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Preliminary Thoughts on the 13th Overall Pick

I am taking a break from my draft research to provide my preliminary thoughts on what the Lions will do with the 13th overall pick in the first round on April 28th.  It’s still far too early to project what player the Lions will pick, especially without knowing the status of the labor situation, but it’s looking very likely that free agency will not occur before the draft.

The majority of teams use free agency to aggressively fill their needs prior to the draft so they aren’t limited in their approach on draft day.  If a team desperately needs a cornerback, but there isn’t a highly rated corner on their draft board when they are on the clock, they face the dilemma of passing up a more talented player to take a position of need.  If teams are unable to fill specific needs prior to the draft, there could be more need based drafting than in normal years.

The Lions have drafted under the best player available strategy under Martin Mayhew and I don’t see that changing no matter what the situation is this season.  Mayhew is concerned with building a long term contender rather than drafting for immediate gratification and short term gains.  It’s good that the front office takes this approach because I don’t see the Lions filling a need position with the 13th pick.

Here are my rankings on the Lions positions of need:

  1. Cornerback (starting caliber)
  2. Outside Linebacker (at least one starting caliber, preferably two)
  3. Wide Receiver (third and fourth receivers)
  4. Guard (either a young developmental player to groom or somebody that can compete with Peterman this year)
  5. Tackle (for depth and eventual repalcement for Backus)
  6. Middle Linebacker (backup)
  7. Defensive End (eventual replacement for Vanden Bosch)
  8. Running Back (backup to Best and Morris)
  9. Safety (backup to Delmas or challenge Spievey and Coleman for starting position)
  10. Defensive Tackle (backup)

Prince Amukamara isn’t expected to be there at 13 and the Lions aren’t high on Jimmy Smith’s chracter, so cornerback is unlikely to be addressed at 13.  Akeem Ayers would be a big reach at 13, so I don’t expect the Lions to go that route either.  The third receiver position and a backup guard aren’t good value for a first round pick, so I don’t see the Lions heading that way.

Tackle is the most likely direction for the Lions because a left tackle is a high value position, there should be good value on the board when the Lions pick and it is a move that secures the long term future and increases depth in the short term.  Jeff Backus is the only healthy proven tackle on the roster as Cherilus recovers from surgery and Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard are still very young.  Adding a rookie would give the Lions protection in case Cherilus isn’t healthy and Fox or Hilliard aren’t ready to start, and also allow them to groom Backus’ replacement.

Moving on the backup middle linebacker, that is another position that isn’t a first round value, so the Lions will address that later.

Defensive end is very low on the Lions need list, but it is another high value position with highly rated players on the board when the Lions pick.   The Lions heavily rotate lineman and Cliff Avril and Vanden Bosch have had health issues so adding depth would help.  The added bonus would come from the Lions adding Vanden Bosch’s replacement a year or two before he has to be replaced, that way the rookie can learn from him and have time to grow before he’s relied on. 

The Lions won’t take another first round running back, especially as a backup.  There isn’t a safety that grades high enough to consider at 13 and a backup defensive tackle isn’t good value at 13 either.

That leaves the Lions most likely to look at a tackle or defensive end at 13 at this stage in the draft process.  The other potential option could be a trade down, which the Lions would probably be interested in.

There are a few players that could spark trade interest from teams drafting behind the Lions.  WR Julio Jones, WR AJ Green, DE JJ Watt, DE Cameron Jordan, and potentially one of the offensive tackles are all players that could be highly coveted by teams a few picks behind the Lions.

Last year there were trades involving the 11th, 12th and 13th picks in the first round.  The 49ers traded up for a tackle, the Chargers traded up for a running back and the Eagles traded up for a defensive end.

St. Louis, Miami and Jacksonville could all be in the market for a wide receiver.  Miami, Jacksonville, New England, San Diego and Tampa Bay could be in the market for a defensive end and New England and the Giants could be interested in a tackle.

Now Miami, Jacksonville and San Diego have all made big trades involving multiple picks in the last few years, so they may be hesitant to deal more this year.  New England traditionally doesn’t trade up, but they have 6 picks in the first 3 rounds this year giving them more trade ammo than any team in recent memory.  The Giants and Tampa Bay aren’t typically big movers in the first round, but they do have big needs at high value positions.

At this point, I’d say there’s an 80% chance of the Lions going tackle or defensive end, 15% chance of trading down and 5% chance that Amukamara drops to them at 13.  Of course, we’re still over a month out so all of this could change at any time, but that’s the way it’s looking as of today.

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3 Responses to “Preliminary Thoughts on the 13th Overall Pick”

  1. Todd Tennis says:

    It’s interesting that no one is talking about the possibility of the Lions trading up, rather than down. Lions fans are so used to having huge holes to fill that he idea of sacrificing quantity of picks for quality doesn’t enter our minds (oh, and the fact that we have often had a top 10 pick in recent years affects that too).

    It would be hugely controversial for the Lions to sacrifice a 2nd round pick to trade up. Would someone like Prince Amukamara be worth a 1st and 2nd? Not in my book. But would Patrick Peterson be worth a 1st and 2nd? Tougher call.

    Based on one of the common draft pick value charts, the Lions 13th and 45th overall picks (i.e. 1st and 2nd round picks) are worth a value of 1,600 points. That is equal in value to the number 6 overall pick. Most draft boards have Peterson going in the Top 5, but if he’s available at 6 and the Browns are willing to deal, it’s an intriguing possibility.

  2. Russ Loede says:

    Best Player Available. J.J. Watt? Imagine a defensive line of: Suh, Watt, Vanden Bosch, and Avril! Watt can play both inside and out on the line. If not, hope Prince falls because he’s the real deal.

    Thoughts on Mark Ingram? Easily would be BPA. Not a big need of course, but how can you pass up on him? Ingram-Best combo would be scary good.

    1. Watt
    2. Prince
    3. Ingram

  3. Todd-

    Interesting thought on trading up, but I don’t consider it a likely option. First, without knowing whether or not there will be free agency the Lions only for sure opportunity to add players for the season will be the draft. Since they only have 5 picks and need to fill at least 2 starting positions and preferably three they just can’t afford to give up picks even if it is for a great talent like Peterson.


    Watt isn’t an ideal fit for the Lions 9 technique defensive front, but he fits the mold they want as far as attitide, character and effort. He’s an interesting prospect that I haven’t really gotten my mind wrapped around yet.

    Ingram would be good value, but as I said above, with the Lions needing to fill 3 starting positions (2 OLB and a CB) I don’t think they can afford the luxury of taking another RB in the first round. A defensive end or offensive tackle would be somewhat of a luxury pick, but at high value positions. RB is considered a low value position therefore making it unlikely that they’d go that route.

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