By: Eric Thomas
Part of being a Lions fan is looking forward to the NFL Draft in week two of the regular season. April’s optimism is far preferable to September’s depressing results. Lions fans know their way around mock drafts better than we’ve ever understood post season projections and magic numbers. What does “clinch” mean?
The Browns and Colts announced a trade that sounded like heresy to most Lions fans: The Browns sent Trent Richardson to the Colts in exchange for next year’s first round pick. While most of the football world guffawed at the Browns’ decision to trade Richardson, (many national pundits called it “Millen-esque”)* many Lions fans thought that the Colts gave up too much.
The Lions organization could learn a lot from the Colts—that trade was epic. There aren’t many organizations dopey enough to dump their best player for a single first round draft pick, but it’s still an idea that the Lions would be good to consider. If nothing else it’s a chance for the team to play to their strengths and accept their weaknesses. Is Richardson in the same class as Adrian Peterson? No, but he can make a middling team a whole lot better.
Since the draft became live prime time TV, fans in every market clutch their first round picks like Golem guarding the One Ring. This focus on the glitz, glamour and prime time TV hides the emerging truth: The first round of the NFL draft is a sucker’s bet. If eight out of the thirty-two teams pick Pro Bowler caliber talent, it’s a great year. You’re more likely to bust than pick the guy you build the team around. Great teams get starters in the third round of the draft and on.
It’s amazing that Lions fans love the draft as much as they do. Outside of when the Lions pick in the top two, the draft has been awful. It’s pointless to mention them here—there’s been a lot. Do we just prefer long-term disappointment to short-term?
The organization has proven incapable of improving through the draft for decades, regardless of who sits in the front office. Mayhew has, conversely, proven himself adept at improving through free agency. Glover Quinn looks like a good addition, Reggie Bush is a huge factor when he’s healthy, KVB, Jason Jones, Chris Houston…see a pattern forming here?!? Why can’t we just embrace that?
The Lions have a quarterback. That’s all you really need in this man’s NFL. They have some solid young pieces on defense. More rookies aren’t going to be necessary. The organization and fans need to abandon the next year strategy, regardless of how familiar it feels. They need help in the defensive secondary and they’re going to need more help in the backfield because Reggie Bush can’t carry the load. If the rest of the NFL so covets first round picks, why not trade them for proven players?!
Why can’t the Lions FOR ONCE learn from their own awful past? Why can’t they take a pocket full of draft picks, accept they are terrible at the draft, and trade them for proven players on other rosters? Why not let other franchises play the draft game that the Lions have played in the past two decades?! Accept your weaknesses and move on from this terrible draft addiction that has plagued this franchise for too long.
* I get a small amount of pleasure from the fact that Walrus-stache spent so many years convinced he was the smartest guy in the room, and now his name is the platinum standard for über-stupid front office moves. Small pleasure.