Apr 302011

The first three rounds of the NFL Draft are in the books. How did the Lions do? I have my doubts.

The first round selection of Defensive Tackle Nick Fairley I can easily understand. Certainly the reaction of the entire football world after they made their pick (in short, “whoa the Lions are going to be Homura getting after QB”) made me feel good about the selection. And that’s fine, Lombardi always says what teams need to do is focus on building individual strengths — spend your time maximizing one aspect of your defense and everything will go from there. That is what the Lions did, the defensive line was already the strength of their defense and they made it better. Suh and Fairley are a pair of elite talents, add in the leadership of VandenBosch and Corey Williams/Cliff Avril, plus the rest of the backups, and you have the best four man front in football. Would I have rather they drafted Suh’s old Nebraska running mate Prince Amukamura? Yeah, I do, simply because the whole draft lead up he was billed as a top 10 guy who the stars would have to align just right for the Lions to get. But the damage Fairley will (hopefully) do up front should get me over that disappointment. Plus he gets big points for his sartorial choices

It was the second round selections of WR Titus Young, and RB Mikel Lashoure that really worried me. Again I see the logic behind both picks; the team needs a slot receiver, and a bruiser back to compliment Jahvid Best. The thought of a good slot receiver making the most of open space created by double-teaming Johnson is delicious, or getting more single coverage on Johnson. Likewise having that automatic three yard pound the ball guy will help lessen the load on both Best and Stafford immensely. However, both of those roles are complimentary, and the Lions have holes, enormous ones, at starting positions. I suppose this again fails into the Lombardi Dictum of build your strengths, but it’s tough to accept. I, along with most of the world, feel that Detroit needs to add fresh blood at both the corner and outside linebacker positions, and by selecting Young and Lashoure (and sacrificing their third and fourth round picks to do so) they pretty much ruled out the opportunity to make those upgrades through the draft.

That isn’t to say that this is what the 2011 Lions will at all look like. Thanks to the lockout there is still the matter of free agency to get to, and the Lions will undoubtedly make additions that way too (Nnamdi anyone?). But there’s something about the draft that when your team drafts the guy you know will fill the hole it just feels right. Free agent signings in the NFL just don’t have the same feel to me, probably because of the shelf-life of NFL players any free agent signing is probably a guy already on the downslope of his career. So when your team drafts players that they might need, but doesn’t agree with your vision of the team, it’s very disconcerting. Hopefully these guys will all pan out, and most importantly Stafford will manage to stay upright next season — whenever that might be — but until that time I’ll keep dreaming of shutdown corners and dominating linebackers.

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