I mentioned last week that if my life depended on correctly predicting what the Detroit Lions do with the sixth overall pick, I would likely be a goner. A week later, I feel no closer to clarity on the situation.
I’ll probably feel the same the time night of the NFL Draft on April 27. The weird thing is that I love it. I love that I can’t tell you what general manager Brad Holmes and the Detroit Lions have in store for us.
In the past, it has been relatively easy to predict what the Lions were going to do in the draft. Even if you couldn't correctly pick the player, you could at least land your prediction in the same ballpark. Last year is was evident that the Lions were going to select a defensive lineman. The question was just about which one it would be. The year before you could tell that it would be a best player available situation and everyone had Penei Sewell on their list of best players available.
This year I just couldn’t tell you. Are the Lions looking to continue to bolster their defensive line? Do they want to add another corner? What about a receiver or an offensive lineman? What about, gulp, a quarterback? Do the Lions want to trade down? Do they want to trade up? Do they want to do nothing and stay put?
I couldn’t tell you and I love it that way. Not just for the drama and intrigue that it’s going to supply Lions fans over the course of the draft, but because it means that the Lions are finally in a spot where their team is good enough to just do whatever they want in this thing.
I doubt that the Lions want to approach the draft with reckless abandonment, but they’ve built a team good enough to where they could do just that if they wanted to. The Lions are expected to compete now. With that in mind, it seems like going with the best player available to compete right now is the best way to go. Then again, the Lions could see this as an opportunity to build for the future and select a player that fits that mold.
This, at least to me, is a sign that the Lions are being ran the right way for maybe the first time ever. I can’t recall a time where we didn’t look at the draft as a moment where the Lions success almost immediately hinges on whoever the team selects right now.
The Lions can and should score in the draft, but for the first time, they don’t absolutely have to in order to have any semblance of success. They’re good enough to take on a project or two instead of a day one starter because they already have day one starters at literally every position.
And if I don’t have a great idea of what the Lions are going to do, chances are the rest of the NFL probably can’t figure it out either. Unpredictability is a great asset to have in the draft, because it means you can jump ahead of unsuspecting teams or take a player that no one expected you to take—meaning a team won’t trade ahead of you to take him.
If a quarterback falls and the Lions don’t want him, they can be a trade partner for a team that does. If a guy like Will Anderson somehow falls to six, the Lions can be right there to steal him. They have high-value draft capital, which also means those picks could be valuable for a trade down, or they could package some picks to trade up.
There’s a myriad of options for the Lions, and I can’t wait to see what it is this team ultimately does with those options. It’s going to be the best show on TV that week for sure.