ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) – Talent first. Needs later.
The Detroit Lions drafted Titus Young in the second round of the NFL draft Friday night to be a No. 3 wide receiver, then made a trade to select Mikel Leshoure 13 picks later in the same round as a short-yardage running back.
The day before, Detroit took Nick Fairley with the 13th pick overall to likely be their third defensive tackle.
“We’re going to draft the best players we can find,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said. “There will be some opportunities to fill some gaps later on.”
Not in the third round.
The Lions sent Seattle their third- and fourth-round picks and flipped slots in the fifth and seventh rounds to acquire the 57th selection overall and land Leshoure. He accounted for nearly 1,900 yards and scored 20 touchdowns last season for his hometown Fighting Illini.
Detroit drafted the 6-foot, 227-pound Leshoure to compliment 5-10, 199-pound Jahvid Best.
“I watched Best a lot,” Leshoure said. “He’s smaller guy, a lot faster.”
Young, the 44th overall pick, will have a chance to be a secondary option for quarterback Matthew Stafford, whose top two targets are Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson. The 5-foot-11, 174-pound Los Angeles native caught 150 passes for 2,200-plus yards and 19 touchdowns over his final two seasons at Boise State.
“The guy is an explosive playmaker,” Mayhew said. “He’s got speed, great hands.”
On defense, Detroit has added to its strength.
The Lions took Fairley to put him on a line with standout defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams along with defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch.
Fairley was welcomed at team headquarters Friday night by Willie Stone, who has been a Lions season-ticket holder for 61 years.
“I want a Super Bowl championship,” the 87-year-old Stone told Fairley.
That would be a first.
The Lions have one playoff victory since winning the 1957 NFL title, but Young said “the sky is the limit” for the improving team and he’s confident in his ability to help.
“I feel like I can bring that championship vibe from Boise State,” said Young, whose voice cracked with emotion on a conference call in part because Detroit is his mother’s hometown.
Detroit is convinced Fairley pushes them closer toward contending for an NFC North championship against the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, conference runner-up Chicago and Minnesota.
“I think we made their day a little bit worse when we drafted Nick,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said.
Fairley insisted he wasn’t disappointed about going from a potential No. 1 pick overall to No. 13, saying he doesn’t know why it happened.
“No idea,” he said after posing for pictures with his No. 98 jersey. “But I’m glad to be here with the Detroit Lions and I’m ready to get to work.”
A questionable work ethic seemed to be a factor that led to Fairley’s fall in the draft.
“I just use it as motivation when I’m out there on Sundays,” he said.
By this Sunday, Mayhew acknowledged all of the teams voids – particularly at linebacker and cornerback – probably won’t be addressed.
“The draft is not the finish line for us,” Mayhew said.
The Lions are left just a fifth- and seventh-round pick Saturday in the final day of the draft in which they’ve steadfastly stuck to their plan to draft the best player available instead of looking to fill a hole on the roster.
“Let’s worry right now about talent,” Schwartz said.
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