The Detroit Lions did not trade their first-round pick, as I said they must. They stood pat and took mighty Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff, brilliantly named the “Great Barrier Reiff” by Lions Tweeter @crino22.
I said the Lions must trade their first-round pick for two reasons: 1) the players who could provide an immediate upgrade to the starting lineup would come off the board well before No. 23, and 2) the Lions would have quite a few decent options at 23, and therefore should try to trade back.
I wasn’t wrong about 1). Reiff addresses what I thought was the Lions’ most pressing need: a backup for, and heir apparent to, Jeff Backus. He’ll also have the opportunity to back up, push and/or supplant either Stephen Peterman or Gosder Cherilus until his time at left tackle comes. But Reiff doesn’t make the Lions’ starting 22 any better.
Depth and youth and the future are critically important. I pushed for the Lions to draft tackle Nate Solder last season, for this very reason; the Lions couldn’t afford to wait until Backus was irrevocably broken to search for his replacement. But we must understand taking Reiff at this spot means a team trying to win the Super Bowl this season passed up their last, best opportunity to make this season’s team better.
What I was wrong about was 2). It simply did not occur to me that Riley Reiff and David DeCastro would both be sitting there for the Lions at No. 23. I thought both of them would go in the 10-20 range, and closer to 10 than 20. With either of those players on the board, let alone both, trading down would not have been the right move. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report and New Era Scouting had Reiff and DeCastro as his 13th- and 6th-rated prospects, and Miller graded the Lions’ pick of Reiff as an A+.
What has been the fans' reaction? This was the scene at the Lions' official draft party at the Fillmore Theatre:
Appreciation for a pick well picked; excitement for a bright future. Not unbridled exultation, as when the Lions drafted Ndamukong Suh. Not the dawning of a glorious new era in Lions football. Just a good football player who addresses a great need coming at a fantastic value spot.
Now, the second and third rounds: Draftsmas Eve all over again. Will the Lions trade up? Trade back? Stand pat? Draft one of the risky corners? All the same questions, ready to be answered again. Tonight is the last chance the Lions have to add impact talent to this season’s roster without giving something up . . . will they take it?