By: Eric Thomas
The internet is thick with NFL Mock Drafts at the moment, and anyone with a passing interest might notice that 2013 is weak sauce. Top five is a game of pickup sticks; there isn’t an unquestioned number one. One has Luke Joeckel, one has Eric Fisher, you half expect every team to show up with a “We want Clowney!” shirt when the Draft finally drops on April 25th.
The Lions sit at number five. If you’re shaky about the Lion’s draft history, you’ve been paying attention. Millen aside, the last time the Lions picked fifth overall, they took Bryant Westbrook, the corner from UT Austin. He had a par rookie season when his holdout ended and he was named to the 1997 USA Today All Rookie Team, the equivalent of a “no cavities” award if there ever was one in the NFL. He ruptured his Achilles Tendon in 2000 after finally showing progress. His retirement required no press conference.
Lion’s fans hang on to draft picks like they are precious. It’s hard to figure out why. Unless the Lions are picking first or second, the results are lousy. In drafts like this one, where you have “take or leave” talent glutting the top of the order, it’s hard to come out with a winner.
So why not trade it? First round draft picks are coveted in the NFL by every team, but a conversation with any fan becomes about the one that got away. Everyone thinks their team stinks at the draft, which makes sense because it’s a game of chance. There’s very little difference between a draft board and a Mega Millions slip.
Brady’s name gets brought up a lot, picked as a compensatory at 199 in the sixth round. The Patriots get all the credit for this, like psychics who nabbed him away when every other team had a chance at the future Hall of Famer / Giselle conqueror. If the Pats knew so much, why did they leave him available when they picked Dave Stachelski and Jeff Marriott in the fifth round?
There’s always the chance you could pick the next Tom Brady, but the chances are so slim. Lions fans tend to believe in magic in the off-season, as if the beer commercial where a person can snap their fingers and be surrounded by supermodels was based in reality. You can’t see the future.
In baseball, these decisions are no brainers. You always trade away the prospects for the proven stars. Shut up about Smoltz, the exception does not make the rule and no one questioned that trade when it went down. Why can’t the same apply for the Lions?
The Lions have talented young players. Any team would love to have Stafford, CJ and Suh. Their time together is short; that window is closing. When the Lions draft at five they have to wait for that rookie to grow and the Lions have young talent now. If you trade that number five pick away for a veteran, especially a veteran corner, you get better now rather than waiting a few years.
Getting better with free agents and trades is tough too, ask Daniel Snyder, but it works for the Lions roster as it stands. Making small deposits for a future that may never come has never worked before. The Lions never took a “win now” posture before but they should now.
So why wouldn’t you just trade away that number five pick. If even the Mock Drafts shrug their shoulders at five, why not trade it for a veteran with NFL tape? Ask yourself Lions fans: Are you really sure you’d miss it?