Draft picks: 5th, 36th, 65th, 4th round comp, 5th rd, 6th rd, 7th rd
Mayhew said he was targeting 9 out of the possible 23 free agents the lions have. Realistically speaking, i made a list of the probable nine that the leo's should keep
1. Kassim Osgood- Special teams ace
2. Louis Delmas-If and only if the price is right
3. Justin Durant- He's on the list but i doubt he'll be back due to the young linebackers currently on the roster
4. Jason Hanson- Only on the vets minimum
5. Chris Houston- Be prepared for him to take a more lucrative contract elsewhere
6. Sammie Hill- Solid DT, but may fetch a higher contract
7. Corey Hilliard- Has potential to be a player on the O line this year
9. Corey Williams- If he will take a lesser contract, probably the vets minimum, he would make sense bringing back
Biggest Needs: (In order, argue if you'd like)
3. Speed back
Free Agency Outlook: Forget about the Reggie Bush hype, he ain't comin. Why pay someone for his name rather than his " explosive" plays. The guy has had 5 plays over 20+ yards the last two seasons, which I don/t deem good enough for 6 mil a year. While he would be a spark, he wont be a total hit, especially with the money he would attract. Moreover, I don't think there are any offensive players in free agency that are of any interest to the lions. However, on the defensive side there could be a couple to take a look at. William Hayes and Michael Bennett, both DE's, are two names that could greatly benefit the lions. Truthfully, i think the lions are prepared to let both Levy and Durant go, and start a combination of Whitehead or Lewis and Ashlee Palmer. From a cornerback and safety perspective, depending on how much cap room is available, look for them to try to retain Chris Houston and make an attempt at either Sean Smith or Tony Carter.(Brian Xanders connection) For safety, I'm starting to having doubts that Delmas will be a lion next year. I guarantee some some team will overpay for him given his potential, but with his injury risk and two bad knees, is he worth trying to retain at a high cost? If not (don't bring up Jaruis Byrd or Dashon Goldson, they'll probably be franchised) look out for Kenny Phillips or WIlliam Moore. These are two guys who became expendable at the end of the season due to injury, especially Kenny Phillips, but both have played at a high level on winning teams.
If the lions stay put for the most part, I can live with the draft choices. However i think it would be smart to entertain a trade with the NYJ, who hold the ninth pick. I'm going to mock the original draft position even though i would like for them to trade down.
5th Pick OG- Chance Warmack, ALA
Reason: You need an impact starter that can come in and change the dynamics of the game. Also, is there really a DE that has an elite skill set that undoubtedly would impact the game? If anything, Ansah would be the choice but he's way too raw and inexperienced. And Jarvis Jones has that big juicy red flag that the Lions just cannot take a chance on.
36th Pick KR/PR/WR/RB- Tavon Austin, WVU
Reason: Explosive when the ball is in his hands. Fulfills the "juice" that Mayhew wants, although defense needs to be addressed, by selecting Austin you fill four needs with one pick.
65th Pick S/CB- David Amerson, NCST
Reason: Presents great playmaking skills (13 interceptions in 2011) and he was a converted safety from high school. He's a big kid and has the potential to be an instant ball hawk in the secondary, something the lions have lacked since the good ole' days of Dre Bly.
4th Rd Comp DE- Brandon Jenkins, FSU
Reason: Think of a rich man's Cliff Avril. If not for his broken foot in Week 1, Jenkins could have been a fringe first round prospect. You may be asking why a DE this late? Well, I suspect a DE will be signed sometime in free agency that will take Avril's spot. Also note, Bjoern Werner's coming out party was partly due to Jenkins success in 2010, when he totaled 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for a loss. He's a straight up playmaker and the potential for this pick to be a boom outweighs the potential risk
5th Rd WR- Rodney Smith, FSU
Reason: Doesnt have the same skill set as Calvin obviously, but causes similar matchup problems. Can be a downfield threat as well as someone who can win a jump ball.
6th Rd CB- Brandon McGee, MIA
Reason: Big kid, a project but nonetheless has good size and enough talent to be brought along as an outside corner. Just like the 4th rd pick at DE, I'm mocking a cornerback this late simply because if Chris Houston isn't retained, I believe the Leo's will sign a proven and talented CB in free agency.
7th Rd P- Brad Wing, LSU
Reason: I'm sick and tired of the punting situation that seems to always be an underestimated problem. A good defense usually stems from having good field position, something that the lions were unable to do all season.
Overview: If the cards line up, this draft and free agency should help bolster the lions roster and hopefully put them back in unfamiliar territory, the playoffs.
Predicted Starting Lineups:
RB- Leshoure, 3rd down back - Tavon Austin
WR- Ryan Broyles
WR- Rodney Smith
DE- William Hayes
DE- Brandon Jenkins
SLB- Ashlee Palmer
CB- Jonte Green
CB- Chris Houston
S- David Amerson