After carrying the first- and second-overall draft picks in Jim Schwartz’s first two years, the Detroit Lions are looking at a very different situation at the outset of the NFL Scouting Combine.
A four-game win streak to close out the regular season dropped Detroit to 13 in the first round.
Obviously, that makes first-round scenarios a bit more complex when it comes to predicting which players will be available.
The solution is not to predict, but to prepare.
“Martin Mayhew and his staff prepare for a lot of different situations and scenarios,” said Schwartz.
“Even when we were drafting at two, we were prepared for scenarios. Say somebody blows us out of the water and we move down, how is that going to shake out? You have to be ready for those (possibilities).”
Things looked a lot different last year when the Lions held the second-overall selection.
Defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy were at the forefront of media coverage and the Lions were interested in both. With the second pick, Detroit was guaranteed one or the other.
At 13, predictability is out the window.
“We’ll still evaluate players that we think are maybe the No. 1 or No. 2 player in the draft,” said Schwartz.
“You don’t ignore those guys just because you’re picking 13. You still want to find players that fit your scheme and fit your philosophy and fit the job description of what you’re going to ask them to do.”
Positions Schwartz was asked about on Thursday included offensive line, linebacker and defensive back.
“Just starting at the Senior Bowl, there’s some impressive talent on the offensive line,” he said. “Not just at tackle, but interior players. (There are) a couple of guards and centers that look like they’ll have bright futures.”
They key on defense is versatility. Players who have a niche can be easily exploited.
“You (may) have a guy who’s not a good pass-defender, he’s a really good run-defender,” said Schwartz. “But you can’t choose whether the opponent offense is going to run or pass.”
Offensive coordinators can dictate match-ups to take advantage specific weaknesses, so bringing in players who can handle different situations is essential.
“We’re not a 3-4 team,” said Schwartz in regards to evaluating linebackers. “We like players that are multi-dimensional.”
Detroit already added to its back seven earlier this week, signing eighth-year defensive back Erik Coleman.
Coleman has spent his previous three seasons in Atlanta.
“I think physically he fits what we’re looking for,” said Schwartz. “He also has starting experience. I think that’s important.”
Schwartz says the Lions are looking for more development out of Amari Spievey, who moved from corner to safety in the midst of his rookie season.
“He did some things very, very well as a rookie,” said Schwartz. “Other things he played like a rookie.”
Coleman has only played seven seasons and the experience can help Detroit.
“He got hurt in the opener and then when he came back healthy, they had gone to their younger player,” said Schwartz. “That guy, I guess, had played pretty well. I thought (Coleman) played well in the opener.
“He was available (and) he fit the job description of what we were looking for.”
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