On Wednesday, the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine shall begin. This is when the NFL Draft coverage really kicks it up another notch, although it will have to sustain itself even longer this year, as this year the draft doesn't begin until May 8. The Combine will bring the usual stuff. Guys will run and jump and take the Wonderlic and get physicals and jerks will ask awful questions of players that they will not be chastised enough for. With the Combine here, I am beginning to really ponder what I want the Lions to do in the 2014 NFL Draft, particularly in the first round, and right now things don't look too great.
For a little while there, things looked somewhat clear. The Lions had two key needs: Wide receiver and cornerback. Their receiver need was further exacerbated by the release of Nate Burleson. So, with the 10th overall pick, you would think the Lions should go with one of those two things. It just usually is not a great idea, and does not look like it would be a great idea this year.
Unless a wide receiver is elite, taking one with a top 10 pick is not a great idea. Receivers are widely available later in the draft. Tons of them come out every year, and frequently later picks excel, moreso than at other positions. Plus, the Lions already have Calvin Johnson. They don't need a big time receiver. A couple good ones, and cheap ones, will suffice.
If Sammy Watkins is somehow there at the 10th pick, I would be fine with the Lions taking him. However, it is very unlikely Watkins will be there. The other two names bandied about are Mike Evans and Marqise Lee. I like both of those guys as players. If Detroit traded down and got one of them at 16 or so, that'd be fine. If they stay at 10, on the other hand, it would feel like a slight reach, and I'd prefer it if the Lions did not reach.
Cornerback, on the other hand, is a more crucial position. The Lions really need one, and getting one in the top 10, if you think they will be very good, is a nice move. The only issue? Rookie cornerbacks tend to struggle? Do the Lions want to really win this year? Then taking a cornerback would not be the best idea. If they can wait a year, and they may, then that's fine. Regardless, the only cornerback that could be worth taking 10th overall is Justin Gilbert. I don't know if he is a lockdown guy. However, I think he can be quite good. I'd prefer Gilbert to Evans and Lee, but we'd have to settle for the fact he likely won't have a very good rookie year.
Ah, but wait, things have changed. Recently, the Lions cut safety Louis Delmas. Suddenly, a new need emerges. A safety is a crucial part of the secondary, and is more crucial in the current, pass happy, NFL. Plus, safeties tend to make a quicker impact. Just look at how guys like Eric Reid, Tyrann Mathieu, and Kenny Vaccaro performed as rookies. A safety could let the Lions have their cake and eat it too.
The only question is whether or not there is a safety worth taking with the 10th pick? I think there might be in Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Not only would they get a player who goes by "Ha Ha," which is a rare treat, he is quite a good safety. He can be as good as Delmas, perhaps better, and likely healthier.
So, at the moment, for right now I am thinking about a safety, namely Clinton-Dix, with Detroit's first round pick. Let them worry about wide receiver later. Let them get a veteran cornerback. This looks like the best way for the Lions to construct their lineup this offseason.