Step #5 of a six-step plan to make the Detroit Lions a perennial playoff contender is to draft defense first and offensive line personnel.
How sound is this strategy? Let's review the offensive and defensive lines for the two Super Bowl teams and see how many of the starters were drafted by the San Francisco 49ers or the Baltimore Ravens.
San Francisco - Left tackle Joe Staley, left guard Mike Iupati, right guard Alex Boone and right tackle Anthony Davis were drafted by the 49ers. Center Jonathan Goodwin was drafted by the Jets, played for the Jets and the Saints, and joined the 49ers in 2011.
Baltimore - Left guard Kelechi Osemele, right guard Marshal Yando and right tackle Michael Oher were drafted by the Ravens. Left tackle Bryant McKinnie and center Matt Birk were drafted by and played for the Minnesota Vikings before joining the Ravens in 2011 (McKinnie) and 2009 (Birk).
Both teams play a 3-4 defense.
Baltimore - Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, nose tackle Terrence Cody and defensive end Pernell McPhee were drafted by the Ravens.
San Francisco - Left defensive tackle Ray McDonald and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga were drafted by the 49ers. Right defensive tackle Justin Smith was drafted and initially played for the Cincinnati Bengals before joining the 49ers in 2008.
Twelve of the 16 starters were drafted by their respective teams. They have various years of service in the NFL, which indicates these players have "staying" power.
Lions Should Use 49ers and Ravens as the Model
As stated in the Step #4 article, the Lions should select defensive end Bjoern Werner of Florida State with the No. 5 pick in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft. A survey of 10 different mock draft web sites reveals that Werner is listed as the Lions' pick on five sites with Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner listed on three and defensive end Damontre Moore listed on two.
Werner is the biggest of the defensive end prospects at 6'4" and 255 pounds. He has great pass rush and run defense skills. Of his 42 tackes in 2012, 18 were for losses. He had 13 sacks. Werner also forced and recovered one fumble.
If the Lions select Werner with their first pick, then they should go after defensive help at linebacker or in the secondary with their second round pick. The best candidates are Oregon State cornerback Jordan Poyer or Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown.
Poyer may be gone by the No. 35 pick. He had a strong senior year that included seven interceptions, 50 tackles and two sacks. Brown had 100 tackles during the 2012 season and 101 in 2011. It is the kind of tackling consistency the Lions need at linebacker..
How do you feel about having Rambo play for Detroit in 2013? Bacarri Rambo of Georgia is a free safety who may be available in the third round and could replace the talented, but frequently injured, Louis Delmas. Delmas is a free agent and may prove to be too costly to re-sign to a Lions contract.
The other possibilities for the third round are outside linebacker Khaseem Greene of Rutgers or cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson of Connecticut. The selection of either player would address areas of defensive weakness.
The Lions currently don't have a fourth round pick, but it may be time to strengthen their offensive line and prepare for the departure of Dominic Raiola after the 2013 season. Dettroit's fifth round pick could be used to select Notre Dame center Braxston Cave. Cave is a big 6'3", 303-pound lineman.
Defensive end Spencer Nealy of Texas A&M is an intriguing possibility with the Lions' sixth round pick. Though if Detroit is really looking for a young tight end, they might consider Christopher Gragg of Arkansas.
How about a hard-hitting safety from Michigan as Detroit's seventh round pick? Many mock draft forecasters believe Jordan Kovacs should be around when the Lions make the 195th pick of the 2013 draft.
Bonus Picks if Suh Gets Traded
A related article to this series proposed the Lions trade defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to New Orleans for the Saints No. 15 pick and presumably a third round pick. If this trade actually materialized, Detroit should do the following;
- Select center/guard/tackle Barrett Jones of Alabama with the No. 15 pick and possibly replace offensive guard Stephen Peterman with Jones.
- Select running back Stepfan Taylor of Stanford or Alabama running back Eddie Lacy as a potential replacement for Jahvid Best with the extra third round pick.
January's Detroit Lions 2013 NFL Mock Draft
So here are the highly speculative 2013 NFL mock draft results for the Detroit Lions:
- Round 1 (No. 5) - Defensive end Bjoern Werner of Florida State
- Round 1 (No. 15) - Offensive center/guard/tackle Barrett Jones of Alabama (per Suh trade)
- Round 2 (No. 36) - Cornerback Jordan Poyer of Oregon State or outside linebacker Arthur Brown of Kansas State
- Round 3 (No. 65) - Free safety Bacarri Rambo of Georiga
- Round 3 (No. 75) - Running backs Stepfan Taylor of Stanford or Eddie Lacy of Alabama (per Suh trade)
- Round 5 (No. 130) - Center Braxston Cave of Notre Dame
- Round 6 (No. 161) - Defensive end Spencer Nealy of Texas A&M
- Round 7 (No. 195) - Safety Jordan Kovacs of Michigan
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Next Article - Step #6: Fill roster spots with medium and low-cost free agents