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Friday, April 17, 2009
On the Clock: Detroit Lions

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Team needs: Many after 0-16. But here's one stab at the top three: Quarterback, offensive tackle, middle linebacker.

 
  Tom Hauck/Getty Images
  Is Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford too risky for the No. 1 pick?
Dream scenario: Having the No. 1 pick assures the Lions their choice of any college player in the land. Unfortunately, the best-case scenario would be to trade it. Detroit has holes across the board, including quarterback, and only eight draft picks to fill them. Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford is a somewhat risky selection at No. 1 overall, and the other primary candidates -- Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith and Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry -- have their deficiencies as well. That's all the more reason for Detroit to trade down. But good luck finding a partner. The top pick is an albatross that no one wants because of its enormous contract requirements. Still, that's the Lions' dream scenario.

Plan B: Assuming they can't trade down, the safest pick is probably Curry. He is a top playmaker and would step in right away at middle linebacker. But Curry played on the outside in college and would need to make an adjustment. Smith, or possibly Virginia offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, might offer the best long-term fit for the Lions. Jeff Backus would move to left guard and the Lions would have accomplished the important goal of upgrading their offensive line. Stafford could ultimately be their choice, but only if they are convinced that his accuracy and consistency issues in college are correctable.

Scouts Inc. take: "It's hard for me to see them taking Aaron Curry after they traded for Julian Peterson to play on the strong side. I know Curry could play middle linebacker, but I don't see him being the best player in the draft as a middle linebacker. That's what you have to weigh. If I were Detroit, I'd figure out a way to draft Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji. [Lions coach] Jim Schwartz could make Raji into the next Albert Haynesworth in his defense. You don't take Raji at No. 1, but maybe they can maneuver things somehow. That would be huge for them." -- Jeremy Green, Scouts Inc.

Who has final say: Martin Mayhew is entering his first draft as the Lions' general manager after eight years as an assistant in the Lions' front office. Mayhew is taking guidance from senior personnel executive James "Shack" Harris but has responsibility for all draft-day decisions.

Previous On the Clock: The St. Louis Rams. The team-by-team series.