Trade brings No. 1 overall pick into focus
Barring a significant change over the next six weeks, Detroit has greatly diminished the possibility that it will select Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry with the No. 1 overall pick of next month's draft.
That's a primary upshot of the trade that sent Lions defensive tackle Cory Redding to Seattle in exchange for linebacker Julian Peterson on Saturday. Peterson will pair with Ernie Sims, the Lions' top returning defensive player, to give the Lions veteran bookends at the linebacker position. Curry primarily played outside linebacker during his college career, meaning someone would have to change positions -- or Sims would have to be the next to move on -- for Curry to fit into the 2009 starting lineup in what is expected to be a 4-3 defense.
Peterson will turn 31 this summer and has seen his sack total fall in each of the past two seasons after notching 10.5 for the Seahawks in 2006. But he is still enough of a pass-rushing threat that teams will have to account for his presence, a modest obstacle the Lions have rarely benefited from in recent years.
The cost was relatively significant -- Redding and a fifth-round draft choice -- but Redding didn't fit the mold of the bigger, stronger defense new coach Jim Schwartz plans to implement. At 295 pounds, Redding in essence was a defensive end playing tackle for the Lions over the past two years. Moving him back outside wasn't as simple as it sounds; players tend to lose speed over time, and counting on him to return to form as a pass-rushing defensive end would have been risky.
Ironically, Curry was scheduled to visit the Lions' practice facility on Sunday. We're assuming that meeting will occur as planned, and it's still conceivable the Lions could draft him if they determine he is the best player in the draft. But if nothing else, Saturday's trade eliminated the "need factor" from their thought process.
Depending on that evaluation, we could be down to a two-man race for the No. 1 overall pick: Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford and Baylor offensive lineman Jason Smith.