Not sure if he reads this blog, but DetroitFan99 had a spectacular post that was pretty much ignored on Mlive. Well, here it is so that we can examine it more:
The concept of "need" when it comes to any football team is an interesting concept. How does one prioritize the "needs" of a particular team?
Is a need always prioritized by the position where the team is weakest? So if you are really weak at punter and have a slightly below avg running back is punter the greater "need" because it is the greater weakness?
Or is a need prioritized by what will improve the team the most if filled with a high quality player even if that particular position is not as weak as other positions?
Should the prioritization of a need be affected by how strong the team is at other positions that are directly effected by the play of that particular position?
All good questions to consider regarding the Lions' "needs" and upcoming draft day.
Very good questions to think about this time of year when there are "experts" who have done nothing but read other experts' mock drafts. There was a great piece on sports illustrated.com that talked about how the draft, and mock drafts in particular, have changed over the years - and what to look for. It also showed how they can have an affect on teams, if they allow it.
When you look at that in context with the above questions, it can easily burst the bubble of "know it all Mel Kiper with better hair" persona many begin to affect this time of year. How many mocks have the Lions taking a RB in round one -- yet, if we truthfully answer the questions above in regards to "should they?" -- then it is obviously a punter-type situation. You may want the top punter, but he's going to be there in the 5th or later. You may even be able to get an UDFA punter who will do as well or better. I think RB falls into that category. As nobsnubber pointed out, the Lions currently have a "speed back" in Calhoun, a "one cut runner" in Bell and just need a grind 'em up steamroller to fill out the current roster. Don't need to take one of the first, or even second, round backs to get that punishing runner. About a 90% chance one of their top choices will still be there for the first pick in the 3rd.
How about a QB in the 5th again if the right prospect falls - to give Orlovsky, Stanton, and Kitna more competition? I'd prefer they wait til later -- perhaps a 6 th or 7th round flier on a possible Tom Brady (LOL -- that has to be thrown into every mention of late round draft picks, right?) Again, looking at need as it is questioned above, those are good things to keep in mind.
I think that, using the criteria above the only true need the Lions have is...nothing. Surprised you there, didn't I? I know that MLB is probably the weakest position on the team right now -- but is it more of a need than a top speed rusher, if they feel the "right guy" is there in the first? Which will impact the defense more -- an immediate upgrade to the Pass Rush, or an upgrade to the MLB? Sure, I'm not saying they couldn't use both -- but there is also the matter of who can you get where?
While I often mock-mocks, the Lions (and every NFL team) not only has their own draft board, but tries to make an educated guess as to who other teams are, or may be, targeting. Does this cause teams to sometimes pick someone "early"? Of course -- but is it better "early" or not getting the player you wanted?
I personally feel that the draft is, at its core, about developing talent. There are some "impact" rookies, but most are just like any other college student entering the workforce -- whether they think so or not, they all need work. That is why passion for the game, character, and work ethic are also very important. A person can have all the talent in the world, but if they aren't willing to learn how to focus and improve it -- they will never rise above the level of gifted amateur to be a real professional. I know that I've blogged on this before - "I can teach an average salesperson how to be good, and a good one how to be great -- but I can't really do much with a potentially great salesperson who won't listen, won't learn, and tries to coast on natural ability. I can get way more production out of the first two people than I can the third -- because they are willing to listen, and work." Nobsnubber pointed out the fact that flexibility isn't the only important factor, and that work ethic plays into how flexible a player is or is willing to be. I didn't bring it up in that post, but still believe that is always the first priority when looking for Marinelli-type players.