By: Eric Thomas
I’m gonna to get screamed at for writing this, but I’ll say it anyway. The Lions need to draft a running back. I understand that he prevailing wisdom in Detroit is that they should go defense with every pick but I would like to register a protest.
The Lions defense needs help but they weren’t nearly as awful as we all remember. Oh sure, they seemed to always give up the big play when it counted and if it came down to defense they were guaranteed to break our hearts. The game against the Colts comes to mind.
The bulk of the ineptitude was on the running game. The Lions couldn’t stay on the field for any extended period. The Lions faced almost exclusively passing packages all year. Teams played far off the line and dared Detroit to run. The 49er game was embarrassing, the Lions couldn’t run the ball against what amounted to a prevent defense. Without a speed back, that won’t change next year.
The Lions needed a running back last offseason, but most fans and apparently the front office was locked in the delusion that the backfield was set. “They just traded up for Jahvid Best!” was said along with other variations. I was told in tones reserved for children that the Lions didn’t need any help at all.
Ryan commented on my blog last year, (which was about the same subject) [http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2012/01/13/eric-thomas-get-a-running-back-in-the-draft/]“Draft a CB or a center/LT first round. We don’t need a running back when our OLINE’s average weight is 300 lbs and cannot create any holes.” Well, they drafted a LT. How did that work out? They even brought him on for help on the run game. The problem is that they don’t have anyone with speed.
Ed Lacy works. He’s young and has ton to learn, but he’s that shifty back the Lions need. He’s elusive, can catch out of the backfield, has the size to pass block and can hit holes with speed. Is he Adrian Peterson? Of course not, but the Lions don’t need a back with the caliber of AD to mount an effective running game. He will be available in late rounds. If Le’veon Bell is available in the second round, GRAB HIM. Both Bell and Lacy look undervalued by scouts right now but I suspect that will change in the coming weeks. They’ve both got size and speed.
Fans will scream that they’ve already selected enough running backs in the draft. Pipe down. Jahvid Best isn’t walking through that door. He was a risk with his health history, and concussions weren’t career enders when he was selected. We need to swallow the mistake and move on. The Lions had selected wide receivers before they selected Calvin. Do you regret taking him?
Fans throw all rationality out the window in the draft. They seem to think that ‘eat your peas’ picks on OL and DL are some form of panacea every year. The Lions need help on defense but they really need a running game. The fact that Calvin Johnson got the single season yardage record and the team only had 4 wins is evidence of just how one dimensional they are.
I think they should take Jarvis Jones with first pick then start thinking about RB. Te‘o tumbled in the national championship game; the Lions have plenty of guys who miss tackles on the team already. Jones fits perfectly. The Lions would have to figure out what to do with Stephen Tulloch if they picked Te’o anyway. Jones slides into the outside perfectly.
Then hold your nose and get a back. Maybe they will listen to me this year.