2011 NFL Draft Results: How Nick Fairley Changes the Lions Draft Strategy
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The Lions and general manager Martin Mayhew stuck to their guns by picking the best available player on their board, when they selected DT Nick Fairley with their 13th pick. However, it has left the Lions in a situation where their biggest needs still need to be addressed heading into Rounds 2 and 3.
I thought the Lions would address their secondary in Round 1, leaving them free to look for a LB in Round 2. By taking Fairley they will probably need to use their second-round pick on a corner, because that seems to be a more pressing need. However, if one of the top linebackers is still available, the Lions could very well grab him, because overall this is a pretty weak linebacker class.
The Lions absolutely have to upgrade their back seven. By selecting Fairley, their focus in Rounds 2 through 4 will have to be on the back seven. Because of the focus on the back seven, here are some players the Lions will be looking at in Rounds 2 through 4.
Akeem Ayers, OLB. Not very likely to drop all the way to the Lions.
Aaron Williams, CB. Also, not likely to be available with the number of teams ahead of Detroit in need of secondary help.
Ras-I Dowling, CB. Depending on how things play out, I think there is a chance he could be available.
Brandon Harris, CB. Harris is a good cover corner and, depending on how things play, could be available.
What strategy should the Lions use in rounds two and three tonight?
Bruce Carter, OLB. Carter probably won't be on the board, but it we have to wait and see what kind of run starts of the second round.
Rahim Moore, S. Best safety in the class and, baring any craziness, will be off the board before the Lions pick.
Mason Foster, ILB. Very good inside linebacker, but will probably be off the board because there are a lot of teams ahead of Detroit looking for LB help.
Martez Wilson, OLB. Could be available under the right circumstances.
Johnny Patrick, CB. Should still be on the board, but has some red flags with injury and work ethic.
Kelvin Sheppard, ILB. Very solid ILB should be available if there is a run on CB.
Josh Thomas, CB. Thomas should be available later (maybe even fourth round), because of concussion concerns.
Curtis Brown, CB. Could be a third-round pick if the Lions decide to go a different direction in round 2.
Quan Sturdivant, ILB. Good athlete, and he could be an option in both the second and third rounds.
The Lions may have the option to trade down in the second round, if someone wants to make a move for the falling Da'Quan Bowers or possibly one of the QBs—if they are still on the board when Detroit picks. Trading back would allow Detroit to add another pick at a needed position.
There are a couple of players for Detroit to keep its eye on. Greg Jones ILB, a great tackler, didn't have the greatest senior season and is a little bit undersized, but the guy can flat-out play. Very fast sideline to sideline and a sure tackler. Also, Mark Herzlich. Herzlich is a cancer survivor and a great competitor. He has good instincts and is a playmaker. Herzlich is the type of guy who could start on special teams and be a valuable backup at LB. Both of these guys could be available in rounds 4 and 5 respectively.
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