For the last month or so, the 2013 NFL Draft has been our main focus. It was a big topic of conversation in January for sure, but the main focus then was really on wrapping up the 2012 season. February was all about the draft with the season coming to a close and the combine taking place. Now, it's time to transition to free agency, which officially begins on Tuesday, March 12. (The negotiating period starts this upcoming Saturday.)
Before we put the draft on the back burner a bit for free agency, I want to see where everybody stands when it comes to the Detroit Lions' first-round pick. With the combine out of the way, it's clear that certain players are starting to emerge as favorites for the fifth overall selection. Free agency could have a big impact on that, though. Needs could change after only a week or two of free agency, so what do you want the Lions to do with the fifth overall pick as of right now? Vote in the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments.
Based on where things stand at this point in time, my take is that the Lions should draft the top available offensive tackle if Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel or Central Michigan's Eric Fisher is still on the board. If neither player is there, then I'd probably go with BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. Trading down would be the best option, but for the sake of settling on one specific position, that's not a choice in this poll. (Plus, trading down is easier said than done.)
The way I look at this poll is that if the Lions had the top overall pick, I'd want them to take Joeckel or Fisher. By adding another first-round offensive tackle, the Lions would take an important step in upgrading their offensive line. You'd have a replacement for Jeff Backus when he retires or Gosder Cherilus if he leaves in free agency, and you'd have the flexibility to move Riley Reiff inside to guard in 2013. Then, if someone like Jason Fox does a solid job at right tackle, you're only in need of an upgrade at center in 2014. Essentially, you'd almost be set for the foreseeable future.
Guys like Ansah and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner are intriguing options as well, but I just feel better about the impact one of the offensive tackles could make. Also, I think the Lions can address their defensive needs later in the draft since the defensive end and cornerback classes are so deep.
Free agency could certainly change my mind pretty quickly depending on what happens, but for now, I'm jumping on the offensive tackle bandwagon.