Detroit News writer Mike O'Hara summed up the smoke screen process the best
on the insider
stating that teams "send out trial balloons, and hope they explode in their
At the 2007 NFL combine, perhaps no other team is better equipped -- or has
taken advantage of the opportunity -- more than the Detroit Lions.
The Lions have dined Joe Thomas, the massive offensive tackle out of
Wisconsin. They have an obvious need at the tackle position, and Thomas -- a
surefire top five pick -- would alleviate concerns at the position for the next
decade. They have also talked extensively with CMU tackle Joe Staley, a likely
early second-round pick with a solid NFL future. The Lions even told Staley at
the combine he would be the team's pick in round two if Thomas isn't their guy.
Its one of Detroit's many "ifs" plaguing analysts, agents and, most importantly,
other teams. Maybe even the franchise itself.
Because the Lions, holders of the No. 2 overall pick, aren't in the market
for two tackles (and have expressed interest in a myriad of positions), it
is anyone's guess what route they'll take. Detroit's problems are diverse,
and there is not a position on the team that is isn't untouchable, even early in
However, it is likely that the team's draft board, although adjustable, has a
ranking with a clear target at No. 2 overall if they maintain the pick. But
the smoke screens fanned by Detroit aren't to prevent Oakland (who holds No. 1
overall pick) from snagging its man. It is to stir trade interest with the hope
of securing additional picks.
Lions president Matt Millen, noted for his draft maneuvering (Cleveland
fell victim a few years ago when Millen pulled in both Kevin Jones and wide
receiver Roy Williams with a first-round trade), understands that the franchise
needs as many opportunities in the draft as they can get -- even if it means
surrendering the No. 2 overall pick and moving down. And Millen, along with head
coach Rod Marinelli and a formidable staff, have acted accordingly.
Besides Thomas and Staley, the Lions have scouted the quarterback position; they were also in attendance for Georgia Tech receiver
Calvin Johnson's exemplary workout, and Marinelli plans to meet soon with
Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson.
"Detroit needs a running back. I know I might be a
Detroit Lion," Peterson commented during his combine press conference.
Thomas had a similar comment, as will many players
that have the potential to be drafted between No. 1 and No. 5.
To decode Detroit's smoke screen (and this is by no
way mathematical or guaranteed) is to breakdown the state of the team, along with
the small, off-season news tidbits that have been brushed to the side by the
combine and general lack of interest.
Part Two ("Breaking down the smoke screen") will
be available Tuesday morning ...
Nate Caminata, publisher of the
Roar Report, is an award-winning journalist
and has written for numerous publications in both print and on the internet. He
covered the Detroit Lions for 10 years.
One writer in Indianapolis summed up the smoke screen process the best, stating teams "send out trial balloons, and hope they explode in their competitor's faces." At the 2007 NFL combine, perhaps no other team is better equipped -- or has taken advantage of the opportunity -- more than the Detroit Lions. Part 1 of a 2 part series inside.
Smoke screen Pt. 1: Reading between the Lions
The Lions are in a prime position in the NFL draft to grab a marquee player, or marquee trade.