Detroit Lions: 7 Players the Lions Should Target in the Draft

James Van Etten@jbvanettenContributor IJanuary 24, 2012

Detroit Lions: 7 Players the Lions Should Target in the Draft

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    There are seven players the Detroit Lions should keep their eyes on in the 2012 NFL draft as the picks begin their ascension to the podium and the corresponding players fall off the board.

    The three-day spectacle that is the NFL draft is never short on surprises. When the human factor is allowed to override analytical analysis and statistical results, the end product is about as predictable as a chocolate assortment.

    Like Forrest said, “you never know what you’re gonna get.”  Show me an early mock that correctly predicted all the surprise of the actual draft, and I’ll show you a selfless Kardashian.

    I’ve already unveiled my preliminary mock draft for the Detroit Lions based on need and coaching philosophy, but as the weeks go by and players slide up and down draft boards like blackjack cards in an automated shuffler, the final outcomes are still difficult to predict.

    As a result, we need to allow ourselves to use more than a slug to target potential future Lions, but rather a shell with a spread to cover more than one player in any given round.

    Even with an allowance for error, it’s still tough to pick how the draft will unfold, but like the copy guy from Jerry Maguire said “That's how you become great man, hang your balls out there.”

    Following are seven additional players the Lions should target as they prepare for the draft.

Cordy Glenn, Offensive Guard, Georgia

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    At 6’5” and 348 pounds, it’s tough to miss Cordy Glenn in a crowd.

    The Georgia Bulldog will play his last collegiate game this weekend in the Senior Bowl, and it will be the finishing touch to an impressive final year.

    Glenn was first-team All-SEC in both the coaches and associated press voting and third team AP All-American while anchoring the SEC's third-best offense, from the left tackle position.

    What makes Glenn appealing to the Lions is he not only plays left tackle. Ideally, he would slide inside and play either guard position. He played all three spots in college.

    That type of versatility would fill a major void for the Lions while offering some leverage to Tom Lewand as he tries to keep Jeff Backus’ asking price to a minimum.

    Although his marshmallow-to-muscle ratio is not the greatest among the top prospects, he is tremendously athletic for a man his size, with good feet and long arms which will help in the passing game.

    Just as important, he uses his girth to his advantage with excellent drive-blocking skills which have been a scarcity on the Lions' front line. Plus, he’s surprisingly nimble pulling and trapping and shows great body control blocking downfield.

    Being able to create the initial push up front is critical to a successful running attack, and Glenn could help Detroit turn the defensive front four into the blocking sled as opposed to the other way around.

    Both the Steelers and Ravens would love to see Glenn slide to them, and if those two historically good drafting franchises want to get their arms around Cordy, the Lions could do much worse that stepping in and grabbing the big fella a few picks earlier.

Amini Silatolu, Offensive Guard, Midwestern State

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    I know, Midwestern State sounds like some ficticious university in a bad football movie, but where is it you ask?

    The school is in the Texas/Oklahoma border town of Wichita Falls, just a short drive from somehere and a couple exits from nowhere.

    Amini Silatolu is about to put the school on the map and become one of the Mustangs most famous alumnus.

    The 6’3”, 324-pound senior has the physical credentials to be an NFL-caliber lineman and was runner-up for the Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year as he was edged out by Jake Long’s little brother Joe Long of Wayne State.

    Run blocking was not difficult for Silatolu at the Division II level as he was able to use his size to overpower most of his opponents, but it’s his athleticism and nastiness that has scouts thinking he can make the transition to Sundays.

    It’s easy to fall through the cracks in the talent-rich state of Texas, and players like Jahari Evans, who come from trivial programs, bode well for Silatolu successfully making the move to guard. Plus, a good showing this week at the Senior Bowl and people will be buzzing about the small-school standout.

    Amini Silatolu will be a day-two diamond for some lucky team. The Lions should be watching.

Josh Norman, Cornerback, Coastal Carolina

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    After watching Aaron Berry give us his best impersonation of an NBA hoop in the playoffs against the Saints, the Lions should give a good look to Josh Norman.

    The senior from Coastal Carolina had an impressive week in St. Petersburg, Florida prior to the East-West Shrine game, picking off six passes in three days of practice and consequently caught the attention of several scouts.

