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2014 NFL Draft

The 2014 NFL Draft is officially underway and to start it off the Detroit Lions surprised just about everyone when they decided to select tight end Eric Ebron of North Carolina with the 10th pick in the draft.

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Now this isn’t a horrible pick but I’m not sold that this is great pick either. If anything, I would call this an interesting pick.

Ebron is arguably the best tight end in the 2014 NFL Draft. When you talk about Ebron, you’re talking about a smooth, athletic receiver. He has good hands and is capable of making plays in the red-zone or in the open field. When he’s the open field, he has the good ability to accelerate up the field and use his speed to make plays but he also has good agility to make defenders miss. As a blocker, he is known to be very physical and tough.

Overall, he is a versatile tight end who has great size and length to create multiple mismatches in coverage. He still needs to develop his technique and work on his route running but he is a stud.

My problem with this pick is the fact that the Lions didn’t need a Eric Ebron. Let’s not forget the fact that the Lions agreed to four-year, $16 million contract extension with tight end Brandon Pettigrew earlier in the off-season. Now, I never agreed with re-signing of Pettigrew because I felt the Lions didn’t need him, but for some reason the Lions felt they did need him and now the Lions are in a position where they must figure out how to utilize tight end Joseph Fauria, Ebron and Pettigrew. My concern with this three tight end situation is the fact that two negatives could take place. Since the Lions took Ebron with the 10th pick, I have no doubt they plan to use him immediately. The question is who is going to be their next go-to-guy at tight end, will it be Fauria or Pettigrew? If it’s Fauria, there is a possibility that Pettigrew could be phased out more and more, which I have no problem with but the downside would be the $16 million dollars we wasted on him. I mean come on, who wants to pay $16 million dollars to a guy you consider to be your third-string tight end. If the Lions go the other way around and use Pettigrew and phase Fauria out, I will feel like the Lions aren’t developing Fauria adequately and I don’t know about you but I think Fauria is a young tight end, who has the potential to be developed  into an all-around tight end but if the Lions don’t work with him and use him properly, he will slowly slide down the roster or we will trade him.

I said this before and I will say it again, I understand that the Lions want to add more fire power to their offense, but they could have done that without drafting Ebron with the 10th pick. This NFL Draft is full of depth at wide receiver and tight end, so there would have been plenty of good and talented  receivers available for the Lions to draft in the later round. Perfect examples are players like Allen Robinson of Penn State, Cody Latimer of Indiana, Devin Street of Pittsburgh, Jordan Matthews of Vanderbilt, Paul Richardson of Colorado or even Jeremy Gallon of Michigan and that’s just to name a few.

I wanted the Lions to pick a corner-back, I felt it was more of need for the Lions and I wanted them to use the 10th pick to acquire that elite corner-back. I know Justin Gilbert wasn’t available but corner-back Darqueze Dennard was and honestly feel we should have picked him. Dennard was one of college football’s best corners. He won the Jim Thorpe award this year which represents the best corner-back in college football. He’s represents the type of corner that the Lions want and need. He is someone who can be left out on an island and operate with no help. He has good instincts and awareness at all times. He’s a consistent tackler who makes the point to wrap up and finish tackles both in the pass and run game. Probably the most underrated part of his game is his ability to help slow down the run. Overall, he is a ready to play type of corner-back which is what I believe the Lions need.

Now, the Lions are in position where they have no choice but to go find a corner-back in the second round or third round and fortunately for the Lions, they still have a chance to go get a solid corner-back in the draft because just like this year’s receiver class, this year’s corner-back class has good depth.

If you’re looking for options to consider for the Lions, quite a few players come to mind. Lamarcus Joyner of Florida State is a good option for the Lions to consider, if he does indeed drop to the second round or third round. Floyner is what I consider to be hybrid defender who can move around from slot corner to safety. Another option to consider is Stanley Jean-Baptiste of Nebraska, who has good size and ball skills. If you’re looking for an underdog selection for the Lions to consider, look for out for corner-back Pierre Desir of Lindenwood, when it comes to Desir, you’re talking about an intriguing corner with good athleticism and ball-skills. Then you add that with his good run support and overall physicality and you have someone who could emerge as the Lions’s top corner.

Drafting Ebron has its negatives and it’s positives but one thing’s for sure, the Lions are definitely challenging Stafford to step up. At this point, there is no reason for him to fail, he has arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL with Calvin Johnson and you add that with acquisitions of wide receiver Golden Tate and now Ebron. I think this will be the season, we really find out if the Lions can count on Stafford as their true franchise quarterback.

In conclusion, I think it is too early to say the Lions made a horrible decision by drafting Ebron instead of corner-back. What will determine the Lions success, is what they do in the later rounds of this year’s draft.  I said this before and I will say it again, if the Lions have the right type of staff that knows how to scout and select talent, then the Lions should be able find and select who they want and need in the first round of this draft just like they can find and select who they want and need in the sixth and seventh rounds of this draft.”

Since the Lions have a new staff as well as new head coach in Jim Caldwell this year, I am choosing to have a little faith and I am going to watch and evaluate their next few moves because who the Lions select in rounds from 2-7 will determine whether this was a good draft or a horrible draft for the Lions.

Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit

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