By Dan Leach/Follow Dan on Twitter @dtmleach
As the NFL draft is finally just hours away — an unofficial sports holiday — the Lions find themselves with a tremendous amount of options in the first round.
It is no secret that the Lions need help in the secondary, have to find a LB who can be impactful, and in what many feel is possibly the deepest WR draft ever, have to find an impact wideout. Here are my top three options for what I feel the Lions should do with their first round draft pick. Let the scenarios — and fun — commence!
3. TRADE DOWN FOR MORE PICKS: If option No. 1 doesn’t transpire (see below), the Lions find themselves in a very high position of value. The No. 10 pick isn’t a top-5 pick, but many teams would love to move up to 10 if they’re concerned they won’t be able to get who they want later in the round. This could give the Lions a later first rounder. That pick could be used on a WR like USC’s Marquise Lee or a OLB beast in UCLA’s Anthony Barr. They would also likely get a second rounder or a third and a fourth which, going by last year’s draft, can be very valuable for the Lions.
2. DRAFT OKLAHOMA STATE CB JUSTIN GILBERT: Darqueze Denard might be the most NFL ready for the NFL, but Justin Gilbert simply has the biggest upside — by a ton. He has phenomenal coverage skills, is an excellent kick returner, and has speed that is NFL caliber on day one and then some. If the Lions stay at No. 10, they have to go defense. Gilbert gives them a player at the position they need most to improve upon from last season. He’s a ball hawk, an excellent tackler, and always seems to know where the ball and his man is. That’s an issue Lions corners have had for the most part for decades.
Just simply watch this guy’s jets as well as his coverage instincts:
1. TRADE UP TO NO. 5 OR NO. 6 AND DRAFT SAMMY WATKINS WR CLEMSON (GAMECHANGER): I know many reading this will say, “Nooooooooooooooooooo!!” The Lions need more picks — not less — and yes, I know there is tremendous depth at WR in this draft. Maybe more so than ever before. The bottom line is Watkins is THAT good, and unless Detroit traded up to the top two (a scenario that is extremely unlikely), they could get this done at No. 5 or No. 6 without having to mortgage the future. There is even an outside chance they wouldn’t have to swap their first rounder if Atlanta or Oakland wanted multiple mid-to-late round picks. They both need to fill a lot of holes and could be desperate to move depending on who goes in the top four.
No offense to Martin Mayhew, but around this time of year, a GM’s job is basically to lie through his teeth. So, his comments on not trading Ndamukong Suh mean absolutely nothing — and there are murmurs that the Raiders are interested. That would just solidify the value of trading up and not having to give up your first rounder.
As much I still feel Suh has a tremendous upside and is one of the best D-Lineman in football, there is no denying he has become a distraction. If he truly doesn’t want to be here long-term, what do you lose by trading him?
A WR core of Watkins, Megatron and Tate to go along with Fauria and Pettigrew would be one of the best and most balanced in football, even with Watkins being a rookie. The learning curve for a wideout is probably the lowest of any position besides a kicker or punter coming out of college to the NFL.
The kid simply has speed that kills, phenomenal hands and a true sense of what it takes to make a big play in the toughest of conditions. He is a little undersized at 6-feet-1, but has that ever stopped Steve Smith (5-9), Percy Harvin (5-10) or Santana Moss (5-10)? Watkins might have more natural ability then all of them.
Many will say DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE! There is no denying that defense wins championships and it has been an Achilles heel for the Lions for years. The Lions still have a ton of picks — especially in the fourth round — and they will be able to get quality talent in the third or fourth round this year. Based on the Detroit’s needs at S, LB and CB, those positions the Lions are targeting this year would have been drafted two rounds higher in other years.
The team is in one of its best positions talent-wise to contend in many people’s lifetimes. If the team doesn’t give up too much to make the move up for Watkins (which is the only scenario I would approve of), then his value and clear-cut talent, athleticism and instant impact are too much to pass up on.
Coffee Talk amongst yourselves. What we do know for sure is Lions fans won’t have to wait much longer to find out whose name will be called or won’t in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft — in what has been the longest run-up to a draft in history.