Sometimes even the biggest proponents of drafting for value, taking the best player available at all times, need to look at the holes on their team and react to serious areas of need.
The Detroit Lions appear to be moving into the Super Bowl contention category, but to continue that progress, they're going to have to upgrade three positions in particular, especially for long-term success.
Cornerback is a glaring weakness, offensive line is going to have some key voids in the near future and running back remains a concern because of injury rehabs.
In the second of a three-part series, here's a breakdown of the Lions' offensive-line needs heading into next week's NFL Draft:
WHY THE NEED?
As center Dominic Raiola put it, "We are getting old."
He was referring to himself and left tackle Jeff Backus. Raiola, who turns 34 on the last day of the regular season, is entering his 12th NFL season. Backus, who turns 35 in Week 3, also enters his 12th year.
Neither is a Pro Bowl talent, but they are reliable iron men. Backus has started every game, 177 straight including the playoffs, since being drafted. Raiola has missed only four games in his career.
They are certainly ready for another season, but how many more?
A quality left tackle, to assure that quarterback Matthew Stafford's blindside is secure well into the future, is an early-round possibility for the Lions if the right player is available.
A center, possibly in the middle rounds, also wouldn't be a bad direction to go.
It would give both rookies a chance to develop and be ready to take over those two spots when Backus and Raiola move on.
All five starters from a decent, but not great, O-line are returning. The two wily veterans are joined by right tackle Gosder Cherilus, a first-round draft pick in 2008, right guard Stephen Peterman, a third-round selection by Dallas in 2004, and left guard Rob Sims, a fourth-round choice by Seattle in 2006.
Trying to upgrade those positions and perhaps improve the running game in the process is an option. At the very least, the Lions could add much-needed depth to the line with a younger player who then could be ready to emerge in the near future.
USC's Matt Kalil is the only apparent elite-level offensive tackle in the draft. He'll be long gone when the Lions' No. 23 pick comes up. Kalil is projected to go No. 3 to Minnesota.
Offensive linemen are always a hot commodity on draft day and often get selected higher than their talent actually warrants. Iowa's Riley Reiff, a good tackle, is a possible top-10 choice.
Unless they trade up, the Lions would then have to wait to see who falls to them. More than likely, Stanford guard David DeCastro and Georgia tackle Cordy Glenn won't be on the board at 23.
Some other options, if the Lions do feel a pressing need to take a lineman in the first round, include Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin and Ohio State tackle Mike Adams.
Martin was responsible for protecting Andrew Luck's blind side in college, but he had a poor performance during his pro day.
Adams has the talent to be a standout tackle in the NFL, but there are concerns about consistency, durability and motivation.
If the Lions wait until the 54th pick overall to address the situation, they'll have to play the wait-and-see-who-slides game to an even greater extent.
Projected second-round possibilities who have made pre-draft visits to the Lions include Midwestern State tackle Amini Silatolu, Iowa State guardtackle Kelechi Osemele and Miami (Ohio) guard Brandon Brooks.
Peter King, a NFL reporter for Sports Illustrated and NBC, went out on a limb in his mock draft, suggesting the Lions would move down in the first round and take Silatolu, who is projected by others as more likely a late second-round pick.
Others who could be available at No. 54 include Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler, Mississippi tackle Bobby Massie, Illinois tackle Jeff Allen and Florida State tackle Zebrie Sanders.
Michigan's David Molk, who won the Rimington Trophy as the nation's top center, would be an ideal pick if he's still around in the middle rounds. A foot injury hasn't helped Molk's draft stock.
Mississippi tackle Bradley Sowell wasn't invited to the NFL Combine, but he faced stiff competition as a three-year starter in the SEC. His claim to fame is he's the guy who replaced Michael Oher, whose life was portrayed in the movie "The Blind Side."
The Lions had pre-draft visits from two less-heralded tackles, Purdue's Dennis Kelly and Harvard's Kevin Murphy. They might be considered for a last-round flyer orperhaps just as undrafted free-agent signings.
Next Lions' draft analysis: Running back.