One seemingly common theme with 2011 NFL mock drafts is the idea that the Detroit Lions need to protect Matthew Stafford and can't do so right now. Unless Prince Amukamara is available, everybody seems to think that the Lions will take an offensive tackle because the current O-line could use an upgrade. I've personally been against the idea of taking a lineman because I don't see any pick being an upgrade for at least a few years, and I think you can build for the future in later rounds with guys like Jason Fox.
If the Lions end up selecting an offensive tackle because he's the best player available, that's fine. The issue I have is with the pundits that think the Lions are in dire need of replacing somebody like Jeff Backus or Gosder Cherilus. Could the O-line play better at times? Sure. But it's not like the quarterback is being sacked every other play. Injuries were more bad luck than bad protection, which is exactly what Martin Mayhew's point was earlier this week when he brought up the play of the Lions' offensive line last season.
"I read one article, I said, 'This guy doesn't know what he's talking about,' " Mayhew said. "Then I read another one, and I thought, 'Wait a minute, they're all saying the same thing.'
"They're all saying that's an issue for us, that that's a problem for us. I think they make a connection between the injuries and the ability to protect the quarterback, when that may not be a correct assumption. ... Sometimes injuries just happen, and you just get a bunch of things at the same time."
Mayhew added that "anytime you're not the best at something, you can improve." But his main point was that the Lions' offensive line is not as bad as everybody makes it out to be. Per the Free Press, they gave up the sixth-fewest amount of sacks in the NFL, and while it's true that building for the future is important with somebody like Backus getting older, it's not like the current offensive linemen are guys off the street. Could an OT be selected with the 13th pick? Of course, but the pick wouldn't be made because the current O-line can't protect Stafford.