Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 20, 2013

Chris Dobrowolski: 3 tackles among top 10?

Sports writer

---- — There are a few reasons why three offensive tackles could be among the top 10 picks in this year's NFL draft.

The lack of a franchise-type quarterback, like last year's crop that was highlighted by Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, is a big one. The fact that the tackle position has become one of the most valuable positions on the field is another. But when you add in that Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel and Lane Johnson have the new-age-of-the-NFL combination of tremendous size and freakish athletic ability, it's easy to see why those three have their names at or near the top of most draft boards.

That seems to fit perfectly with the needs of the Lions, who are seemingly always in the market for improvements on the offensive line. That need was exacerbated by the retirement of left tackle Jeff Backus and the loss of free agent tackle Gosder Cherilus to the Colts.

It would be a perfect fit if Fisher or Joeckel, in particular, fell to Detroit, which picks at No. 5. One figures to be gone at No. 1. It will be the Lions' good fortune if the other slides into their lap. A higher percentage of pundits seem to think Joeckel will be tabbed at No. 1, based upon the belief that he faced better competition in college. As a Central Michigan grad I risk looking like a homer, but I think if Fisher remains on the board when the Lions are ready to pick, he'll be a bookend tackle they need to keep quarterback Matthew Stafford upright for years to come.

Pick: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan