By Dana Finkler
Collegiate Staff Writer
Playoffs? Yeah, I’m talking playoffs! The Detroit Lions made the playoffs this past season, the first time in nearly a decade.
I have not seen this much excitement for the Lions since my senior year of high school in journalism when our teacher Mr. Roark made the entire class watch the Rod Marinelli press conference and write a review.
“We’re practicing in pads man,” echoed Roark, as tears of joy streamed down his face.
This past off-season, The Lions didn’t make any big splashes in free agency mainly focusing on re-signing their own players. The Lions re-signed wide-receiver Calvin Johnson to the largest contract in NFL history, $132 million dollars and a seven-year extension. They also re-signed middle linebacker Stephan Tulloch and quarterback Shaun Hill. Tulloch is a great talent and Hill is a proven back-up.
Despite all the great news this off-season it hasn’t been all peaches and cream. The Lions top draft picks in the past two seasons, defensive tackle Nick Fairly and running back Mikel Leshoure were busted for marijuana possession this off-season.
Both Fairly and Leshoure have struggled to stay healthy and out of trouble in their young careers. Hopefully they can realize the opportunity they have and make the proper changes to make them successful.
The Lions hold the 23rd overall selection in the first round of this year’s draft. The Lions have stuck to the strategy of taking the “best player available” and I don’t see them straying from that this year. The team has needs at cornerback and offensive line. I could see them attempting to trade their entire draft to move up to get cornerback Morris Claiborne from LSU, but ultimately I believe the asking price will be too high. The Lions attempted to do the same thing last season in hopes of selecting Patrick Peterson, but the Arizona Cardinals would not bite.
I have high expectations for the Lions this season. I believe they will make a legit run in the playoffs, as far as playing in the NFC championship. I think it will come down to the Lions and the San Francisco 49ers to determine who will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
1st Round – Cornerback Dre’ Kirkpatrick, Alabama or tackle Mike Adams, Ohio State – I’m not sold on Kirkpatrick. He has off the field issues, but they have a glaring need. I could see them possibly selecting an offensive lineman with this pick.
2nd Round –Linebacker LaVonte David, Nebraska or Linebacker Bobby Wagner, Utah. Both players are physical linebackers and would make a great addition to the line-backing core in Detroit.
3rd Round – Cornerback/Saftey – Trumaine Johnson, Montana. Can play both corner and safety, a safe and possible steal for the Lions.
4th Round – Center David Molk, Michigan. – Every season the Lions have a big run or big screen play and it’s always called back on a holding or clipping penality on center Domick Raolia. Molk was impressive at the NFL scouting combine and would be a great addition to an aging offensive line.
The Lions also have a fifth round pick and two seventh round picks. I believe they will package the picks to move up in the draft or possibly use them to make a trade for a veteran cornerback – hopefully Asante Samuel who plays for the Eagles and is on the trading block.