Detroit Lions 2014 Draft Preview

 

The Sports Network

(SportsNetwork.com) - A slight improvement on the field wasn't enough for Jim Schwartz to keep his job in the Motor City largely because his team remained undisciplined, win or lose.

Former Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Caldwell is the new sheriff in town, handed the task of not only cleaning up the now trademarked boneheaded play but also the mechanics to talented but underachieving quarterback Matthew Stafford.

If you really can't teach an old dog new tricks, the clock is ticking on Stafford. Four years into his NFL career, the book on the former No. 1 overall pick hasn't changed. He's an elite talent with mechanical issues, relying on his plus-arm strength to make up for shoddy footwork, poor arm angles and questionable decision-making.

Schwartz made a lot of mistakes in Detroit, but perhaps the most perplexing of all was enabling Stafford's distorted view of his own fundamentals. Caldwell has a history with both Peyton Manning and Joe Flacco so perhaps he has enough cachet to tell Stafford he needs fixing.

Adding a receiving option opposite Calvin Johnson could only help Stafford as would beefing up the offensive line.

That said, the secondary, specifically the cornerback position shapes up as the most-needy right now for the Lions and with the 10th overall pick, Detroit could conceivably have its choice between the two top options, Oklahoma State product Justin Gilbert and former Michigan State press-coverage standout Darqueze Dennard.

The Lions also won't be picking up the fifth-year option on defensive tackle Nick Fairley while Ndamukong Suh is the poster child of the team's undisciplined play and quite possible on the trading block. Pitt DT Aaron Donald, although undersized, is the best and most athletically gifted three- technique tackle in the draft and could also be in play.

"You look at Detroit at 10, depending how this draft falls, remember they did not extend Nick Fairley inside," NFL Network draft analyst Charles Davis said in a recent conference call. "They told him he's going to have to play for it before they give him a contract extension. (Aaron) Donald could be a guy that they could make a move on him right then and there."

2013 Record: 7-9

Top Needs: CB, WR, S, OL

First Three Picks: No. 10, No. 45, No. 76

Number of Selections: 8 (1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 4, 6, 7)

CALLING THE SHOTS: Marin Mayhew will be entering his sixth season at the helm and rebuilt an 0-16 team into a playoff one in three seasons before taking a huge step back in 2012. Last year was a mixed bag, tilting toward the negative and Mayhew really needs to get the Lions' heads above water again in what is a mediocre division.

RECENT FIRST ROUND HISTORY: 2013 - Ziggy Ansah (DE, BYU); 2012 - Riley Reiff (OT, Iowa); 2011 - Nick Fairley (DT, Auburn); 2010 - Ndamukong Suh (DT, Nebraska), Jahvid Best (RB, California); 2009 - Matthew Stafford (QB, Georgia), Brandon Pettigrew (TE, Oklahoma State); 2008 - Gosder Cherilus (OT, Boston College); 2007 - Calvin Johnson (WR, Georgia Tech); 2006 - Ernie Sims (LB, Florida State); 2005 - Mike Williams (WR, USC); 2004 - Roy Williams (WR, Texas), Kevin Jones (RB, Virginia Tech); 2003 - Charles Rogers (WR, Michigan State).

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