As the Detroit Lions approach the upcoming draft, it really bums me out that vanity and thin skin will likely prevent them from selecting the best player available.
I'm no Mel Kiper (thank heavens) however with the second pick there is a distinct possibility the Lions will have the option to select Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson. Yeah, yeah it all depends on the Raiders and the wild card that is Al Davis.
However the current consensus is they either stay at #2 or move down, therefore potentially creating an opportunity to get more picks in higher rounds (1st and 2nd).
Now I get the Lions have multiple holes to fill. Quantity versus quality may be an appropriate strategy. However I feel the motivation maybe less logical and more psychological.
The dilemma seems to be that due to past misfortune/stupidity the Lions (read: Matt Millen, of "Fire Millen" fame) will be unwilling to do the best thing for the team now based on events that have happened in the past.
In reality, the timing and personnel have nothing to do with each other. What is common is that Matt Millen is likely unwilling to deal with the shitstorm that would develop if he picked another wide receiver or quarterback with a high draft position, regardless of how "can't miss" he is. That is a damn shame.
Let's be realistic, the perennially negative Detroit Lions football culture (team, fans and media are all part of this culture) will find fault regardless of the selection. So my feeling is that this notion, one of limiting the amount of flack generated -- is disproportionately going to influence the draft decision and therefore increase the likelihood of failure.
As I see it, in order of risk, the Lions cannot pick due to the volume of negative media/fan reaction:
1. A wide receiver. (see: Charles Rogers, Mike Williams, Roy Williams (even though he is good)
2. A quarterback (see: Joey Harrington, Andre Ware and to a lesser extent, Chuck Long)
3. An offensive lineman, from Wisconsin, at left tackle (see: Aaron Gibson)
My guess is that the lesser of these "evils" is #3. Therefore if they remain with the second pick they will go with Joe Thomas. "Yes" they have the need, but "yes" it is one that will draw the least amount of criticism. The left tackle position is less high-profile and a more rational (therefore) defensible when dealing with the press (and therefore) fans.
It boggles my mind that the media and fans literally relate unrelated items as if they are an "if/then" scenario.
"If" the Lions pick another wide receiver in the first round "then" he runs the risk of being like Charles Rogers.
Aside from playing the same position in college, they literally are unrelated. So why predicate possible future success on the failings of past individuals? It makes no logical sense. Different coaches, different systems and most importantly -- they are different people.
What we as fans rely on the Lions front office doing is identifying work ethic and the willingness of the kid to be coached. We rely on the front office to assess the individual's fit and potential and talent to help the team. If Calvin Johnson is viewed as too risky from a talent/prone to injury/character perspective - then don't pick him. If the need to select an offensive lineman is viewed as a greater need than QB or WR based on talent available - then do it.
Don't make the decision because you are afraid of the press or having to deal with those at the wwl (Mel Kiper, YWML) or Freep or Det News asking ".....now Matt, this is the 4th wide receiver you have picked in 5 years in the first round, can you tell me why?"
Be a leader and get us the best players...regardless of the flack.