    With his 6’0”, 203-pound frame, Norman can use his better-than-average size to jam receivers at the line to get an early advantage but has shown great footwork and technique playing off the ball with fluid hips and excellent ball skills.

    If the Lions like what they see, Martin Mayhew may have to spend a third-round pick to get the cornerback that appears to be moving up everybody’s Big Board.

Brian Quick, Wide Receiver, Appalachian State

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    No, this image has not been photo shopped, that’s Brian Quick showing some crazy hops.

    The Appalachian State star checks in at 6’4” and 222 pounds and has the physical tools to be a star.

    Big, fast and catches the ball with his hands and not his body, Quick can make the acrobatic catch but can also sink his hips and break a route off when necessary.

    Sounds crazy right? The Lions already have the best receiver in the league, and they spent a second-round pick on Titus Young last year. Could they really use another day-two pick on a wideout?

    Absolutely, if they follow their mantra of “best player available,” and Quick is being passed on because of his small-school competition and rudimentary playbook; Detroit might want to think about getting Burleson’s big contract off the books and get Quick into the Honolulu fold.

    Don’t jump off a ledge Lions fans, but Megatron still has yet to sign that long-term deal everybody is hoping for.

    Great teams prepare for the future. The Lions may need to be proactive if the circumstances present themselves.

Audie Cole, Linebacker, North Carolina State

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    You want some leverage for the Stephen Tulloch contract? Take a look at inside linebacker Audie Cole.

    The senior from North Carolina State has led the Wolfpack in tackles for three consecutive years.

    He has played both the inside and strong-side linebacker, so he comes with versatility similar to DeAndre Levy.

    Cole is an instinctive player with a nose for the ball but also plays well in pass coverage and effectively reads the quarterback’s eyes, with a noticeable ability to jam the tight end. What a novel concept.

    Plus, he’s a local kid from Monroe, Michigan. Think he’d be jacked to be part of the turnaround in Detroit?

    It’s Bobby Carpenter and Ashlee Palmer behind Levy and Tulloch. The Lions should be watching to see if they can steal Cole somewhere in the mid-rounds.

Mike Martin, Defensive Tackle, Michigan

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    The leader of the Michigan Wolverine defense who was best in the Big Ten against the run, Mike Martin could fall in a draft that's loaded with defensive line talent.

    Undersized to continue playing the nose and will not be successful in head-to-head battles, Martin is the perfect project to slide to the three technique that will allow him to utilize his ability to split the double team and get up field.

    The knock on Martin is that his arms are on the shorter side. I remember the experts saying that about J.J. Watt as well. How’d that turn out for the Texans?

    Martin is more of a rotational player than starter. But with a continuous motor and proven leadership, he would be a great find in the later rounds.

    Additionally, he worked at Ndamukong Suh's summer football camp, so Mike is getting to know the right people already.

Ryan Lindley, Quarterback, San Diego State

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    Relax Ryan, I have my eyes on you.

    A quarterback, are you serious?

    Very serious.

    The Lions should take a good look at San Diego State signal-caller Ryan Lindley.

    With prototypical size of 6’4” and 230 pounds for an NFL quarterback, Lindley is a big-armed kid with loads of potential and has been coached-up by former NFL QB Brian Sipe.

    Ryan can thread the needle on first down and then short arm a 10-yard out, his inconsistencies is what will push him down the draft board.

    But his skill set is evident, and if teams become enamored with the names of Brandon Weeden and Kellen Moore, he could be there in the sixth or seventh round. It’s not crazy for the Lions to give him a shot.

    Drew Stanton wants a more prominent role, and Shaun Hill is 32. It’s time to get some fresh blood in the red practice jerseys.

    Undrafted linemen know the pickings are slim in Motown and will be willing to sign, but no good, young quarterback will go to Detroit through free agency.

    Everybody knows this is Matthew Stafford’s team, and if the Lions want a solid backup for the future, they’re going to have to invest a pick to get one.

    If they get lucky and he plays well in the preseason, Detroit could turn a late-round pick into a third or fourth-round trade with a team desperate for a young quarterback with potential.

    Remember Tony Romo went undrafted, and that Tom Brady fella in New England was a sixth-round steal.

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