By DENNIS CHASE, JAMES COOK AND MIKE ECKERT
Dennis Chase: The challenge starts Friday
For Detroit GM Martin Mayhew, the challenge begins Friday.
The Lions, in all likelihood, will draft Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh with the No. 2 pick tonight. That's been all but etched in stone since quarterback Sam Bradford decided to leave Oklahoma a year early.
Friday — rounds 2 and 3 — will define this draft class for Mayhew. That's where a team's scouting prowess comes into play. Detroit has glaring needs at running back, cornerback and linebacker that must be addressed this weekend — or through trade.
Fortunately for Detroit, this is considered a deep draft for defensive players. The Lions allowed 494 points last season, the worst in the NFL. It would not come as a surprise if Mayhew tries to trade down in the second or third rounds to obtain additional picks.
Mayhew did well in his first draft as GM. Can he duplicate it?
James Cook: Beneficial draft already
Before making a selection in the draft, Detroit's already netted four potential starters with picks from this year's process.
Lions GM Martin Mayhew snagged starting guard Rob Sims from Seattle and defensive tackle Corey Williams from Cleveland for fifth-round picks. He grabbed young, speedy cornerback Chris Houston from Atlanta for a sixth-rounder and last year acquired safety Ko Simpson from Buffalo for this year's seventh-round pick.
Sims, Williams and Houston are almost certain to start, while Simpson has a good shot in his position battle against oft-injured Daniel Bullocks.
So if the Lions can manage to snag starters with their first four picks — which isn't a stretch in a loaded draft — the team will have essentially had a haul of eight starting players from one draft, quite an accomplishment.
Then Detroit has four seventh-round picks to take some gambles.
Mike Eckert: Lions can't mess this up
Who was the best draft choice for the Detroit Lions over the last 10 years? After so many flops, busts and misses, that's an easy one.
Calvin Johnson with the second pick in the 2007 draft.
The Johnson pick came to be only because he fell in the Lions' lap. Oakland took quarterback JaMarcus Russell and left the best player in the class available for Detroit.
History should repeat itself today.
If St. Louis does what everyone expects and takes quarterback Sam Bradford, the Lions can't pass up defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Many say he's the best player in the draft and could instantly help what has been the worst defense in the NFL.
Last year, Martin Mayhew's draft strategy was to take the best player available, regardless of position. Follow that strategy again and the Lions' defense will be anchored for years by a boy named "Suh."