DRAFT TALK: Filling The Need At Right Tackle

Despite their numerous free agent signings, the Lions still have some needs that they must address before the start of 2005's training camp sessions. The most glaring of needs exists at right tackle where free agent Stockar McDougle departed for Miami. Will Detroit use a valuable draft pick or will they attempt to fill the hole from players already in the organization?

ALLEN PARK - While the Detroit Lions may be approaching April's NFL draft without any glaring holes, there are still some holes nonetheless that need to be filled. While a ship may sink quickly with a gaping hole, a bunch of smaller holes will result in the same fate.

Lions president and general manager Matt Millen left the team with just one glaring need, at right tackle where four-year veteran Stockar McDougle departed to Miami. Detroit will consider untested Victor Rogers and second-year player Kelly Butler as replacements, but both are longshots to be an every down starter.

Detroit could approach the situation in a number of ways. They could take a first round flier on Washington's Khalif Barnes, who is arguably the best player at the position. With the 10th overall pick, Barnes is likely to be on the board when Detroit drafts. That could mean a switch of positions for former Michigan tackle Jeff Backus, who appears to be better suited to the right tackle position.

The Lions are also expecting a visit today from San Francisco 49ers restricted free agent tackle Kyle Kosier, a former seventh-round pick from Arizona State. Kosier is similar to Rogers in that he's been a developmental guy but has playing experience at both left tackle and guard. He would give the Lions a solid depth guy and an heir apparent to the position occupied by Matt Joyce, but he doesn't appear to be starting material either. Detroit would have to relinquish a 7th-round pick as compensation for acquiring Kosier.

If Detroit is not interested in spending a first round pick on an offensive lineman, they could gamble that either Alex Barron of Florida State or Jamaal Brown of Oklahoma would fall to round two where either would be better value. Or they could even pass by the first two rounds where an intriguing name, Michael Munoz, son of Cincinnati Bengals Hall of Fame tackle Anthony Munoz, is expected to be available.

Finally, Detroit could take the riskiest of all gambles by waiting to see who is released in the June 1 cap casualty cuts. Players generally get released at that time because their production no longer matches their level of compensation. It is possible that a decent caliber tackle could be on the market for Detroit.

With so many options available to the team they shouldn't have any problem filling the last of their glaring needs.

One hopes that Millen learned a valuable lesson from his previous mistakes with offensive linemen, most notably the Jeff Hartings-Brenden Stai fiasco, and gives head coach Steve Mariucci a solid alternative to McDougle in the starting lineup.

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