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News » Detroit Lions Inside Slant 2009-04-18

Detroit Lions Inside Slant 2009-04-18

Detroit Lions Inside Slant 2009-04-18
With five of the first 82 picks in the NFL draft, including the No. 1 overall pick, the Lions have an opportunity to build a foundation amid the rubble of the league's first 0-16 season.

"We need to take advantage of those," coach Jim Schwartz said.

Poor drafts led to this low point. President Matt Millen was fired last year, and this will be the first time general manager Martin Mayhew makes the final call in the draft.

Mayhew and Schwartz believe in building from the inside out. They want a bigger, stronger team that runs the ball and stops the run. The Lions' roster is so decimated that they will consider all options and, in general, take the best player available. They won't reach for a particular position.

"We're going to look at every possibility that we can to improve our team, and we're going to go in with an open mind," Schwartz said. "We talked about the No. 1 pick. Would you trade it? Maybe. Would you be comfortable with picking a quarterback there? Maybe. Would you be comfortable picking a left tackle there? Maybe.

"I think at our point where we are as an organization, we need to be open to everything. We're not at the point where one player is going to put us over the top, so we need to look at the big picture, not the small picture."

Mayhew has said signing the No. 1 pick before the draft is of "critical importance." The Lions have had preliminary negotiations with multiple candidates, but 10 days before the draft, they hadn't moved past that point. Asked if the No. 1 pick was set, Schwartz said: "No, not 100 percent. There's still discussions to be had."

Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford appears to be the leading candidate, with Baylor left tackle Jason Smith, Virginia left tackle Eugene Monroe and Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry also in the mix.

The Lions also have the No. 20, No. 33, No. 65 and No. 82 picks, plus two sixth-rounders and a seventh-rounder. They have the ammunition to move up, but Mayhew might not.

"I'm more of a trade-back type of guy," Mayhew said. "I would never say never, but I would be much more inclined to trade back than I would to trade up. Usually if you assume the draft is about value, usually that would indicate you would try to trade back most of the time, because you're not going to get value giving up picks to get up."

Millen used to receive good reviews immediately after his drafts, only to see his picks fail on the field. Mayhew, who worked under Millen, paid attention to that.

"We've gotten A's before in April, but then three years later, it doesn't look as good as it looked in April," Mayhew said. "So my emphasis should be on how this looks three years from now, not how it looks in April. So we might not get an A. I'll tell you that now. My goal is to get an A three years from now."

TEAM NEEDS: Quarterback, middle linebacker, guard, defensive tackle, defensive back.

QB -- The Lions hope Daunte Culpepper can regain his form. He has lost weight and rejoins offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, under whom he had his best years in Minnesota. But Culpepper is on a one-year, incentive-laden deal for a reason. Drew Stanton, a second-round pick in 2007, has had little practice time in the NFL, let alone playing time. Drew Henson is the only other QB on the roster.

MLB -- The Lions have a gaping hole. Jordon Dizon was drafted in the second round last year to play the middle, but that was to play the middle in the Tampa Two defense -- and he failed to win the starting job for that staff. Now the new staff wants bigger, stronger players, and Dizon, a smaller, speedier guy, will be a backup on the outside.

OG -- The Lions have been searching for stability at left guard for years, and they could solve it by drafting a left tackle. Jeff Backus, who has started every game at left tackle since he was drafted in the first round in 2001, could move to guard. Or the rookie could start out at left guard.

DT -- The Lions traded Shaun Rogers to Cleveland last year and Cory Redding to Seattle this year. They signed veteran Grady Jackson to plug the middle, but he's 36. And veteran Chuck Darby and two of last year's picks -- Andre Fluellen and Landon Cohen -- were acquired by the previous staff to fit the Tampa Two.

DB -- The Lions' secondary intercepted only one pass last season, and the Lions released the man who got it: cornerback Leigh Bodden. The Lions need help at corner even though they have numbers there, with Phillip Buchanon, Anthony Henry, Travis Fisher, Eric King and Keith Smith. They need help at safety even though they have two second-round picks there: Daniel Bullocks and Gerald Alexander. Bullocks missed 2007 with a torn ACL. Alexander is coming off a fractured vertebra.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 18, 2009

Gerald Alexander Name: Gerald Alexander
Position: DB
Age: 24
Experience: 2 years
College: Boise State
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