The Lions should land a good player tonight, and if they're lucky, it'll be one of the top offensive tackles. If they're shrewd, they'll trade down for more picks. If they gamble, they might get a raw pass-rusher named Ziggy. Whatever it is, it won't be enough. One good player won't turn this franchise around, so if anyone's looking for a quick fix, look away. The Lions have to get this entire NFL draft right, all three days of it, from the fifth pick of the first round to the bottom of the seventh round. GM Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz have been together four seasons and posted a 22-43 record, so I'd say this is a whole new level of crucial, perhaps the most important event of their careers. Of all the reasons the Lions plummeted to 4-12 last season, and have made one playoff appearance in 13 years, this is the one that never goes away — when tough choices have to be made in the draft, they miss. Oh, they've grabbed prime talent at the top, where it's easier, but in the middle rounds, they've failed. The Lions lead the league in busts (arrests) and aren't far behind in busts (blown draft picks). In fact, the two collided magically a few nights ago, when fourth-round pick Ronnell Lewis was arrested after a bar fight in Oklahoma. His three misdemeanor charges topped his tackle total (two) from last season, and if the Lions cut him, sad to say it'd barely be noticeable. This is the high-stakes nature of the draft, and it gets riskier starting tonight. The Lions are in the midst of a roster upheaval, and now they pick from an odd hodge-podge, with all sorts of coveted offensive linemen and difficult-to-gauge defensive talent. Lay it on the O-line They'd love to grab one of the top offensive tackles — Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel or Central Michigan's Eric Fisher — but both are projected to be gone by the fifth pick. Even the third-rated tackle, Oklahoma's Lane Johnson, could be gone. That's a nightmare scenario for the Lions, and while Mayhew publicly stated they'd rather not gamble with such a high pick, they might not have a choice. "You certainly want guys with that high ceiling, but it's also important to make sure you're getting a solid player you can have around for a long time," Mayhew said. "It may not be the best place to swing for the fence." The Lions have swung and tapped weak dribblers in the draft for years. But if the best offensive tackles are gone and Mayhew is unable to trade down, he could be compelled to grab an intriguing defensive player such as BYU's Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah or Oregon's Dion Jordan. Is Ziggy the Ansah? The defensive end is supremely talented and mighty raw, a native of Ghana who has played football only since 2010. He's a boom-or-bust pass-rusher whose upside hopefully trumps the unspoken downside: Drafting Ziggy could end up getting you the ziggy. Do the Lions take a chance on Chance — Chance Warmack, the superb offensive guard from Alabama? Hmm. Guards usually don't go that high but he's uniquely gifted, and the Lions must revamp their offensive line. Or do they play it safe and help their D with Dee Milliner, the top cornerback from Alabama? The Lions always need cornerbacks, but he reportedly has had five surgeries.
No margin for error this time: Lions must get this draft right
Detroit News | Apr 25