Traverse City Record-Eagle

Sports

May 6, 2014

Dennis Chase: Pick may be determined by how many QBs are off board

If the Detroit Lions stay at No. 10 in Thursday's NFL Draft, their pick could be determined by how many quarterbacks are off the board by then.

The Associated Press mock draft (page 4B) predicts just one quarterback — Johnny Manziel to Oakland at No. 5 — will be taken that early. The AP has Detroit selecting Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert.

I'm guessing two quarterbacks will go in the top eight — Manziel to Cleveland at No. 4 and Blake Bortles to Minnesota at No. 8. I also think receivers Sammy Watkins and Michael Evans; offensive tackles Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Tyler Lewan; defensive end Jadeveon Clowney; and linebacker Khalil Mack will gone by the time the Lions are on the clock.

So that would leave GM Martin Mayhew looking at pass rushing linebacker Anthony Barr; cornerbacks Gilbert, Darqueze Dennard and Kyle Fuller; safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix; receivers Odell Beckham and Eric Ebron; and versatile offensive lineman Zack Martin.

Now if someone falls to Detroit, like Lewan or Matthews, that might make Mayhew's decision right there. Quality left tackles are always at a premium, evidenced by the fact that three of the top four picks a year ago were tackles. I expect there will be another run on tackles early in this draft.

The Lions have several needs — a linebacker who has the ability to get to the quarterback; a cornerback, especially if Chris Houston fails to bounce back from injury; a safety to back up Glover Quinn and James Ihedigbo; a No. 3 receiver to complement Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate; and an offensive lineman, since guard Rob Sims has reportedly been battling injuries, too.

Obviously, the health of players like Houston and Sims will factor into Detroit's draft day decisions.

The strength of this draft is the depth at wide receiver. For that reason, I think the Lions pick a receiver later in the draft. I also think the Lions could get help on the offensive line in the next round or two.

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