Found April 26, 2012 on Detroit Sports 360:

Who is it going to be? Realistically, the Detroit Lions have to pick a player on Thursday. By the 23rd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, most of the high profile players will be off the board. There are more than enough holes to pick a player at any number of positions….and the defensive secondary comes directly to mind. The linebacking corp played pretty well during the season, yet behind a high powered defensive line the Lions ranked 23 against the run. Even though the offense was prolific at times, it struggled to run the ball and was very susceptible to delayed middle blitzes and strong pass rushers. On top of all that, the Detroit Lions top two running backs played 6 games between them in 2011. There are so many options, what’s a team to do?

The secondary was dismal last year. Some of the blame for that rests with the defensive front and a lack of pressure on the passer. That unit doesn’t have much depth, and the ton of injuries it suffered didn’t help. Of course  there were also those guys out there giving it there all and still getting burned. It would be nice to have someone on the corner wearing an asbestos uniform; Jenoris Jenkins seems like that guy.

The mock draft gurus seem to think he will fall to the lions at 23, what with his off field problems. He ran a 4.44 forty yard dash at the combine. He was an elite player at Florida against some big time SEC talent. But those off the field problems loom large for a team with 3 players who were just arrested for Marijuana. We count on Kyle Vanden Bosch to be the veteran voice in the locker room, and we all thought Ndamukong Suh would be the guy who carries that torch into the future. Now with Suh coming off some very dicey behavior, that isn’t seeming like the safest bet. The Detroit Lions locker room seems to be on the verge of Bengaldom…and adding a player with back to back arrests for pot might just put them over the edge, both now and into the future.

Martin Meyhew and the Detroit Lions front office have a record of picking the best player available. This year with less holes to fill they might just revert to the best player available at a position of need, a natural shift for a team now on the rise. If that holds true then we could all be looking at the very real possibility of another running back. I know, I know this running back thing is getting a little Millen-esque, but the fact is we need a running back who can stay in the game. Being effective  is a whole other set of expectations. Jahvid Best has concussion issues…major concussion issues. Mikel Leshoure is coming off an achilles tear, an injury that has ended untold careers in the NFL. So far the team hasn’t signed anyone to fill that role from the shrinking free agent pool, and they don’t have the cap space to go after any one dynamic. That leaves the door open for guys like Doug Martin from Boise State, Lamar Miller from Miami, and LaMichael James from Oregon. All of these guys are more second round picks, or first round stretches. They are all possibilities though if the Lions trade down.

Then there’s Dont’a Hightower. At 6’2” and 265 pounds he is the kind of linebacker we haven’t had here in quite a while. He’s more of a 3-4 guy by all accounts, but he has all the explosive, hard hitting, play making ability that changes offensive strategies. Another important point is both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens are targeting him. The NFL is a copycat league, and when two of the most successful teams with two of the toughest defenses in the game are after a guy you can draft, you have to take a long look at him to see if he can fit into your system. If he can’t fit into our system he can still play a part in our draft. The Ravens want this kid, so much so that Peter King has them trading up to 23 to get him. Another pick is always a plus for a team with cap issues.

The Lions need linemen too. The starters we have aren’t top of the line guys, and a few of them are near the end of their NFL roads. Behind them we have very little depth and even fewer starting prospects. There are a few nice tackles out there, but no one who’s a can’t miss starter at left tackle.  Georgia’s Cordy Glenn, and Ohio State Buckeye Mike Adams have been named as possibilities by the mock draft nation, but no one has suggested that either is the best player at their position.

Not so for Minnesota center Peter Konz. He is far and away the best center in the draft. He is that kind of Brandon Petigrew pick who is the best player at his position, and can’t be found in another draft. At 6′ 5” and 315 pounds he has been described as a road grader. He lead the way for Monte Ball all year long, and we all remember what Wisconsin’s running game looked like in the Big Ten Championship. The Detroit Lions have been giving up sacks up the middle for the past few years. The delayed middle blitz, and big strong D tackles are Dominic Raiola’s Achilles heel. The lions center is also 33 going on 34, and while he’s been a staple here in past, loyalty isn’t worth pressure up the middle getting to Matthew Stafford.

With the draft pool winnowed by 22 players, and the Lions with so many needs, it’s next to impossible to predict what’s really going to happen. The Lion’s front office has been unpredictable in the past with their picks past the first round. They have traded up and traded down. They have taken players we didn’t think we needed, and gone after guys who they felt shouldn’t have fallen. If there is one lesson that we as fans can take away from Martin Meyhew’s past drafts, it has to be that we have no idea what he’s going to do with any pick under 2.

Read more Detroit Lions NFL Draft Coverage:

Detroit Lions NFL Draft Predictions-by Chris Renwick

Lions Draft Day-It’s not the Super Bowl anymore…-Old Man Sports

DS360 Tags: NFL, Detroit Lions, NFL Draft


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