Is Eric Fisher the Detroit Lions’ best option at No. 5?
The Detroit Lions could go a number of different ways with their first-round pick, No. 5 overall, in the 2013 NFL Draft. Assuming the Lions hold onto that selection come Round 1 on Thursday night, which players are most likely to wind up in Honolulu blue and silver?
Here’s a closer look at five possibilities:
• Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon: Perhaps the most talented player in this draft, Jordan easily could be off the board before the Lions’ pick rolls around. Plus, if Jordan does make it to No. 5, the Lions might use his presence as trade bait to move down, rather than taking him themselves.
Why? Well, Jordan’s skill set translates best to a 3-4 defense — both Jordan and his former defensive coordinator at Oregon have flat out said so. Jordan would be undersized as a 4-3 end and out of place as a 4-3 OLB. The Lions’ wide-nine defensive front could negate some of his size issues at end, but there probably are better fits out there.
Like, for example …
• Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU: A much more natural fit for the Lions' 4-3 look, Ansah remains a bit of a developmental prospect but his pure athleticism still gives him enough ability to play heavy minutes early. The Lions' defense would benefit immediately from his speed and ability to get into the backfield off the edge.
Technique is an issue for Ansah, which often leaves him in a tough spot against the run. But the Lions don't ask a ton of their defensive ends there anyway, as Cliff Avril demonstrated. Plus, Ansah clearly improved along the way in his college career and, given his relatively recent introduction to football, should continue to get better.
• Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan: The local boy. There's a ton of uncertainty at the top of this draft -- well, in this draft as a whole -- with the offensive tackles leading the way. Luke Joeckel, Fisher, Lane Johnson, D.J. Fluker and Menelik Watson all could wind up going in Round 1, with Joeckel, Fisher and Johnson possibly being three of the first five picks.
So, maybe both Joeckel and Fisher will be gone by No. 5. But if not, then Fisher would be a terrific pick here. The Lions could drop him in as either their starting left or right tackle, with the option to use Riley Reiff on the other side; alternatively, Reiff could slot in at guard, with Joeckel and Jason Fox/Corey Hilliard at the other tackle.
Fisher is an impressive blocker in the run game and might be even better as a pass blocker -- a huge bonus for the passing-heavy Lions.
• Dee Milliner, CB: Forget about Monday's reports that Milliner has a ton of medical red flags. Nothing that came out that day was new, and the Lions and the rest of the league are well aware of what's going on with him. The lone legit concern is for his shoulder, which needed surgery in March.
But all that aside, Milliner is the top corner in this draft and ... well ... the Lions could use a cornerback or three. Even with Chris Houston's return, the Lions are thin at that position, barring breakthroughs from Bill Bentley and Jonte Greene. Milliner would give them another body to match up with the the Packers' loaded offense and the receivers of Chicago and Minnesota.
• Tavon Austin, WR: And here's a wild card. I'll throw another name out while we're at it: Tank Carradine, the Florida State DE, who might be this draft's best rush end and could be a huge risk-reward pick in Round 1 (especially if Detroit trades down).
But Austin's a surprise selection possibility at No. 5. There's a really good chance that Austin is the first WR off the board and it looks more and more like he'll go in the top 10. So, why not Detroit? The Lions are without a slot receiver as Ryan Broyles comes back from a knee injury, could use another weapon to take the heat off Calvin Johnson and need a return man.
Austin fits the bill on all accounts.