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It was just that kind of year for the Detroit Lions. If you previously were living under a rock or in Ethiopia, I would like to inform you
Detroit became the first ever 0-16 team in NFL history. Congratulations to all Lions fans! General Manager Matt Millen was fired, then hired by NBC and
is now one of my most favorite football analysts. I just do not get how someone like him could go from terrible GM to awesomeness analyst. The Lions
traded away Roy Williams to Jerry Jones and now have two picks in the first 20, including No. 1 overall. What will this team do in the 2009 NFL Draft? Let's
explore Detroit's draft range with the No. 1 overall selection:
Matthew Stafford: The only reason you do not want Matt Stafford is if you are scared of him busting. For more on that, check out my article on the
NFL Quarterback Busts. The Lions will most likely take Stafford here, and this is why: He plays the most important position in the game. Not only this, but
he was born with a rocket launcher for a right arm and great intangibles.
I can't think of a logical reason to not take him. Now, Detroit might end up selecting
Jason Smith or Aaron Curry based on them being scared to negotiate with Stafford's agent, but the bottom line is if this is a football move, Stafford will be the pick.
If you are a Lions fan, go ahead and pre-order your No. 7 jerseys.
Michael Oher/William Beatty: After Stafford is taken No. 1 overall, he MUST be protected. You are investing an extremely valuable No. 1 pick and $35-40 million guaranteed
dollars into him. He must have an offensive line that can protect him or he could be the next Tim Couch or Joey Harrington. The Lions will explore their offensive
tackle options at No. 20. Either Michael Oher of Ole Miss or William Beatty of Connecticut should be on the board at this pick. I do not think the Lions
will take a chance on Andre Smith's serious character concerns. He took money and gifts from an agent, throwing his Alabama teammates under the bus before the Sugar Bowl.
Also, he then showed up to the Combine and declared he had not been training. Oher or Beatty should be the pick at 20 to protect the investment in Stafford.
After the Lions address two of the three most important positions in the game, they will most likely target a cornerback at No. 33 overall. Alphonso Smith,
Coye Francies and D.J. Moore are the most likely candidates here to play in Gunther Cunningham's defense. If they do not opt for a corner at 33, they could
be taking looks at Kevin Barnes, Macho Harris, Keenan Lewis and Asher Allen in the mid to late rounds.
Also to be considered at 33 are nose tackle Ron Brace of Boston College and inside linebacker James Laurinaitis of Ohio State. They both fill needs for Detroit
and emphasize value at the top of the second round.
The Lions could really use an impact tight end on their roster. In the mid rounds, they might target Shawn Nelson, James Casey, Travis Beckum and Cornelius
Ingram in Rounds 2 to 4.
In terms of a nose tackle other than Brace at 33, they might take a look at Sen'Derrick Marks, Vance Walker, Terrence Taylor, Corvey Irvin, and Myron
Pryor in the third-to-fifth round draft range. This should do an adequate job of stopping the run if the Lions can luck out in getting a steal later on.
Linebacker is also a need for Detroit, but unfortunately they need both strongside (SAM) and middle (MIKE) linebackers. I really do not see them going
SAM in the first two rounds. This means they will be targeting Marcus Freeman, Tyrone McKenzie, Moise Fokou, and Anthony Heygood in Rounds
3 to 6. In terms of a MIKE linebacker, I like Jason Phillips, Darry Beckwith, Frantz Joseph and Dave Philistin in the same span.
This is an extremely important draft for obvious reasons. The ship will either get on the right track now or never. You address Stafford and left tackle early
on because of the positional demand and impact (which results in overall positional value) those positions bring to the table. Then you can build your defense
later on. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day. This will likely take one or two seasons for the Lions to be competitive again. There is nothing
wrong with letting Stafford sit for a season before bringing him in to lead the franchise. In the meantime, use the 2010 free agency and 2010 NFL Draft to continue to build the defense
and polish the offense. If Detroit drafts well, the Lions could be serious NFC North contenders in 2010.