- Don't trade up. Sammy Watkins and Khalil Mack are terrific prospects, and certainly have a chance to be Pro Bowl-caliber players, or better, but neither is an absolute sure-thing star. Mack, in particular, has been overvalued. He could be another Aaron Curry, and I'm not so sure if a couple other linebackers in this draft aren't better, Anthony Barr from UCLA and Ohio State's Ryan Shazier. The Lions can't afford to lose draft picks. They have a star caliber wide receiver in Calvin Johnson and first-round draft picks opposing offenses much account for already on their defensive front (Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Ziggy Ansah). There is no need to reach.
What they are lacking is a stellar back seven defensively, and depth. The NFL Draft is about more than the first round. The Lions' failures in the past have come from doing poorly with their picks beyond the first round.
- It should be simple. When the 10th overall pick comes up, the Lions should select the best defensive back or linebacker available. The only exception would be if they deem North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron as exceptional, because he could bring a specific ability the Lions are lacking to really put them over the top offensively. And then, the rest of the first two days of the draft should be focused on the back seven defensively for the Lions. That means Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert, Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard and Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton Dix should very much be in play at 10th overall. I don't understand why Barr's draft stock allegedly has dropped. He is an outstanding prospect, who played for an NFL defensive coach, Jim Mora, at UCLA and was very productive.
A bad sign would be if the Lions took Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald or any offensive lineman at 10 overall. It would mean they are still playing for tomorrow instead of today, like they are still rebuilding from an 0-16 season. The window of opportunity may be closing having Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh all together in their prime. The Lions' best course of action is to do all they can to run through it this year.
- Two players projected to go later than 10th overall and seemingly not in play at 10th overall, who are better than the players reported in these mock drafts to go that high at their respective positions, are TCU cornerback Jason Verrett and Washington State safety Deone Bucannon. If the Lions took one of those players at 10 overall, they would get panned, but I think they are going to be better NFL players than those rated ahead of them by the so-called draft gurus.
My column: Time for the Detroit Lions to put up or shut up in NFL Draft: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/20140507/time-for-detroit-lions-to-put-up-or-shut-up-in-nfl-draft-pat-caputo-writes