COMMENTARY | Taking Iowa's Riley Reiff with the 23rd pick of the 2012 NFL Draft on Thursday was the right choice, a wise investment for the Detroit Lions. After all, with the future of the franchise resting firmly on the shoulders of quarterback Matt Stafford, Detroit had to invest in protection: 6-feet-6, 313 pounds of it, to be exact.
However, the defensive side of the ball was a concern for the Lions this year. The Lions did draft a cornerback, as expected, but that pick didn't come until the third round when they selected Dwight "Bill" Bentley of Louisiana-Lafayette (85th overall) Friday night.
Well, that selection did address a critical issue facing the franchise -- it strengthened and added youth to the secondary. Check. And check.
However, grabbing former Oklahoma Sooners star wideout Ryan Broyles in the second round was a bit of a head-scratcher. Couldn't the Lions have drafted a similar talent later? Perhaps one not coming off an ACL surgery? Nonetheless, Broyles, who was the 54th player taken, is a great athlete. He's been compared to former Michigan State star Derrick Mason, a 15-year NFL veteran who is now with the Houston Texans.
Despite failures when drafting receivers early, Broyles was the right pick -- and quite worthy -- for Detroit, says Lions GM Martin Mayhew.
"Best player on our board," Mayhew said. "Very productive guy. Tremendous production over a four-year career.
"Fits our offense. Will be a great fit for us and really helps our offensive skill. Another receiving weapon for our quarterback. We feel great about the pick."
Wouldn't the Lions have been better off selecting Central Florida's Josh Robinson? He was one of the top corners available. Sure, this year's class brimmed with secondary talent, specifically cornerbacks. And after Reiff was selected, a second-round pick was to be spent on that position -- right?
Earlier Friday, reports surfaced that the Lions could strike a deal with the Dallas Cowboys, who are looking to shop cornerback Mike Jenkins, a fourth-year veteran who's started 43 of 44 games. And if the Lions were indeed interested, it would have made perfect sense not to take a corner with the 54th pick -- that is, if Robinson was off the board.
In a perfect world, the Lions would had been able to land both. Instead, the Minnesota Vikings scooped Robinson with the 66th overall pick.
Robinson dazzled at the NFL Combine. He was the fastest man at the workouts, running a superb 4.33-second 40-yard dash. Unofficially, he ran a 4.29. An eyelash's difference, but still. He's fast. His vertical leap of 38.5 inches was the second-highest, too. An athlete, no doubt. One that would bolster Detroit's secondary.
When Mayhew said he was the best player left for Detroit, well, he must have been the best player left for Detroit. A third-round cornerback like Bentley has similar skills when compared to a projected second-rounder like Robinson. That was the popular belief when analyzing corners in this year's draft. It was popular because it was true.
Robinson was probably the exception, though.
If Detroit truly wanted to take the best player at a position that was an obvious area of concern, why not use that pick on the best player at that position? Logic, at this point, doesn't apply. It's the draft. Crazier things have happened.
Jenkins is probably about as talented as any corner left in the draft. The Lions, should they acquire him, would get a bargain deal, thus, taking care of two issues at once: Getting the talent they need and getting it cheap. No harm there. Fiscal responsibility, if you ask me. But they could have done that after selecting Robinson.
Adam Biggers has followed the National Football League for over 20 years, specifically the Detroit Lions. He can be found on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.
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