Traverse City Record-Eagle

Sports Columnists

April 21, 2014

Dennis Chase: Lions should take guesswork out of draft

Well, the Detroit Lions know how to keep us engaged in the off-season.

With the NFL draft approaching, Detroit’s been teasing its long-suffering fan base by bringing in defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, receiver Sammy Watkins and outside linebacker Khalil Mack for meet-and-greets.

Of course, every mock draft out there predicts Clowney, Watkins and Mack will be long gone by the time the Lions select with the 10th pick in the first round.

That’s fueled speculation the Lions might be willing to trade up to acquire one of those three talents.

Here’s my take: If Watkins or Mack is still there at No. 5, see if Oakland would be willing to make a deal. That might be Detroit’s best option.

Clowney is almost a lock to go within the first three picks — and the cost to move up that high would be pricey. There’s been talk Oakland might be willing to slide down, a pick that could cost the Lions a No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4. It seems like a lot to pay on paper, but there’s a reason Watkins and Mack are considered top-five talents. They are among a select few — Lions’ GM Martin Mayhew says there are seven — can’t miss prospects in this draft.

Several mocks have Detroit taking Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr or Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans at No. 10. I don’t think the Lions take a cornerback. And I think there’s a possibility Barr and Evans could be gone by then.

I can see why the Lions seem to be infatuated with Watkins. It would give quarterback Matt Stafford another playmaker — and provide insurance in case of an injury to Calvin Johnson. Let’s face it, when Johnson’s banged up and not in the lineup, the offense usually grinds to a halt.

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