Martin Mayhew talks Lions NFL Draft in Thursday press conference

Posted Apr 18, 2013

Mayhew held his annual pre-draft press conference, answering questions regarding the team's decision-making when it comes to selecting the fifth-overall pick next week

The Lions have finished up the vast majority of their internal meetings in preparation for next week's NFL Draft, so general manager Martin Mayhew held his annual pre-draft press conference with the media on Thursday.

Here is a breakdown of what he covered:

Q. Are you down to a top five on your draft board?

A. "You know, we certainly have them lined up pretty good," Mayhew said. "I think we're prepared to make a pick there.

"Also, as you know, we like to keep our options open. So, we're ready to move back or do whatever. For us right now, we've vetted that part of the process and we're looking deeper into the draft and looking deeper into some other guys."

Mayhew said he hasn't made a lot of calls to opposing general managers as of yet and has not received any calls in return.

He said that process usually ratchets up the weekend before the draft and leading into draft week.

Q. Is this draft more wide open at the top of the draft?

A. "You don't have those seven immediate impact starters that change your franchise at the top of this draft," he said. "You have a bunch of good, quality players, and I think that's why there's so much speculation about it."

It's been pretty common knowledge dating back to the college season that there doesn't seem to be the can't-miss prospects in this year's draft like last year's Andrew Luck and RG3.

Q. How much does Mayhew follow draft rumors and how much stock does he put into them?

Dee MillinerCB Dee Milliner

A. There has been speculation by ESPN's Mel Kiper that the Lions will trade up to the No. 1 spot to select Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner. There is also a report that the team is interested in trading down to the 20s.

Let's be clear about one thing – it's all speculation.

"I follow it," Mayhew said. "How much stock do I put into it? None. Zero. But I certainly read and keep up with what's happening around the league and what people are saying."

Mayhew made it clear that he has no plans to trade up to the No. 1 spot.

Q. How has the hiring of Brian Xanders as a Senior Personnel Director helped the draft process?

A. "He's been a great hire for us," Mayhew said. "He's really helped us. He has perspective from two different organizations; from Atlanta, from Denver. Sort of a fresh perspective and some fresh energy into our dialogue.

"He's done some things with the computer system that we're building right now. We haven't launched it officially yet, but we're getting some progress from that, some output from that. So, he's doing a really good job for us."

Another benefit to having Xanders on board is the perspective he can bring on the players the Lions currently have on the roster and how those picks were viewed when Xanders was evaluating them with the Broncos and Falcons.

Q. How much more certainty is there at No. 5 than later in the first round and even into the early second round?

A. "I think when you're at No. 5, you can have a pretty good idea of six or seven names that can be there," he said. "When you're at No. 36, it's a little bit more wide open. You have to be prepared to go a lot of different directions there."

Mayhew said there's an expectation that a player at No. 5 will come in and have an immediate impact.

Q. How does Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner project to the NFL?

A. Milliner is in play for the Lions at No. 5, despite the fact that Mayhew talked glowingly on Thursday about last year's three drafted corners – Bill Bentley, Chris Greenwood and Jonte Green.

"He's the elusive, big corner," Mayhew said. "Everybody's trying to find that guy. You know, we've been here for years talking about these guys and trying to find a guy with some size and he certainly fits that mold.

"Over the years, (people) have always said you need a corner that's big with some speed and some coverage ability who is good at the line and is a smart guy that can play nickel and play outside and maybe move into safety.

"Okay, where is that guy? There's (maybe) five of them in the history of the NFL, you know? He brings some of those traits to the table, I think."

Q. Is taking a guard at No. 5 less of a risk than it used to be because of the rookie wage scale?

A. There hasn't been a guard taken in the top five picks of the draft since 1985, when the Philadelphia Eagles selected Bill Fralic second overall.

Alabama's Chance Warmack and North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper are the two top guards available in the draft and, potentially, top 10 picks.

"I think that's true to a certain extent," he said. "If you go back and look five or six years ago, with the way the rookie contracts were structured, the idea of taking a guard that high really made no sense at all.

"At the slot that we're in right now, it's probably $19 to $20 million over the first four years type of deal, which I don't think is unreasonable for a good guard.

"I think if ever there was a time for a guard to go early, it would be this year with the caliber of the two guys that are coming out and with the way the rookie contracts are structured right now."

Q. How many first-round grades were given out this year?

A. "We didn't give as many first-round grades this year as we normally have. It's deep, though," Mayhew said. "It goes a deeper into the second round this year. We expect to get good players in our first three picks, for sure, that can come in and have an impact.

"Then we have to be more selective in the back end of our draft to make sure we select the right guys."