Thursday, April 22, 2010
Detroit: What if it isn't Suh?
By Kevin Seifert
In these final hours before the NFL draft opens, you would have to look pretty hard to find a media analyst who is convinced the Detroit Lions won't take Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh with the No. 2 overall pick. But what if they don't? What if the Lions, led by one of the more mysterious general managers in the league, pull a surprise and look elsewhere?
(That means you, Martin Mayhew.)
What would that mean for the Lions? Who would they pick? Where would that leave the rest of the draft? (Why am I asking so many questions?) Let's consider some possibilities while we await the opening bell:
I'm not trying to shake up any Detroit fans who are lighting by cyberspace in hopes that Suh becomes a Lion this evening. But we should all be realistic and accept that anyone who thinks they absolutely, positively know what's going to happen is either lying, delusional or an NFC North blogger for ESPN.com.
- As we discussed a few weeks ago, many media draft analysts actually favor Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy as a pure prospect. Suh is considered the so-called "safer" choice because of his heavy college production. Still, we've got nothing other than conventional wisdom and peer pressure telling us the Lions rank Suh over McCoy. For all we know, it could be McCoy.
- We could be wrong in assuming the Lions aren't factoring in the finances of paying No. 2 money to a defensive tackle. As we noted earlier this offseason, it is one of the game's lowest-paid positions. Let's not totally rule out the possibility that the Lions would look at a left tackle for that reason, even though coach Jim Schwartz has said he is happy with current starter Jeff Backus. Two of the draft's top left tackles visited the Lions' complex: Oklahoma State's Russell Okung and Oklahoma's Trent Williams. No one should be stunned if either were the pick.
- If the Lions went with a left tackle instead of Suh or McCoy, it's very possible the rookie would open the season as a reserve. Backus could well remain at left tackle, with newcomer Rob Sims the likely starter at left guard. The Lions are one year removed from giving right guard Stephen Peterman a five-year contract extension. And it seems that right tackle Gosder Cherilus will get one more year to establish himself.
- Without Suh or McCoy, the likeliest starting defensive tackle duo would be Corey Williams and Sammie Lee Hill. Unless the Lions trade for Washington defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, another possible impediment to drafting Suh.
- If the Lions draft McCoy, you would figure Tampa Bay will snatch Suh at No. 3. The rest of the draft would be unaffected.
- If the choice is Okung or Williams, the draft could get turned on its heels. Either Suh or McCoy could fall as far as Cleveland at No. 7, but probably no further.
- Finally, we shouldn't assume the Lions will react to popular sentiment, including that of their own fans. Don't forget that last year, Lions fans were urging them to take linebacker Aaron Curry over quarterback Matthew Stafford.