Johnson or Russell? All bets are off

The Lions love Thomas. No, wait. They love Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams. And they also love a slew of players that will likely fall into the middle of round one. As the draft draws closer, the predictability of Detroit's 2007 draft becomes cloudier. Much more inside, including Jamarcus Russell's visit to Detroit.

Here's the latest trade rumor: Lions president Matt Millen is plotting to move up from No. 2 in the NFL draft, not down. "I think Mr. Millen said they were going to trade with Oakland to take me at No. 1," Wisconsin offensive lineman Joe Thomas said.

OK, just kidding. Thomas was smiling as he said that.

But who knows? So much stuff has been circulating about the Lions, it's hard to separate fact from fiction.

The Lions love Thomas. No, wait. They love Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams. And they also love a slew of players that will likely fall into the middle of round one.

But they traded the No. 2 pick to Tampa Bay for the No. 4 pick and Simeon Rice, right? No, wait. They didn't.

We can safely say this: The Lions aren't going to trade up to No. 1. They have talked to a number of teams (about eight, to be exact) about moving down from No. 2, but so far it's just talk. There are a lot of ways the Lions could go.

Everything seems to hinge on Oakland. If the Raiders take JaMarcus Russell first overall, then there will be a market for the No. 2 pick because Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson -- considered by many the best player in the draft -- will be available. But if the Raiders take Johnson, all bets are off.

If the Raiders take Russell, the Lions might want to move down -- or take Johnson and trade him -- for two reasons. One, there are players they like who would be available a little lower, such as Thomas and Adams. Two, more picks would help them fill more holes.

But completing a trade is easier said than done. Tampa Bay seems like a possible trading partner at No. 4. The Bucs are said to covet Johnson. They have to move up only two spots, and they have two second-round picks. But Washington, at No. 6, doesn't have many picks to offer. Atlanta, at No. 8, might be too far down.

Don't rule out the Lions taking Johnson and keeping him. They would be ridiculed for taking a receiver in the top 10 for the fourth time in five years, but they still need help at receiver and pass-happy Mike Martz is still their offensive coordinator. And anyway, they will be ridiculed if they pass on Johnson, too.

If the Raiders take Johnson, the Lions might be "stuck" with the No. 2 pick. It seems unlikely they would take Russell, Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn or Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson. They could shop the pick in case someone is worried Cleveland will take one of those guys at No. 3. They could stretch and take Adams, but more likely they would play it safe and take Thomas.

One thing to remember, though. As bad as the Lions have been at the top of the draft, they have failed later in the draft, too. They need help in a lot of areas and can't afford to miss at the top, middle or bottom.


LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell wasn't very revealing as he left his visit to Lions headquarters. He said he would love to play in Detroit. But asked what he told Oakland, he said: "Same thing." Asked if he had a gut feeling about where he would end up, he said: "You never know, man. Just let it happen."

Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn thinks he would be a great fit for the Lions. Quinn would go from working under Charlie Weis, the former New England offensive coordinator, to working under Mike Martz, the director of the "Greatest Show on Turf" in St. Louis. "You can just tell from speaking with him that it would be a great opportunity for me to be here and work with him," Quinn said. "I think a lot of things that Coach Martz likes to do, he would be able to utilize my talent and we would be able to do a lot of special things I think with the offensive scheme."

If the Lions draft Wisconsin offensive lineman Joe Thomas, he would be willing to play right tackle. The Lions already have made a commitment to a left tackle, Jeff Backus, who signed a six-year contract last year than included $15.5 million guaranteed. "We haven't really talked about it," Thomas said. "Obviously if I get drafted, I think then we'll talk about it. But they've asked me about playing right tackle. I have no problem with that. For me, my goal as a first-year player is not to start at any certain position, but just to be a starter on the team and help the team win."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't think anyone would hold a grudge." -- QB Brady Quinn, on how Michigan football fans would react if the Lions drafted a kid who was born in Columbus, Ohio, and played at Notre Dame.

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