There is never anything sexy about selecting an offensive lineman in the first round of an NFL Draft, but if you want to be a contender when it comes to getting your grubby mitts on a Vince Lombardi trophy it all begins with the big uglies.
The Detroit Lions were a 2011 season playoff team, but they were steam-rolled in the WIld-Card round by a rampant New Orleans Saints team, losing 28-45, including conceding 35 second-half points.
One of the key reasons the Lions failed to roar in the Bayou was an inability to establish a running game, with Detroit’s leading rusher being the brittle-kneed Kevin Smith who underwhelmed America with 21 yards on six carries.
The Lions drafted Illinois running-back Mikel Leshoure as a second-round pick in 2011, hoping he would solve the backfield blushes, but he tore his Achilles is August and has never played a down. He has also been caught twice possessing ‘mary-jane’ this year, so the Lions may be less inclined to show their full support to him becoming the featured back in 2012.
Aside from the running game, the Lions offensive line was in need of a serious upgrade, and this brings me neatly on to the Silver and Blue’s first-round pick in 2012, junior offensive tackle Riley Reiff from Iowa.
This pick was pure necessity and Reiff will be an immediate upgrade on Jason Fox, and the successor to stalwart Jeff Backus.
If you can cast your mind back to the turn of the century you will recall ‘the greatest show on turf’ the St Louis Rams, led by former shelf-stacker Kurt Warner and Swiss Army knife skilled running-back Marshall Faulk.
What really made the difference in that team was the first overall pick made by the Rams in 1997, five-time All Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler Orlando Pace. Yep a man monster at offensive tackle.
Now I’m not saying that Riley Reiff is ‘THE’ answer, but I am projecting the Lions to win 1-2 playoff games in early 2013.