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Lions Fans Need to Get Used to Drafting for the Long Term

Draft season is picking up steam and in a break from the norm, the Lions are outside the top 10 picks.  This has quelled a lot of the Player A vs. Player B debate amongst fans, but in its place are debates over Position A and Position B.  After hearing the debate on talk radio, message boards, Twitter and talking to fans I felt it’d be best to get this message out to Lions fans as a whole.  The Lions now draft for the long term good of the team.

A certain population of the Lions fan base wants the Lions to draft a cornerback or linebacker regardless of positional value with the 13th overall pick because it fills an immediate need and makes the team better now.  To those fans, be prepared to be disappointed unless Amukamara falls to the Lions they are most likely not addressing either of those positions at 13.

The most polarizing draft pick in the Mayhew Era has been Brandon Pettigrew, who much to many fans chagrin, was chosen over Michael Oher and Rey Maualuga in 2009.  Pettigrew was banged up in training camp, fell behind the learning curve, made minimal impact and suffered a season ending injury.  Michael Oher became a household name mostly due to the success of The Blind Side a movie about Oher’s life.  Rubbing more salt in the wounds, Maualuga played a large role for the division champion Bengals in 2009.

Fans were furious that the Lions passed on two immediate impact players at positions of need for a slow tight end who was known mostly for his blocking.

The 2010 season told a much different story as Michael Oher struggled at left tackle for the Ravens and enters the 2011 offseason with talk of moving to right tackle.  Rey Maualuga had an average season and the Bengals defense regressed after the offensive philosophy switched from power running to air it out.  Meanwhile, Pettigrew put up upper echelon numbers at the tight end position and combined with Tony Scheffler to form the league’s best tight end duo.

Pettigrew wasn’t an immediate impact player, he wasn’t a need pick and he definitely wasn’t a popular pick.  He was however, the best pick for the long term success of the team.  Oher is not a lock down franchise left tackle, best case scenario he’s an average to above average left tackle.  The Lions have one of those in Jeff Backus.  Maualuga is a two down linebacker that struggles in coverage.  The Lions bypassed taking a two down linebacker to draft another unpopular pick at the time, DeAndre Levy, who had the speed and instincts to play all three positions on all three downs.

Mayhew and Schwartz both share the same philosophy, which is draft for the long term good of the team.  They won’t reach for a corner or a linebacker and more than likely they will be drafting a left tackle for the future or a defensive end for the future at 13.  With the early returns on their first two draft classes, I’d tell Lions fans to be alright with that

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