This might have been one of the most unusual moves in the draft. There was no question the Lions were targeting a running back with their second-round pick, which was scheduled to be the 34th overall selection. Starting running back Kevin Smith was coming off a knee reconstruction and the Lions needed a running threat to take some of the pressure off quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Not wanting to risk the chance of losing him between picks No. 30 to 33, the Lions gave three picks to the rival Minnesota Vikings to move up to No. 30, where they grabbed Best. Despite Stafford’s strong arm and the presence of Calvin Johnson at wide receiver, the Lions didn’t have the running attack to make life easier for their rookie quarterback in 2009. Jets QB Mark Sanchez ended up making the playoffs as a rookie because his team could run the ball. Joe Flacco of the Ravens and Matt Ryan of the Falcons had rookie-season playoff runs on good running teams. The Lions averaged only 101 rushing yards and 25.6 rushing attempts a game last season. Neither mark was good enough to put Stafford in position to win games.
Early reports on Best are excellent. He catches the ball well and has explosiveness. There was still a decent chance Best could have fallen to the Lions at No. 34. The Colts, Saints and Rams had the next three picks, and of those three teams, St. Louis was likely the only real threat to take Best.
The Lions are a draft or two away from being competitive. Making life tougher for Detroit is a division stacked with good quarterbacks -- Brett Favre in Minnesota, Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay and Jay Cutler in Chicago. It’s still possible the Lions could go 0-6 in division play, but if Best and Smith kick-start the running game, the Lions could be more of a factor this year.