Traverse City Record-Eagle


May 6, 2014

James Cook: Detroit's draft could hinge on quarterbacks

It's all about the quarterbacks.

There's a lot of teams that need them, and many of the franchises picking ahead of the Detroit Lions are in that same boat.

That helps the Lions, who have to be hoping for a repeat of 2011.

That year, after Cam Newton, it was unclear how high quarterbacks would go in the draft. Many thought only Newton would go in the top half of the first round.

Then four — for better or worse; mostly the latter — were picked in the top 12. Nick Fairley fell into the Lions' lap because of that and now Detroit has one of the league's most feared defensive lines.

If those four QB-drafting teams had it to do over again, only one would have taken a signal-caller. Jake Locker (Tennessee), Blaine Gabbert (Jacksonville) and Christian Ponder (Minnesota) have been huge disappointments thus far.

Maybe teams will learn from those mistakes, maybe not. They all know not to reach for quarterbacks, but teams still do. Every year.

And for the Lions to have a shot at the players they really covet, having teams get desperate and throw away picks on throwers is a great way for that to happen.

There's lots of talk about trading up to get receivers Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans, but that's not likely to happen. In a draft this deep, GM Martin Mayhew will value those extra selections that he'd have to surrender to move up into the top five to snag Watkins.

If the Lions are dead set on a receiver and stay at No. 10 overall, tight end Eric Ebron could be an option. He'd form a nice two-end set with Brandon Pettigrew and open up space downfield for Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate.

Cornerback is always an option. New defensive coordinator Teryl Austin loves depth in the secondary.

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