, in the third round, the Lions would be targeting depth at OL, RB, and WR.

San Diego trades its first-round (18th overall) and second-round (61st overall) to Detroit for its first-round pick (13th overall) and fourth-round (107th overall). 

San Diego would probably be moving up to target defensive end help in Watt or Bowers. The other possibility would be targeting offensive lineman Tyron Smith. San Diego also has five picks in the first three rounds, including two second-round picks, so trading one of them won't cripple it.

The farther down in the first round Detroit goes, the greater the risk someone else will leapfrog them and get Smith, who I believe should be its target. If the Lions move down and Smith and an OT they like are not available, then I would expect Detroit to try and trade down again and pick up Brandon Harris. With the extra second-round pick, I would expect Detroit to target the complementary running back to Jahvid Best. 

The Giants trade their first-round pick (19th overall), their second pick (52nd overall), and their sixth-round pick (185th overall) to Detroit for its first-round sound (13th overall), its fourth-round pick (107th overall), and its fifth-round pick (154th overall).

The Giants would do this because Dallas pasted up on Smith, and the Giants need help along the offensive line. Losing their second-round pick hurts, but it would be worth it for grabbing the best OT in the draft. The fifth- to sixth-round switch won't have a huge impact.

Detroit would make this deal, but would be taking a big gamble that it could get Smith at 19. Jacksonville may also be in the market for a corner, so this is a pretty big risk. With the extra second-round pick I would expect Detroit to target a big running back (Daniel Thomas, Mikel LeShoure) and a linebacker like Bruce Carter. The sixth-round pick would be used on depth.

Tampa Bay sends its first-round pick (20th overall), its second-round pick (51st overall), and fourth-round pick (116th overall) to Detroit for its first-round pick (13th overall), its fourth-round pick (107th overall) and its sixth-round pick (154th overall).

Tampa Bay makes the trade to guarantee it can draft either Bowers or Amukamara. This deal is the least likely, in part because Tampa needs more than just a DE or CB to contend.

Detroit would also be hesitant because it might not be able to get Smith. Gaining a second-round pick would help Detroit fill the needs at linebacker and running back.

Of the five deals, I think the Jacksonville and New England ones seem to make the most sense for both teams. Jacksonville might be really interested in Da’Quan, who might be the second best pass rusher behind Von Miller.

The Pats have lots of picks and not tons of needs. Where New England needs help is at running back and offensive line. The New England swap also benefits Detroit the most, as there is a pretty good chance either Prince or Jimmy would still be available, and they would have added a third-round pick.