Don’t be shocked if Lions pick a receiver in first round
The Detroit Lions became the butt of jokes around the NFL when they drafted a receiver in the first round three straight years from 2003-05.
It started with taking Michigan State’s Charles Rogers No. 2 overall in 2003, then Texas’ Roy Williams No. 7 overall in 2004 and finally USC’s Mike Williams No. 10 overall in 2005.
Roy Williams had a good but not great career while Rogers and Mike Williams were total busts.
The Lions finally got it right when they selected Calvin Johnson with the second pick overall in 2007, but they’ve had a hard time living down their reputation for using high draft picks on receivers who didn’t live up to the hype.
It hasn’t helped that recent back-to-back second-round picks, Titus Young and Ryan Broyles, also didn’t pan out. Young is out of the league while Broyles is still trying to prove himself following a series of injures.
To make matters even worse, last year’s first-round pick, Eric Ebron, a tight end with supposedly wide-receiver skills, struggled as a rookie.
Because of this history, there’s always the fear among skeptical Lions fans that their team will do it again and draft another receiver to try to give quarterback Matthew Stafford an extra weapon, even though there appear to be potential glaring needs at defensive tackle, offensive line and cornerback.
Could it actually happen this year?
It shouldn’t, but it’s not out of the question because the Lions, an organization that strongly believes in the "best player available" philosophy, won’t be picking until 23rd overall.
They could decide that a receiver, especially in a draft that appears to be filled with good ones, is a better value than the D-tackles, O-linemen and corners available at that point.
Some of the most talented receiver candidates who could still be on the board include Dorial Green-Beckham, Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong and Ohio State’s Devin Smith.
Green-Beckham, who is 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds, has the size and athleticism to at least trigger some Calvin Johnson-like comparisons, but there are character issues involved that led to him sitting out last season after leaving Missouri.
Here’s another name who can’t be dismissed — Breshad Perriman. Sound familiar? He’s the son of former Lions receiver Brett Perriman.
Central Florida’s Breshad Perriman is 6-2, 212 pounds and has seen his draft stock rising lately after leaving school following his junior year. He had 50 receptions for 1,044 yards and nine touchdowns last season, including a memorable Hail Mary catch for the winning touchdown on the final play to beat East Carolina in the American Athletic Association championship game.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock believes Perriman is "special" and could be emerging as a first-round pick.
The buzz slowed somewhat during the NFL Scouting Combine this past weekend because a hamstring injury kept Perriman from participating. He will have another chance to check off that box, especially with his 40-yard dash time, at UCF’s pro day.
Mayock said Perriman makes acrobatic, contested catches but … he also drops some easy balls at times.
Concentration would seem to be his biggest problem there, but the size, athleticism and Lion blood could make him at least a consideration at No. 23 if Detroit doesn’t find value at some other areas of need.
— Former Michigan defensive end Frank Clark has some lingering off-the-field questions after being charged in a domestic-violence incident, but he performed well enough at the combine that some teams might have to take a more serious look at him.
Clark finished first among defensive linemen in four of the seven drills, including the vertical jump, three-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle.
— Michigan State … Speed U?
Don’t laugh. Big Ten teams haven’t been known for their speed over the years, but the Spartans had not only the fastest cornerback at the combine (Trae Waynes, 4.31 in the 40-yard dash) but also the fastest running back (Jeremy Langford, 4.42).
Waynes made a $100,000 sponsor bonus from Adidas for his performance. He’s considered the top cornerback available.
Langford is ranked as the No. 3 running back by FOX Sports’ Joel Klatt.
— Michigan’s Jake Ryan ran the 40 in 4.65 seconds, the 11th-best among players officially listed as linebackers for the combine.
"I like Jake Ryan," Mayock said. "He fought through that early knee injury at Michigan. He’s played several different positions. Little more athletic than people want to give him credit for.
"He’s a fourth- to fifth-round pick as a linebacker, makes his living on special teams and will compete."
— Western Michigan cornerback Donald Celiscar impressed Mayock with how he played against Michigan State as a junior in 2013.
"He competed," Mayock said.
Celiscar played a lot of man coverage in college, which helps his value, but he really hurt himself at the combine by running the 40 in 4.62 seconds.
— Michigan State’s Kurtis Drummond is no longer ranked among Klatt’s top-five safeties after running a 4.65 40.