In Mel Kiper Jr’s latest mock draft he had the Detroit Lions selecting Texas running back Bijan Robinson with the 18th pick.
“Robinson is a luxury pick, but the Lions really don’t have that many needs. They can afford a luxury selection here,” Kiper wrote.
In the short term, he’s kind of right. The Lions have done a good job of bolstering their defense for next season with the signings of CJ Gardner-Johnson, Emmanuel Moseley, and Cam Sutton.
They also didn’t get any worse by replacing Jamaal Williams with David Montgomery.
Most other position groups are expected to improve with internal development from young players.
But the draft isn’t viewed as a short-term solution. You build organizational depth through the draft and the first round is not excluded from that.
Gardner-Johnson and Moseley should help a poor defensive back group improve. But both are only signed for next season. What happens after that is anyone’s guess.
So, while there isn’t an immediate need at defensive back. There likely will be one next year.
Linebacker is another group that looks bleak long-term. Malcom Rodriguez looks the part, and Derrick Barnes has shown flashes. But outside of that who on the roster do you like 3-5 years down the road?
So we can agree that’s another position group the Detroit Lions could improve at right? Well, that makes two.
The point is the Lions are not in such a luxurious position as Kiper claims. They are better off than a lot of other teams in terms of immediate need. But the long-term outlook isn’t as stable.
On top of the two players listed above, Romeo Okwara could be out after next year. What if James Houston has another year and wants a monster raise? Not to mention none of us have a clue what is going to happen at tight end.
It would be in the Lions best interest to use both first round picks on other positions that would be more valuable than a running back.
Great RBs Don’t Win You Rings
Having a great running back is nice but it’s not a necessity to win championships. Isiah Pacheco was Kansas City’s leading rusher last season. He was a seventh round pick. Mahomes was their second leading rusher.
The previous year’s Super Bowl winners were led on the ground by Sony Michel. What team is he on now? In 2020, the Buccaneers’ leading rusher was Ronald Jones. He’s on his third different team since that season now.
Let’s keep this going. The last three running backs taken in the first round are Najee Harris, Travis Etienne and Clyde Edwards-Helare.
Harris isn’t carrying the Steelers anywhere and Edwards-Helare had his job taken by a seventh rounder. So why should the Lions take a running back in the first round again?
If the Detroit Lions had more long-term answers on defense, I would be more ok with taking a running back at No. 18. But looking at the roster and who is likely to be on it in a few years I’m not comfortable with using a luxury pick in the first round.
I know it’s been a while, but the goal isn’t to win only one playoff game. It’s to have sustained success in the playoffs leading to a Super Bowl.
For more from the author Jeramy Stover, check him out on Twitter here: @jstover96
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