The first round of the 2011 Draft is still three weeks away and with the labor hearing beginning tomorrow, a lot is up in the air right now. I’m going to assume that the labor issues will not be resolved early enough for free agency to occur before the draft.
Three weeks is a lot of time and there are several variables that could alter my rankings, but here is my initial board for the Lions’ 13th overall pick. I have built these rankings based on the Lions’ schemes, the front office’s approach to building the team and my opinion of the best available player that fits those criteria.
- Prince Amukamara, CB Nebraska– Amukamara is the only player that could be available that fills the best player available criteriaand satisfies an immediate need. He is a high character player that fits the Lions’ style and the Lions get an inside look at Prince as a person from former teammate Ndamukong Suh.
- Tyron Smith, T USC – Smith offers immediate depth and fills a massive need for the future. The Lions have immediate questions surrounding the right tackle position and future concerns about the left tackle position. Smith potentially fills both needs as well as qualifies as one of the best players available at 13. Smith has elite athleticism for a left tackle, but he has limited experience playing there as he was a right tackle in college. There have been some negative comments coming out about him recently, but I view those as smoke screens from teams hoping he’ll slide to them. Heck, the Lions might even be the source of some of those comments.
- Aldon Smith, DE Mizzou – There are three premier value positions in the NFL, quarterback, left tackle and pass rusher. The Lions presently have all three filled, but other than quarterback none are filled long term. Aldon Smith is young, but extremely talented and he would benefit from being a rotational end while learning from Kyle Vanden Bosch for a year or two. The Lions’ defense will always live and die by the pass rush, so they can’t wait until KVB retires to find his replacement. Smith will have a role in the present as the Lions heavily rotate defensive lineman so he’d probably see 15 snaps a game and be the primary backup defensive end.
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