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Dealing With A Draft Lacking Elite Defensive Backs

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By Chris Morgan

Barring a home upset against the Atlanta Falcons or the Chicago Bears, two likely playoff teams, the Detroit Lions are going to go 4-12. Obviously, there will be a lot of hand wringing about such a disappointing season and calls for changes that need to be made. Granted, the biggest changes the Lions need for 2013 are “be healthier” and “be luckier,” but the roster will still need some upgrades. If there is one area the Lions could use the most help in, it is probably the secondary. Last year, they waited until round three before taking Bill Bentley. It is quite possible Detroit will have a top five pick, and they will certainly be selecting in the top 10 in the 2013 NFL Draft. That would give them an excellent chance to grab an elite defensive back. The one issue? There probably won’t be one available.

Of course, there is a long time between now and the Draft in April. We don’t even know every underclassman who is going to declare. There is still the combine and pro days and all that good stuff. However, let us assume for now that if somebody is considered to be a first round pick they will declare, and let us use the general consensus of the moment in terms of evaluating these prospects. Generally speaking, there is only one cornerback considered likely and worthy of going in the first half of the first round, and that’s Alabama’s Dee Milliner.

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - SEPTEMBER 15: Dee Milliner #28 of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs the ball against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Crimson Tide defeated the Razorbacks 52-0. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

(Credit, Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Milliner is a good prospect from a program with a great pedigree, but he’s not considered a top of the line prospect. He’s not Patrick Peterson or even Morris Claiborne. Could the Lions reasonably take him if they were drafting, say, 10th? Sure, but if they are in the top five or six, it would be a bit of a reach. Reaching for need, even at an important position like cornerback, isn’t a great idea. There’s no safety worth taking in the top 10, either. Unless the Lions trade down, they probably will have to wait until the second round to address the secondary.

However, all hope is not lost. You know what position is loaded with upper tier talent? Defensive end. Also defensive tackle, but that position is well-covered by the Lions. Cliff Avril was franchised, and wants a big deal. Kyle Vanden Bosch is in the twilight of his career. Even if the Lions re-sign Avril, they could use a defensive end, and they could choose to let Avril go, save money, and spend it on the secondary. Maybe taking a defensive end is the best idea for Detroit in the first round.

There are guys like Damontre Moore, Barkevious Mingo, and Bjoern Warner they could definitely take. Dion Jordan may rise as a prospect. Detroit could consider taking Jarvis Jones and making him a defensive end, even if he profiles better as a 3-4 outside linebacker. The Detroit Lions are going to get an early pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. While they could really use a cornerback, it would be wiser for them to take a defensive end and address that elsewhere. With a couple good picks, and some better luck this could be a playoff team as soon as next season.

For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Lions news, see CBS Sports Detroit.

Chris has been a diehard Detroit Lions fan through the good (Barry Sanders) and the bad (Matt Millen) and that love has led him to take jobs writing about sports, including as a fantasy sports “expert.” His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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