12th Man Report: Lions’ loss improves draft prospects
With the conclusion of the 2013 NFL regular season, the first 20 spots in the 2014 draft have now been decided. The Lions, who are all too familiar with a pick inside the top 10, again, find themselves one of the lucky (though actually unlucky) teams with an early pick.
Coming into this past Sunday’s season finale against the Minnesota Vikings at 7-8, the Lions didn’t seem too likely to finish in the league’s bottom-ten teams. But after surprising wins from the New York Giants and Tennessee Titans, they’ll again have a top-10 pick — more precisely, No. 10.
Here’s a statistic for you: this will be the 10th time in 13 seasons that the Lions have had a pick in the top 10 (ironically, it’s No. 10). Having that many high selections is kind of a double-edged sword. Sure, it’s nice to have the opportunity to draft elite players, but it comes at the cost of never being in the playoffs.
Some people thought the Lions should purposely lose Sunday’s game at Minnesota in order to get the best spot in the draft possible since they were no longer in playoff contention. Ultimately, Detroit was either playing for pride or draft order. While it doesn’t appear that the 14-13 loss came on purpose, the Lions inability to finish a game with a fourth-quarter lead proved to have same affect.
During the Matt Millen era, the Lions’ normally high-draft selection turned out to be much more of a frustration. Whether it was first-round flops the likes of Charles Rodgers, Mike Williams and Joey Harrington, bad selections were way too common — barring Calvin Johnson. However, it would seem that new general manager Martin Mayhew has a much stronger track record with the draft, even in his short time in Detroit. Regardless of who’s doing the drafting, with a pick in the top 10, the Lions have the ability to draft a game-changing type of player. It’s just a matter of not blowing it.