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The second Kevin Smith went down in Baltimore last season, the running back position shot to the top of the list of needs for the 2010 offseason. While the severity of Smith's injury wasn't known at the time, it was pretty obvious that he messed up his knee pretty bad, immediately prompting questions of just how long he would be out. The following week we found out that Smith tore up his ACL at the very least, meaning his status for the 2010 season was in doubt despite it being so far away.
Heading into the offseason, the Lions had to decide just how they were going to add a big-play running back to the team to plan ahead for the possibility of Smith not being ready come September. Free agency provided many decent options since there were a few veteran backs on the market. The only one the Lions really seemed to be interested in was Chester Taylor, though, and he quickly signed with the Bears. At the same time, although the front office greatly improved the team with trades, as I discussed in the last edition of this series, there were never any serious rumblings about making a move to acquire a back that way. A move certainly could have happened if a great offer came the Lions' way, but none did, leaving the draft as the last real option to upgrade the running back position.
In the months leading up to the draft, speculation suggested that the Lions could select a running back with their second-round pick. The thinking was that, since the Lions have the 34th overall selection, chances are one of the top backs would still be on the board, and if one slipped to the end of the first round, there was always the option of trading up. As it turns out, that speculation was right on target, as we all now know.
With the first round winding down and day one of the draft coming to an end, Lions fans were really just watching to see who was taken with the final few picks in order to determine who would be available when day two rolls around. What happened instead, however, was the surprising news that the Lions were back on the clock, taking over the 30th overall pick that originally belonged to the Vikings. Shortly after the Lions' logo appeared on the screen next to pick No. 30, the selection was in, Detroit's need for a running back was gone, and Jahvid Best was now a Lion.
Although many have questioned the decision to move up when there was a chance of waiting and getting Best with the 34th overall pick, it's obvious who the best player available (don't worry, this is the last time I plan on using this pun) was on the Lions' board. Just like Dez Bryant with the Cowboys, the Lions watched as picks came and Best remained available. Once the Vikings got on the clock, the Lions made the decision to jump up to ensure that they got their man.
The impact this pick will have on the Lions in 2010 is rather obvious. Best can come in and make plays. The Lions have a lot of offensive weapons, but not someone like Best, who can really make things happen out of the backfield. What's more, the Lions now have insurance in case Kevin Smith isn't ready to go come September, and if he is ready to go, then the Lions have a nice one-two punch.
I'm sure Smith is going to be extra motivated to get back and be better than ever now that Best is a member of the team, and that competition should drive both he and Best to take their game to a new level. Running back by committee is a great strategy, and if Smith is healthy, he and Best can combine to form a pretty damn good committee behind Matthew Stafford in the Lions' backfield.