Thursday, April 16, 2015

Detroit Lions, NFL Draft, need for a running back and what they should do

By far the best running back in this NFL Draft, and the top talent at the position in several years, is Todd Gurley from Georgia. The comparisons to Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson are not an exaggeration.
But his knee injury (ACL), suffered late last season, should keep the Lions from drafting him. They need a fast running back after finishing near the bottom of the NFL in rushing last year, even with defenses loading up to stop their passing attack, and displaying light boxes up front literally daring the Lions to run the ball.
But Gurley's progress is unknown, and will still largely be even after a scheduled evaluation by teams this week in Indianapolis (he wasn't examined at the combine).
La'el Collins
This is known: Gurley is going to be, at best, limited for the off season program and likely training camp. His impact, which could be extreme, is likely to come down the road. The Lions need to win now. They can't afford to wait, and even if Gurley is there at 23rd overall, it doesn't make sense to take him. Ideally, the Lions get a third-wheel for a three-back system with Joique Bell and Theo Riddick.

Duke Johnson
An ideal back to combat what defenses are doing against the Lions appears to be Duke Johnson from Miami. He has good breakaway speed. He ran a 4.51 40 at the combine. He isn't a top inside runner, but the Lions have Bell to do that. Johnson's initial burst is what separates him. They need a back more threatening in space than Bell and Riddick to gash the creases that are naturally wide with the five- and six-man fronts they see. Johnson is the best fit for the Lions in that regard in a what is a deep draft for running backs. What the Lions don't necessarily need to do is stretch for a classic three-down running back.
In the first round, the best way for the Lions to fill their needs and aid their running attack would be to draft LSU offensive lineman La'el Collins. Not only does he project as a long-term starter with a good upside, but he is advanced enough to start immediately at right tackle or inside at guard.
I wrote after the Senior Bowl that I felt Collins was the ideal fit for the Lions in the first-round. I still do with the draft just a little more than two weeks away.

My column. A case for the Red Wings stunning Tampa Bay in the Stanley Cup playoffs:


Blogger Barry said...

Pat, I wish you were drafting for the Lions this year. I think and maybe scouts have written this but you might get a decent DT in the second round. I would not be disappointed with a RB in 2 round. I have a Tackle pegged at 23 too. I was going with Peat if Collins is not there.

9:05 PM 

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