Lions won’t rule out much with 13th pick overall
The Detroit Lions won’t take a quarterback with the 13th pick
overall in the NFL draft.
Other than that, not even the Lions’ brain trust is certain what
the team will do next week.
”It’s always interesting to me and funny when I read that
somebody said that we’re not going to take an offensive player or
we’re not going to take a certain player,” general manager Martin
Mayhew said Thursday. ”I don’t even know who we’re going to take
right now. I’m not sure how somebody else could know.”
Detroit’s biggest voids seem to be at cornerback, linebacker and
offensive tackle after closing last season with four wins and a
6-10 record two years after becoming the first NFL team to go
”We have a lot more needs than people realize,” Mayhew said,
entering his third draft in charge of football operations after
assisting fired GM Matt Millen. ”There are a lot of places we can
get better and there are a lot of good players in this draft.
”Our philosophy has been to take the best player. I don’t think
that’s going to change.”
Mayhew, though, acknowledged common sense will prevail if the
best player on the Lions’ draft board is a QB when it is their turn
to pick in the first round.
”In the first round, we’re not taking a quarterback,” he said.
”You can put that on the record.”
Detroit is very comfortable with its trio of quarterbacks:
Matthew Stafford, Shaun Hill and Drew Stanton.
After they’ve made the 13th selection Thursday night, the Lions
will have one pick each in the second and third rounds Friday night
and slots in fourth, fifth and seventh rounds Saturday.
Detroit got its seventh-round pick back from the league after
appealing a ruling that the franchise had to give up that selection
and switch fifth-round slots with the Kansas City Chiefs for
violating the league’s tampering policy.
”That’s very important,” Mayhew said. ”That’s why we
aggressively went after that pick.”
If the Lions make the playoffs next season, they will give
Kansas City their sixth-round pick. If not, the Chiefs will get
Detroit’s seventh-round slot in the 2012 draft.
Detroit’s chances of having success next season, assuming the
NFL lockout ends and there is a season, may hinge on Stafford’s
ability to play an entire year for the first time as a pro. That
could lead Detroit to draft at least one offensive lineman.
Stafford was healthy enough to play just three games last year
and 10 games after being the No. 1 pick in 2009 because of shoulder
and knee injuries.
”We need to keep him on the field,” coach Jim Schwartz said
last month in New Orleans at the owners meetings.
If the Lions can help Stafford enough to at least approach 16
starts, they might have a shot at completing their quest to finish
ahead of the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, conference
runner-up Chicago and Minnesota in the NFC North. Detroit was the
last team to beat Green Bay last season, closed the regular season
with a win over Minnesota and lost two tight games to Chicago.
”The goal for this team is to win our division and we showed
last year we can match up with the teams in our division,” Mayhew
The Lions might want to move toward that next step with a
If Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara is not available, they may take a
chance on Colorado’s Jimmy Smith. He failed at least one drug test
and faced two minor-in-possession of alcohol charges in college.
Mayhew said the Lions extensively investigate the character of
prospects, including Smith.
”We’ve done a lot of work on Jimmy,” he said. ”I feel better
about him than I did before I met him.”
Of course, Mayhew might be publicly praising Smith as a person
in the hopes that another team picks him to make an offensive
tackle such as USC’s Tyron Smith or Boston College’s Anthony
Castonzo or another targeted player available in the first
”There are probably a little bit more than a handful of players
who were talking about,” Mayhew said. ”We’ll continue to talk
about those players until we make a final decision.”
Mayhew acknowledged the team’s first pick may not start right
away. That probably would be the case with Smith or Castonzo
because either would likely back up Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus
as a rookie.
”We’re not drafting to get ready for the first game of the
season,” Mayhew said. ”We’re drafting for the future of the