Matt will be reviewing each team's pre-draft analysis by talking about the draft range of targeted players.
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Detroit Lions (Last Year: 7-9)
Trading Shaun Rogers to the Browns was the high point of the Lions' offseason thus far, as they received a third-round pick and Leigh Bodden. I have a hard time projecting how good this team is. I think there are more questions than answers here, especially on defense. This draft is huge for the Lions if they ever want to get in the playoffs. It's a miracle Matt Millen is still here, but that doesn't matter on Draft Day. Let's get to their range with the 15th overall selection:
Rashard Mendenhall/Jonathan Stewart:
It all comes down to whom this team values more. Both are very solid prospects, but after watching Stewart's game against South Florida compared to Mendenhall against USC, Stewart's cutting ability, in my opinion, is a little sluggish. I just watched this a few days ago, and I will have Stewart going as the third running back in all of my upcoming mock drafts.
I'm sold that Mendenhall will be the second running back off the board, and the Lions will seriously consider him.
Phillip Merling/Derrick Harvey:
In my opinion, if you invest a second-round draft pick into a player, you do not give up on him the following season if there isn't an attitude/character issue. Rod Marinelli loved Ikaika Alama-Francis, and since this is an extremely hard position to learn how to play and it takes a while to be developed here, I don't think Marinelli would invest a draft pick in the first three rounds on a defensive end.
There really is nothing at guard on this team. They drafted Manuel Ramirez from Texas Tech last year in the fourth round, but they still need another one. Albert is the best guard prospect since Steve Hutchinson; I think they would strongly consider Albert here to greatly improve their blocking up front.
Why I don't think the Lions will address offensive tackle in the first two rounds:
Mike Martz's offense made the line look worse than it actually was. So did the anemic running back corps. I think Martz's deep quarterback drops and long routes are very impractical and he needs Orlando Pace to make it successful.
First round summay:
I really see the Lions going with Mendenhall or Albert, but one popular pick right now (Kiper and Mayock's) is Jerod Mayo, who seems to have some hype going. He fills a need and is a great fit for the Tampa-2, but we will see what happens on Draft Day.
Now on to the mid rounds, and I'd just like to say this: Just because you are desperate at running back doesn't mean you have to go there in Round 1. Ray Rice and Felix Jones both could be there for the second round. Jamaal Charles and Tashard Choice would be solid additions in the third. This is the deepest running back class in the history of the draft. Mendenhall would be a great pick in Round 1, but you get extremely good value after the first round in this class.
Middle linebacker is an area of huge concern. The Lions might consider Mayo in Round 1, but he could potentially fall to the top of round 2 where they could trade up a bit to get their guy (worked out for the Bills last year with Paul Posluszny). Lions fans should be ecstatic if a Curtis Lofton or Dan Connor is taken by Detroit in the second round. Phillip Wheeler and Jonathan Goff are in their third-round draft range as well.
The cupboard is absolutely bare at tight end. Sean McHugh and Michael Gaines? The second-round range for tight ends includes Fred Davis, Dustin Keller and Martellus Bennett. Bennett could also be there in the third along with Jermichael Finley and Brad Cottam. Mid-round prospects such as Jacob Tamme (best hands in the draft in my opinion for all receivers and tight ends), John Carlson and Gary Barnridge in the fourth-sixth round all make sense
Detroit Lions 2008 Offseason Needs
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