Lions notes: Flipping draft picks and Combine

Between this weekend’s Scouting Combine and the NFL Draft in late April, there is inevitably going to be suggestions that the Detroit Lions should trade down with their fifth pick overall.

The theory is that the Lions, who have so many holes to fill on defense, could sorely use that extra draft pick — perhaps a second-, third- or fourth-rounder — that they would likely receive under such a scenario.

There’s a bit of a problem, however, with this strategy. It’s going to be easier said than done, especially this year.

Finding a team that will give up that extra pick to flip-flop first-round spots won’t be easy, according to draft analysts.

“There’s a lot of teams looking to go in reverse,” said the NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout for the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles. “I’m not seeing many teams looking to go up.”

The reason teams are more likely to try to trade down, rather than up, is that this year’s draft is considered stocked with very-good players but not elite level.

At least that’s the perception entering the Combine.

“I think we probably have better depth than we’ve had in the last 10 years,” said Mike Mayock, a NFL Network analyst who spent two seasons as a defensive back with the New York Giants. “I wouldn’t want a top-10 pick this year. I think the fifth pick and the 25th pick in this draft are very similar.”

Not exactly what Lions’ fans wanted to hear after going through a 4-12 season to get that No. 5 pick.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew met with reporters who cover the team Friday morning over breakfast in Indianapolis. Among the things he told them:

* The club has identified “about nine” of its 23 unrestricted free agents as the top priority to try to re-sign. Mayhew wouldn’t identify the nine.

* A Thursday meeting with Matthew Stafford’s agent, Tom Condon, was considered a “productive” initial step toward trying to reach a contract extension with the franchise quarterback.

* The Lions plan to restructure some other contracts, too, to create additional room under the salary cap. They’ve already done that with center Dominic Raiola and receiver Nate Burleson. Mayhew didn’t say who else he will approach, but defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh certainly should be one of them. Suh’s cap hit for next season is currently more than $18 million.

* Mayhew was scheduled to meet Friday with the agent of defensive end Cliff Avril, one of the Lions’ free agents.

*Mayhew told the beat writers it was his idea to hire former Denver Broncos GM Brian Xanders as the Lions’ new senior personnel executive. Mayhew said he is good friends with Xanders.

The on-field workouts begin Saturday inside Lucas Oil Stadium. Here’s the schedule:

Saturday: Offensive linemen, tight ends and kickers/punters.

Sunday: Quarterbacks, running backs and receivers.

Monday: Defensive linemen and linebackers.

Tuesday: Defensive backs.

The workouts will be televised live each day beginning at 9 a.m. on the NFL Network.
The Lions’ areas of need include running back, punter and anyone who plays defense.