The Detroit Lions draft pick of Nick Fairley added to the team’s biggest strength their defensive line and should accelerate their future sack total further towards the No. 1 ranking after finishing No. 6 in the 2010 NFL season.
The Lions talented defensive front emphasizes a weakness with all the NFC North teams, their offensive lines.
In 2010, Green Bay lead the league in sacks allowed with 51, while Chicago and Minnesota were in the middle of pack. Chicago had offensive line issues last season and have addressed it with Gabe Carmini an offensive tackle from Wisconsin.
Many busts in the NFL are due to the lack of talent around those players. Fairley would be targeted on many NFL rosters as a rookie, though that will be difficult with Ndamukong Suh lining up beside him.
Rumors have been floating around after the draft that the Lions were interested in trading up to Arizona’s No. 5 overall draft pick to add Patrick Peterson to their secondary.
The Lions would have dealt three draft picks in return for Peterson: Their first, second and fourth round selections in return for arguable the best player in the draft.
Detroit could have also stayed put and benefited from drafting cornerback Prince Amukamara, but he wasn’t the best player available and lasted until the 19th pick.
One of Amukamara’s key weaknesses for the Lions might have been a lack of elite speed to cover the burners of the NFC North.
Calvin Johnson and Sidney Rice, a free agent of the Minnesota Vikings, are the two exceptions to the NFC North, but most of the division’s dangerous wide receivers are 6'0" speedsters like Greg Jennings, Percy Harvin, Devin Hester and Johnny Knox.
The Lions have plenty of smaller, quick cornerbacks though they lack the elite shutdown player.
While Detroit GM Martin Mayhew has neglected the cornerback position in the draft, everyone should remember he was a professional cornerback himself and played across from Hall of Famer Deion Sanders at Florida State University.
Mayhew knows what attributes he wants in his secondary and Detroit was impressed with Aaron Berry, an undrafted corner out of Pittsburgh before his season ending injury in game one against the Bears.
With the pressure the defensive front four should apply, the Lions corners should be able to hang with their receivers for a few seconds and maybe an elite cornerback may not be necessary especially since they are some talented free agents.
The defensive line will be a huge recruiting point for the Lions staff when talking to free agents, having the line consistently pressuring a quarterback makes a cornerback’s job much easier.
While Fairley does not play linebacker or corner, he will provide excellent depth at an important position for the Lions.