There’s a lot of differing opinions about how the Detroit Lions should handle the 2021 NFL Draft, but likely none as powerful as what former quarterback Dan Orlovsky is offering up.
Orlovsky has had a front-row seat to some of the ups and downs of the organization in recent years, and he believes it’s time for the franchise to turn over a new leaf with regards to their decision making in the draft.
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On a recent episode of NFL Live, Orlovsky made his pitch as to how the Lions need to approach the draft this year. As he said, it should be about drafting the best offensive lineman for the trenches.
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) April 26, 2021
“Someone tell me the organization in the NFL in its history that has built itself a consistent winner on skill position player in the draft early. It doesn’t happen. I’ve lived it with Detroit, I know the fans have lived it. I’ve been on the team where it’s like ‘let’s take another receiver early when we don’t have the pieces in place to allow that receiver to play.’ The Lions have to be disciplined. Brad Holmes, Dan Campbell, don’t do what your predecessors have made the mistake of doing saying ‘we need a guy for our quarterback to throw to.’ No you don’t. You’re not a good football team. Build from the line of scrimmage. You as an organization, I’ve watched you make mistake after mistake after mistake taking pass catchers. Do not get caught up in the shiny, sexy object. Do this the right way in Detroit for the first time in 30 years. Take a big.”
For years in the 2000s, the Lions did approach the draft like a skill position binge, but Orlovsky might not be right to say that the Lions haven’t focused on the trenches enough lately. Since 2010 the team has selected four offensive linemen in the first round and three defensive lineman. They haven’t totally ignored the trenches as much as they may have selected some of the wrong players. This year, it’s more about getting it right for a new regime no matter who the team picks.
Even such, Orlovsky wants to see an offensive lineman join the fold before a skill position does.
Orlovsky Begs Lions to Avoid Quarterbacks
It’s not just pass catchers that Orlovsky is hoping the team avoids the temptation to draft, but pass throwers as well. Orlovsky hopped on a recent conference call and was asked if he could see the Lions taking the plunge at quarterback this year. Perhaps unlike plenty of others who have been asked lately, Orlovsky’s answer was more of a resounding no.
According to the pundit, he would be surprised if a signal caller was the pick in the end, and instead expects the Lions to draft someone for the trenches, either an offensive lineman or a trade backwards in order to help the rebuild.
Dan Orlovsky, on a conference call just now, said he doesn't see the Lions taking a QB at 7, figures drafting some line help or maybe a trade down (NE?) could be in the mix
— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) April 20, 2021
Orlovsky’s opinion on this matter is not to be discounted, as he has maintained ties with the organization and was amongst the first to speculate that the Lions would have to seek to trade Matthew Stafford this offseason. That move played out, and since, Orlovsky has been effusive in his praise of Jared Goff. Is that a coincidence? Perhaps, or perhaps Orlovsky’s thinking more closely mirrors the team’s at this juncture.
With a deep class at wide receiver and few elite defensive options early on, momentum seems to be building in Detroit for an offensive lineman in the draft. This is just another potential step in that direction for the Lions if Orlovsky is right.
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Offensive Line Looking Like Target for Lions
As Orlovsky says, it makes more sense that the Lions could target another lineman for their rebuild. Even though the Lions have Taylor Decker, Jonah Jackson and Frank Ragnow in the fold as well as quality young depth pieces like Tyrell Crosby, the team could need one more elite piece to perhaps cement their transformation toward one of the best groups in the NFL. While wideout and defense are big needs for the Lions, the team could simply stay put and take an elite talent like Rashawn Slater or Penei Sewell in order to help out their offensive line for the near future.
It’s clear Slater, Sewell or potentially even Christian Darrisaw are the types of players who could move the needle for the Lions in terms of getting a tough lineman up front. Whether the draft plays out like this or not is anybody’s guess, but right tackle could be a need deemed too important to pass up in the end for the team.
That’s just the move some like Orlovsky want to see playing out when all is said and done.