The Lions have traded a fifth-round pick, plus reserve-roster DE Robert Henderson, to the Seahawks for LG Rob Sims and a seventh-round pick. The acquisition of Sims, a 26-year-old left guard with three seasons atop the Seahawks’ depth chart, for a fifth-rounder would have qualified as a steal. Getting a seventh-round pick in return for Henderson, himself a 2008 sixth-rounder who’s never made an active roster, is gravy.
As I wrote last week, the Seahawks were willing to deal Sims so cheaply for two reasons: One, he’s a poor fit for new Seahawks OL coach Alex Gibbs’ zone blocking system; two, he’s a restricted free agent on a one-year tender, who will walk after this season without a long-term deal.
That brings us to the draft. On first blush, this eliminates Russell Okung as a possibility for the Lions—with well-compensated starters at LT, LG, C, RG, and RT, paying Okung $40,000,000 to either ride the bench, or relegate one of those starters to the bench, makes no sense whatsoever.
However, Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com thinks Martin Mayhew's about to make no sense. Since Sims has signed his RFA tender, by definition a one-year deal, the Lions have nothing invested in him but a fifth-round pick. If they don’t sign him to a long term extension before the draft, then Okung can sit on the bench for one year, and then force Backus to slide inside for 2011.
Kowalski correctly points out, as I have over the past few months, that the Lions are drafting for the long-term; the 2009 and 2010 draft classes will become the core of the team for 2011 and beyond:
But drafting a player with a #2 overall pick? That’s a massive investment. If the Lions stand pat and draft Okung—or Suh, or Berry, or whoever—then that player must be a cornerstone of the roster for years to come. If the Lions are convinced that one of those players is going to be a perfect fit for the team, on and off the field, with Hall of Fame upside . . . well, they’re going to take him, Chester Pitts be damned.
Now, Sims is not Pitts--he's much younger, just entering his prime. But if Sims isn’t extended before the draft, then there’s no reason to believe he’s going to be here in 2011, and therefore no reason to believe the Lions won’t draft an offensive tackle.
Still, I think the Lions don’t draft Okung at 1.2. I don’t think he’s the right type of player for what Scott Linehan wants to do on offense, and I don’t think that the Lions want to spend that much money into three offensive tackles—or really, spend 1.2 money at all. I think they want to trade back, and take a tackle who’s a better fit, like Oklahoma’s Trent Williams, or Iowa’s Bryan Bulaga.
Not only would one of these players be a better fit for the Lions, but if they were drafted at, say, Seattle's 1.6 spot, they'd cost practically half the price that Okung at 1.2 would. Seattle, as we know, is desperate to replace aging LT Walter Jones, and could certainly use an upgrade at RT as well. Seattle’s clearly not afraid to spend money to reshape their franchise in new HC Pete Carroll’s image, and they’re clearly not afraid to make deals with Martin Mayhew and the Lions.