Dan Miller's NFL draft preview: Lions have options - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Dan Miller's NFL draft preview: Lions have options

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SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -- Let’s start with this: you should be very glad I’m not the Lions' general manager.  My draft board changes more often than Taylor Swift changes boyfriends.  Much like her though, when I fall, I fall hard.  And, no, I don’t really have a draft board.

I can make a case for the Lions drafting a corner, a safety, a linebacker, a defensive lineman, an offensive lineman, a receiver and a tight end.

The nice thing is I don’t think they are desperate for any particular position.  With a little work in the offseason, they have signed a veteran safety, a couple veteran corners, brought back their tight end and of course brought in a much needed number two receiver.

Now, that’s not to say they can’t improve.  They can and they should.  So let’s run down the possibilities.

Cornerback
With Dennard, Fuller, Roby and Gilbert sitting there at 10, the Lions could conceivably fill a potential major hole.  The ongoing injury problem with Chris Houston has to be a concern.  Here’s the key.  What do they think of their young players?  Slay? Bentley? Green? Greenwood?  The answer to those questions will say a lot about choosing one of these guys.  My concern?  First round corners scare me.  See Dee Milliner.     

Defensive line/linebacker
I will group these together.  There are two players that I think fit into this category.  Aaron Donald and Anthony Barr.  Love Donald.  Saw him play a number of times.  Positives are he gives you some insurance with the defensive tackle position being up in the air right now as Suh tries to get a new deal and Fairley tries to prove he deserves one.  He could also allow you to move Suh outside or he could even go outside in some formations.  He fits into a nice rotation.  I don’t see many negatives.  As for Barr, he’s that hybrid LB/rush guy this team needs as they are a bit thin at both spots.  My concern, why are so many people saying he’s such a bust risk?  He looks great on highlight tapes but I’ve heard him questioned more than most guys associated with the 10th pick.   This is where Martin Mayhew and his guys have to earn their money. (I’m going to say that a lot)  Like him?  He fits what they need?  Have questions?  Move on.

Safety
Ha Ha Clinton Dix is the guy most associated with the Lions and where they are picking.  I’m not totally uncomfortable with where the team is right now at this position.  Glover Quin is solid at free safety and I get the sense that James Ihedigbo will be more in the box and he’s coming off a season in which he racked up more than 100 tackles.  He’s played for Teryl Austin and clearly that relationship was part of what brought him here.  Don Carey played well at the end of last year and is the back-up at both spots.  Don’t see a huge need but if you think Clinton-Dix is special and a game changer, then there’s no problem going that way.  This team needs more guys that change games and you can certainly do that from the safety position.  Is he that guy?

WR/TE
Again, I will group two positions together.  Watkins would require a trade up and it certainly appears that Evans would as well.  Leave them alone for now.  That leaves the suddenly hot Odell Beckham and Eric Ebron.  I think either guy would provide the Lions with a third threat in the receiving group.  Couple things here… First I hear people say the Lions don’t need a tight end.  They’d be missing the point.  Ebron isn’t and shouldn’t be regarded as a traditional tight end.  Draft him and he becomes your third receiver.  Further, forget the term “third receiver” because it leads you to believe that he is a luxury or adding on to a stacked position.  He’s not.  He’s a nightmare in the slot (or even outside) and remember where Joe Lombardi is coming from and how he utilized his “tight end” in New Orleans.  Ebron may not be Jimmy Graham but he’s potentially a very special player who takes a need for another playmaker in the passing game off the board.  Further, remember this.  For all the talk about the Lions drafting receivers over the years, they are very thin at that position.  Calvin is all world.  But for much of the past few seasons he is all that Matthew Stafford has had. Nate Burleson was hurt, Ryan Broyles was hurt and Titus Young had his issues.  What was left?  Calvin and a bunch of guys that were out of work at one point and probably should be no better than a 4th guy on the depth chart.  For a team trying to make a living passing the ball they didn’t have many quality options for their quarterback.  Tate is an outstanding fit but I firmly believe the Lions need to add another threat at WR or TE before the season.  Does it come from the 10th pick?  Unlike some, I wouldn’t be against it if you feel that player is the best on the board.  The potential impact on the offense is very, very significant.

Offensive Line
The starters are set for this year but in time they could be looking for depth, a center and possibly a guard although Rob Sims has plenty of good football left.  LaAdrian Waddle is unproven at RT but the early impressions have been very good.  This isn’t a sexy way to go but there is some value here depending on how the board falls.

Again, you can make a case for this team going in many different directions at 10.  There is going to be an impact player there for the Lions if they choose correctly.  Find the best one.  Find the one that will make plays and change games for the next several years.

Remember this too, people go nuts if they hear somebody suggest a player or a position they don’t like with that first round pick.  The draft doesn’t end after the first round.   They can address needs in round two, three, four and so on.

I like Ebron.  A lot.  I’ve leaned towards him being my guy.  I think he adds much needed dimension to the teams offense.  I know many people disagree.  His play and the teams ability to draft quality defensive players behind him would ultimately decide whether or not it’s the right way to go.

Safest pick?  For me it’s Donald.  Think he’s a monster who will play for 10-12 years and be very impactful.  

Best case scenario?  One of those DB’s comes in as a game changer.  They need that.  As previously stated I’m scared of corners.  Would love to see Dennard or Gilbert or Fuller or Roby come in here and lock down one side of the field for years to come.  Big question is, can they? That’s where Mayhew and his guys will make their money, is being right in their evaluation of these players.

It’s fascinating.  It’s why the NFL Draft has us buzzing all year.  I’m excited about what this team can add.  If the Lions can duplicate the success they had in last year's draft, this will be a very good weekend for all of us.

Now let’s go already. 
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