The Detroit Lions ended last season with a 10-6 record and made the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 1999 with a very young roster.
Although the Lions had a good season, they struggled at the end of the year on pass defense, yielding 480 yards and six touchdowns to Green Bay’s backup quarterback Matt Flynn in the regular season finale, and 466 yards and three touchdowns to Drew Brees in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
With all those yards and touchdowns being given up by the Lions’ pass defense, the first-round pick (23rd overall) in the 2012 NFL draft should be used on a cornerback, right?
Unfortunately, that’s wrong. The Lions do need to find a good corner this offseason, but the offensive line has age and injury concerns this upcoming season.
Starting left tackle Jeff Backus has taken plenty of criticism for his play, but he has had a solid career and hasn’t missed a start since he was drafted back in 2001.
Backus will be 35 in September, and he tore his biceps in the playoff game against the Saints so there is much question as to how much longer he can play. Although he was just re-signed to a 2-year contract extension, the time to find his replacement is now.
There are also plenty of questions as to how bad the Lions’ running game will be and the source is the interior offensive line.
Center Dominic Raiola and right guard Stephen Peterman have been ineffective on the offensive line the last two years, and their ineffectiveness has caused the running game to be absent from the Lions’ offense.
Also, running back Jahvid Best has been questionable with his health and the concussions he has suffered.
However, every time Best takes a carry, it is like hitting a wall because of futile run blocking. So, interior line also needs an upgrade.
There is also a need at linebacker, but the need is not as dire as offensive line or corner.
With that being said, there are many options the Lions can look at with the 23rd pick on April 26. Many of the top cornerbacks in the draft have seen their draft stock skyrocket because of the league consensus need for corners in the new era of being a “passing league.”
Many experts still see the Lions drafting South Carolina corner Stephon Gilmore or trading up in the first round for Alabama corner Dre Kirkpatrick.
Other experts believe the Lions will stay still and select Stanford left tackle Jonathan Martin, Ohio State left tackle Mike Adams or Wisconsin center Peter Konz.
Any of those lineman would be great fits for the Lions and would keep pushing the Lions forward as a franchise.
The tackles might not start right away so they can learn the position, but they could start at right tackle to give them some playing experience.
I believe with the 23rd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions will select left tackle Jonathan Martin out of Stanford.
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