With the 20th pick of the 2009 Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft, the Detroit Lions select Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis.
Here is DrewsLions' reasoning for the pick:
I know that this pick is of great interest to all of you on a number of levels, so I will take you through my thought process and be as thorough in my explanation as I can. As I began researching this pick, I realized that it was not going to be an easy task. I can see the Lions' interest in trading down here. But I don't have that luxury. So I began the task of whittling down my list of prospects until I came up with three that I seriously considered taking: Vontae Davis, Andre Smith and James Laurinaitis.
I need to say that my pick was set to be Peria Jerry. I even had the write up done, because I REALLY didn't think Tampa Bay or Denver would take him. I initially did not like Jerry as the pick, but the more research I did on him, the more I liked him. Yes, he was a little undersized, but his athleticism was second to none - just wanted to make that clear.
Both Andre Smith and Vontae Davis are very tempting options as well. But with both, the same problem enters the picture - character. Both guys are talented, no real doubts there. Actually, on talent alone, both of these guys should have been top 15 picks. But the Lions have been burned by these types of picks so many times in the past. I think if I was picking for any other contender team in the league, I would consider either of these players. But with the Lions, risk-taking is simply not an option. Even so, I feel like there is no player here that is not a little bit of a risk.
In a full 33-pick mock draft I did for this site a few months ago, I had taken Laurinaitis at number 20. I have to admit my feelings on Laurinaitis have changed a little since then. Because the MLB is arguably the most important position on a 4-3 defense, I think if you draft a guy in the first round you need to feel certain he is the long-term answer. Although I have to admit that I am not 100% confident that he is a star, I think that Laurinaitis is a definite upgrade at the position. If I knew I could get him at pick 25 or so and pick up another draft pick in a trade, this becomes a very easy decision. But even here at 20, I think there is value in the pick and an instant upgrade at the position. He has the size and speed of the prototypical middle linebacker. He's smart and I think under the tutelage of Schwartz and Cunningham, he should flourish. Two other players I briefly considered were Robert Ayers and Darius Butler. Although if we had not picked up Buchanon in free agency, I might have taken a chance and picked Davis.
Bottom line is that the Lions have needs everywhere on the defense and I just wasn't willing to take anyone with serious question marks. I wanted to get a good player with value at this particular slot and I felt confident enough in Laurinaitis to believe he would be a good player for the Lions. Will he be great... I don't know. I'm sure this selection won't satisfy everyone. I honestly wish that a better situation presented itself as well. But that's how the draft goes. It's about adapting and getting the best mix of talent and need on the board. I think I did.
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