In the midst of a far-from-typical NFL offseason, General Manager Martin Mayhew explained Thursday that he has made the most of having less to do.
With labor talks currently ongoing, the league’s typical free agent signing period hasn’t taken place, which has freed up more time for Mayhew to work toward the upcoming draft.
“I’ve been excited about being able to just focus on this process,” he said.
Mayhew says it has been an awkward work environment because he is used to seeing players in the building beginning mid-March.
At the same time he has had tunnel vision when it comes to working toward next week’s NFL Draft in which the Lions hold six picks, including the 13th-overall selection.
“If you go back to 2009 I think we started off with eight (and) ended up with 10,” said Mayhew. “Last year we started off with eight, ended up with six. We have six now.
“I don’t know if we’ll end up with more or less than that, but I think it’s a safe bet that we probably won’t have the same six when it’s all said and done.”
The most attention externally is on having the 13th-overall selection, which is drastically different than having one of the first two picks.
The goal is to pick a starting-caliber player at 13, though the process isn’t as cut-and-dry as picking at one or two.
“There’s some debate over players,” said Mayhew. “I think you have a lot more study, a lot more time, a lot more emphasis on character on or off the field, a guy’s presence in the locker room – all of those things than at 13.
“It’s a critical debate, but you have to have more options open.”
With the players unable to report to the team’s practice facility until an agreement is reached between the NFL and players, anotherfactor to consider when drafting is how well players will do with little preparation prior to the season.
If an agreement isn’t reached before or soon following the draft, it could impact playbook study, mini-camps and position meetings.
“You’ve got to weigh the players with whom you feel very comfortable with not seeing for some period of time and the players whom you don’t feel comfortable with in that situation,” said Mayhew.
“Whether it’s character issues, weight issues, learning issues – (the potential time away) certainly is a factor.”
The immediate impact of drafted players will be considered, but Mayhew is clear about his ultimate objective.
“We’re drafting for the future of the franchise,” he said. “We don’t view the draft as a finish line; we’re not going to get done with the draft and say, ‘Hey, we’re all good.’
“(But we do) know going into this process that when we get done we’re going to be a better football team. (We) have an opportunity to address whatever objective we want to address. It’s really an exciting time for us as an organization.”
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