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News » Lions might take 'safe' route in draft

Lions might take 'safe' route in draft

Lions might take 'safe' route in draft
DANA POINT, Calif. -- When it comes to dispensing information about their plans for the April 25 draft, the Detroit Lions are pretty tight-lipped.

But coach Jim Schwartz will freely acknowledge one thing: Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry and Baylor left tackle Jason Smith are "safe picks."

Schwartz was quizzed about his thoughts on potential picks for Detroit's No. 1 spot during Wednesday's NFC head coaches media session at the NFL owners' meetings.

Schwartz praised Smith's athleticism, intelligence and passion, and he said this of Curry: "It's been a long time since I've seen such a multidimensional linebacker."

Either of those players would instantly upgrade the Lions' roster and likely would reduce the odds of Detroit selecting another bust in the first round. But Schwartz also made it clear that he's not necessarily thinking of playing it safe with that first overall pick.

"I might go for it on fourth-and-one every once in awhile. I don't know if safe is part of the criteria for the No. 1 pick," Schwartz said. "You want to feel comfortable with the guy and things like that, but I don't think that when you look at that, you say 'Hey, look, this is safe.' Safe choice, a little bit, sounds like compromise."

While Smith and Curry are expected to be high-level players in the NFL as rookies, because of the unknown variables involved with a quarterback -- such as Georgia's Matthew Stafford -- there is more room for error when a team drafts that position.

"I never really thought of it that way. It might," Schwartz said. "There probably are more variables at that position than other positions. I never really looked at it that way, but it probably does make it a little bit longer odds. He has more hoops to jump through."

There are a large number of draft experts, including ESPN's Mel Kiper, who believe the quarterback-thin Lions can't afford to pass on drafting Stafford. Schwartz understands why people believe the Lions, like all NFL teams, need to solidify that position.

"I think that's paramount. We need to find a quarterback," Schwartz said. "I've been on the record saying quarterback is the most important position on the team, but there are a lot of different ways to get that quarterback.

"We need to be long-term at that position, we need to have a guy that's 'that' guy. When I went up to Detroit the first time, they asked me the same question and I said, 'It's about time we found a replacement for Bobby Layne.' And it was a little bit tongue-in-cheek but it also sort of played into what (the media has said) -- You need to find that."

That is not an admission, however, that the Lions are going to draft Stafford. In fact, the Lions are so secretive with their draft plans that not only will they not reveal which players they hope to draft, but they won't even acknowledge what positions they're going to target.

The Lions have five picks in the first three rounds, and Schwartz was asked to identify the top five position needs.

"I'd rather not go into that right now. I'm going to play our hand, so to speak. We have a lot of needs and it might be hard to identify five for us. Let's leave it at that," Schwartz said.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 27, 2009

Rudolph Hardie Name: Rudolph Hardie
Position: DT
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