Lions

Eric Thomas: Get A Running Back In The Draft

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DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 12: Jahvid Best #44 of the Detroit Lions tries to get around the tackle of Ryan Pickett #79 of the Green Bay Packers on December 12, 2010 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

DETROIT, MI – DECEMBER 12: Jahvid Best #44 of the Detroit Lions tries to get around the tackle of Ryan Pickett #79 of the Green Bay Packers on December 12, 2010 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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It seems that the Gregorian chant that hummed through the season about how the Lions needed to draft on the offensive line has subsided and I applaud this development. I am not a believer in drafting on the O line. Those picks bust just as much as any pick (Robert Gallery), and even when it does work out, the impact on the overall is minimal (Jake Long). Who had more impact, Matt Stafford or Jason Smith or Andre Smith? Every year there is a story about a former 1st round O lineman losing his job to the 6th rounder they picked up last year (Gosder Cherilus, cough).

Now the band has moved on to the defensive backfield, trumpeting the need for help in that category. I am not going to argue the blaring need for help there. The last two games against the league’s best passing attacks were pretty tough to watch. Matt Flynn became the new Steve Young and Drew Brees set the record for yards in the playoffs. Stepping back for a minute though, the Lions secondary was supposed to be bad this year, and only fell apart in the last two games. Chris Houston had a good year, and Eric Wright deserves to be a #3. But I would really prefer to get a CB in free agency. I think that a veteran corner is always preferable over the draft, because they seemingly last forever. Charles Woodson and Champ Bailey are still in the league, and playing at a high level for crying out loud. Apparently Darrell Green and Merton Hanks retired too early. Courtland Finnegan and Marcus Trufant would be a very welcome addition to the Lions next year.

Draft a running back. I understand the Lions would rightly loathe spending high picks on runners 3 years in a row, but Best just doesn’t look durable enough. When they drafted Best, players did not get placed on IR for concussions. They do now, and it’s a reality that Jahvid has to live with, as he was one of the more famous concussion cases in college. Leshoure is an unknown with everyone believing he can thrive coming off an Achilles tear but no one knowing for sure. Kevin Smith has yards of heart but yards of injuries.

A depth chart featuring David Wilson (RB from Virginia Tech) Leshoure and Best helps everyone on the field. Mix in a decent LB in the second round and the Lions have a good looking draft in 2012.

I always like taking a running back in the draft because it does not seem possible to get a good one through free agency. Whenever backs get to your team, they are largely done. Running back is a brutal position, and their bodies are worn down by the time they bounce around for a while. If a team gets a hold of a good back they usually never let them go. The same cannot be said for corners, as there is always about 3 or 4 good ones on the open market.

I understand the football punditry fingering a circle around the suspect secondary, demanding fans eat their peas for a stiffer defense. But in this league an elite quarterback can shred any defense. The league has ameliorated rules to make the passing game shine. The real problem is the Lions couldn’t keep those elite QBs off the field and a great running back can do that.

Or maybe they will draft another defensive lineman. Ugh.

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