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If the Detroit Lions are truly looking to improve their interior offensive line, drafting Alabama's Barrett Jones would make a lot of sense.
Given that so many potential draft picks played in the BCS National Championship on Monday night, a lot of NFL fans tuned in just to see how certain players might fit with their team. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, for example, is viewed by many as a top-five pick, and although that view has probably changed quite a bit given his lackluster performance, a lot of eyes were on him.
A lot of eyes were also obviously on Alabama, which has several players who could be first-round picks this year and several others who may be first-round picks in future years. One potential first-round pick this year who stood out to me is center Barrett Jones. His stock ranges from late first round to early second round, although it seems to be trending upward as of late. SB Nation's latest 2013 NFL mock draft, for example, has Jones going 32nd overall to the Green Bay Packers.
My personal hope is that Jones lasts until the Detroit Lions go on the clock in the second round with the 36th overall pick. I've been on the Jones bandwagon for a while, and if they have a shot at him in the second round, this seems like a no-brainer type of pick. Jones has been the leader of one of the nation's best offensive lines for a few years now, and he's done it at multiple positions. Just check out this graphic from ESPN:
Jones is expected to be a guard or center in the NFL. He can play either position, and that versatility is a big plus in my book, especially for a Lions team in need of better play in the interior of their offensive line. Center Dominic Raiola and right guard Stephen Peterman are still under contract, but both are getting older and could be candidates to be replaced this offseason. Bill Nagy, who was claimed off waivers last summer and spent the season on injured reserve, could be a candidate to replace one of them, and I'd like to see Jones come in as a potential starter as well. He helped Alabama dominate Notre Dame on Monday, and the Crimson Tide made one of the nation's top defenses look nothing more than average. Oh, and he did this all on a bad foot:
If you shut off the BCS postgame, Barrett Jones just said he's got a Lisfranc injury that he's going to have to "get fixed" soon— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) January 8, 2013
The obvious issue with this whole idea of the Lions selecting Jones revolves around when he will be picked. He isn't somebody you take with the fifth overall pick, and even trading down a bit would still leave the Lions in reach territory for Jones. This is why their second-round pick is the likely target for Jones. I personally would be surprised if he fell all the way to No. 36 overall, but then again, look how far Riley Reiff and David DeCastro fell last year. Even if he doesn't make it all the way to 36th overall, perhaps the Lions could pull the trigger on a trade that gets them back into the first round. If he's there at No. 30 or something, maybe you give up a future pick or two in order to upgrade your offensive line.
It's still too early to get a decent idea about where Jones will land in the draft, but I'm definitely on his bandwagon when it comes to potential Lions picks. At some point the Lions are going to have to upgrade their center and right guard, and Jones seems like somebody who has the potential to come in and become a starter in his rookie season at either position.