Three positions are considered to have the highest value when it comes to the NFL Draft. They are quarterbacks, pass rushers and left tackles – in that order.
The Lions are in an interesting position at No. 10 because they’re probably just out of reach for the seven or eight “elite” players on most team’s boards, but if any of those players start to slip, the Lions slot at 10 could become very desirable.
But first, let's go back to those three high-value positions mentioned above. There are two highly rated quarterbacks (Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles), two elite pass rushers (Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack) and three high-caliber left tackles (Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan).
There’s always a chance one of those quarterbacks or left tackles start to slip – we’ve seen it before – and if that happens, the Lions could be in a terrific spot to move back and pick up an extra selection in an extremely talented and deep draft.
Teams are more apt to move up and give up assets if it involves a quarterback or a left tackle.
“If Detroit is there at 10, the one or two guys they really wanted are gone, even if they move down five or six spots and got one pick, to me that's a bonus,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock recently said in a conference call. “Why not? You're going to get the same guy at 14 as you get at 10. If you get a third-round pick, it's awesome. I don't think it's going to be something they know until they get on the clock.”
If the Lions move back four, five or six spots, players like tight end Eric Ebron, cornerbacks Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and even an outside linebacker in Anthony Barr have better value than they might have at No. 10.
The Lions would also secure an additional third-round pick that’s more valuable this year than it has been in years past.
“There are a lot of really good players there,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said of the mid rounds during his annual pre-draft press conference. “The grades are higher longer into the process this year.”
For Mayhew, all options are on the table at this point. He began conversations on Monday with opposing general managers about the price of moving up and the bounty he could get moving back
“We’re open to staying at 10, open to moving up, open to moving back right now,” he said.
“Wherever we are, if we’re picking 22nd, we have a point we would go up to. If we’re picking second, we have a point we would go back to. We would say, if we get past this point, we’re not getting the quality of player that we really want to get. So, we always have that range. We have that range now.”
When it’s all said and done, however, the best opportunity for the Lions to add enough talent and depth to a roster to get where they want to go might just be moving back.