The 2013 NFL Draft may be more than two months away, but if you set odds on the Detroit Lions' first-round pick, two positions would be the favorites. Based on the Lions' needs, the players projected to be available at the No. 5 overall pick and the players believed to be worth selecting that high, it seems likely right now that the Lions will take either an offensive tackle or a defensive end.
Defensive end has really been the clear-cut favorite for the Lions since the season came to an end. This is mainly because the Lions are figured to lose Cliff Avril, and the fact that they recently released Kyle Vanden Bosch only adds to the likelihood that a defensive end will be their first-round pick.
At the same time, it seems like the bandwagon has been growing for those who want the Lions to take an offensive tackle with the fifth overall pick. Although it seems unlikely that Luke Joeckel will be available, he would be an outstanding first-round pick, and don't sleep on Central Michigan's Eric Fisher.
While there are certainly other positions worth considering for the fifth overall pick, let's focus strictly on offensive tackle and defensive end for right now. Which position is the better option for the Lions' first-round pick? Let's take a look at the positives for each.
- Paired with Riley Reiff, would potentially give the Lions their set of starting tackles for the next decade
- Could take over for Jeff Backus or Gosder Cherilus, who is a free agent
- Would give the Lions the flexibility to move Reiff inside to guard to replace Stephen Peterman
- Could improve the run game
- Giving Matthew Stafford more protection is never a bad idea
- Helps fill perhaps the Lions' biggest need
- Gives the Lions someone to replace Vanden Bosch or potentially Avril
- Adding a young, talented defensive end to play alongside Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley would help solidify the defensive line
- Could set in motion a draft focused on improving the defense
- Drafting someone to rush the passer is never a bad idea
The biggest argument against offensive tackle is that the Lions would be better served focusing on improving their defense, especially if Backus returns and they somehow re-sign Cherilus. Then offensive tackle isn't nearly as big of a need, whereas defensive end will probably still be in need of some help even if Avril is somehow re-signed.
The argument against defensive end is that the position is deep and guys like Bjoern Werner, Damontre Moore and Ezekiel Ansah aren't necessarily "elite" players. Perhaps the Lions could wait until the second round to address this need rather than spend the No. 5 overall selection on a player who potentially isn't actually at a top-five level.
I've been on "Team Defensive End" since the offseason began, but I am warming up to the idea of taking Joeckel or Fisher. The Lions definitely need help at defensive end, but I do like the idea of having a top offensive tackle to go along with Reiff, who was last year's first-round pick. I guess if I had to decide, I'd stick with defensive end for now, but I'm just not sold on the top players at that position at this point in time. Depending on what happens in free agency, I could easily see myself switching my vote to offensive tackle before the draft arrives.
What about you? If it comes down to an offensive tackle or a defensive end for the No. 5 overall pick, which position would you want the Lions to take?