NFC North: Derrick Morgan

DraftWatch: Behind Suh

December, 24, 2009
This week’s SportsNation chat is the gift that keeps on giving. Joe of Detroit asked the question many Lions fans are considering: “If you are the Lions GM and say Suh is off the board. Who are you drafting?”

The Lions currently stand at No. 2 in our speculative order for selecting in the 2010 draft. I actually think it’s possible Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh could be available if the Lions hold at No. 2. With St. Louis positioned ahead of them, a quarterback could be the No. 1 overall pick. But if Joe’s scenario is right, who are the early favorites to be taken in the next few slots?

I’ll add the standard disclaimer that the draft evaluation process doesn’t begin in earnest until next month, when the college all-star games begin. But as I’ve written before, it’s never too early for media speculation!

During our chat, I suggested Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy or Tennessee defensive back Eric Berry. If all things were equal, I would say the Lions would benefit most from a big-time defensive tackle. The No. 2 overall pick is awfully high to pick a safety, unless you think he can play cornerback.

But don’t take my word for it. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. updated his Big Board on Tuesday. You'll need an Insider subscription to view the entire list, but here is his current listing of the draft's top five players:

1. Suh
2. McCoy
3. Berry
4. Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen
5. Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford

ESPN’s Scouts Inc. takes a different view, so let’s take a look at their top five players as well:

1. Berry
2. Suh
3. McCoy
4. Florida cornerback Joe Haden
5. Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan

It’s important to note the three common denominators: Suh, McCoy and Berry. As the final days of 2009 dwindle away, that trio should be your early target for inspection.

DraftWatch: Let's get it started

December, 3, 2009
I’ll put this as delicately as I can. Detroit isn’t going to make the playoffs this season. The Lions’ final five games aren’t as important as, say, those of many other NFL teams. So I hope no one is offended if we expand our Lions focus to include the 2010 draft.

(We could do the same for Chicago, but, uh, let’s just say this isn’t shaping up to be an eventful draft for the Bears.)

Draft mania starts earlier and earlier every year, and you might be surprised at how many mailbag questions and chat comments I’ve been getting about the Lions’ potential targets. I can honestly say on Dec. 3 that I have no idea how the Lions regard the draft class of 2010. But that doesn’t mean we can’t discuss these issues among ourselves.

If the season ended today, the Lions’ 2-9 record would give them the No. 4 overall pick. I think we can agree they have needs across their roster, with the exception of quarterback. So let’s start off this conversation by taking a look at the top of Mel Kiper’s Big Board and Scouts Inc.’s Top 32. (Both lists include draft-eligible juniors.)

Kiper’s full list is behind ESPN’s Insider paywall, but I’ll pass along his top 6 players because two of them are quarterbacks. Keep in mind that Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap was among this group until his recent legal issues.

1. Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh
2. Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy
3.Tennessee defensive back Eric Berry
4. Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen
5. Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford
6. Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung

And here are the top 6 according to Scouts Inc:

1. Berry
2. McCoy
3. Suh
4. Okung
5. Florida cornerback Joe Haden
6. Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan

As we’ve discussed previously, I think it would be criminal for the Lions not to focus on both of their lines during the next few drafts. Some individual positions are of more immediate need than others and some are harder to fill. Left tackle is at the top of both lists, as far as I’m concerned. So for that reason, if I’m the Lions, I’m taking a hard look at Okung and any other blue-chip left tackles that emerge during predraft workouts.

Like it or not, the best left tackles are often high draft choices. The position requires such a specific skill set and physical parameters that there simply aren’t many players available each year who can play it at a high level.

Of course, I wouldn’t argue with a playmaking defensive tackle to fit the Albert Haynesworth role in coach Jim Schwartz’s defense.

If it were up to you, what would you prefer?