Craig Remsburg column: Lions may have made bad pick
It defies logic. But nothing the Detroit Lions do – or fail to do – surprises me anymore.
The Lions stunned a lot of observers by selecting tight end Eric Ebron of North Carolina with their No. 1 pick – and the No. 10 selection overall – in the NFL draft.
The team has a pressing need to upgrade its porous defense, especially in the secondary despite signing free agent safety James Ihedigo during the offseason.
But does Lions general manager Martin Mayhew address that need by selecting a cornerback or a safety? N-o-o-o.
He goes out and picks what he said later was the most talented player on the board when it came time for the Lions to make their choice.
The team re-signed veteran TE Brandon Pettigrew and also has Joseph Fauria for depth at the position, both serviceable players.
Drafting Ebron No. 1 just doesn’t make sense, especially since there were six defensive backs selected after the Lions’ pick.
The Chicago Bears took Kyle Fuller of Virginia Tech at No. 14 and the Green Bay Packers selected Ha Ha Clinton Dix at No. 21 – two North Division rivals who upgraded their defenses with DBs.
And Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard was gobbled up by the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 24, another DB who could have helped the Lions.
Detroit did draft a cornerback, Nevin Lawson of Utah State in the FOURTH round. But he’s 5-10 and the level of competition he faced is suspect.
Mayhew and his staff say Ebron, a 6-foot-4, 250-pounder, is a “match-up nightmare” who will stretch opposing defenses and give quarterback Matthew Stafford another option to throw to.
Maybe that’s what this is all about. Maybe the Lions figure Stafford – their most expensive player – needs all the help they can give him to become the elite QB they think he can be.
Thus, they pick Ebron after signing free agent receiver Golden Tate.
No matter that Ebron is reputed to be a poor blocker and may see limited playing time when the Lions need to gain some crucial yardage on the ground.
He may prove everyone wrong. Ebron may be able to block better than most think.
He might also be a key weapon in the Lions’ offense, giving Calvin “Megatron” Johnson more room to maneuver against defenses that might not be able to double-team him as much with Tate and Ebron on the field, not to mention running back Reggie Bush.
But if the Lions can’t stop anyone on defense, they might not be able to improve on the 7-9 record they forged a year ago, no matter how potent the offense might be.
Just ask Denver’s Peyton Manning how a good defense can stop a good offense.
Mayhew and his staff may have made a colossal mistake here.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.