NFL Draft: Who Will Schwartz Pick?

The people in Detroit weren't braced for this. The Detroit Lions actually made a personnel move that made sense. But will the good decision making continue with April's draft, and how will Jim Schwartz pick? Draft expert Topher Smith evaluates ...

It comes unexpectedly. The people in Detroit weren't braced for this. The Detroit Lions actually made a personnel move that made sense.

On Friday, January 16, 2009 the Lions officially announced former Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz as their new head coach. He's a name people actually know. And so far, no reference to sharp shovels or other such tools have been made.

But what has been referenced is the question that seems to be burning at the tip of everyone's tongue.

"The first question I was asked was who we were going to take at number one, and I hadn't even got my luggage yet. There are baby steps that need to be taken first" Schwartz said at his inaugural press conference as the Lions head man.

Schwartz then moved on to address such things as finding a coaching staff, and more importantly, finding his new facilities.

Though it can't be expected that Schwartz won't have a large say in who the Lions take in the upcoming draft, speculation has pointed to several gunslingers, such as Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford. Part of that speculation comes from Schwartz comment earlier in the week of "finding a replacement for Bobby Layne."


Since declaring, many believe USC QB Mark Sanchez will be Detroit's No. 1 pick.
SC Playbook Photo

While most of the talk surrounded Sam Bradford, the Oklahoma Sooner chose to stay in school. Cross him off the list. Then, enter now former USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. With his announcement that he would be entering the draft, the speculation got hot and heavy that the former Trojan would become the newest Lion.

With such a cryptic comment regarding the replacement of the last quarterback to have any championship success in Detroit, the fan base has gone up in arms regarding the selection of a signal caller with the first overall pick.

However, such may not be the case. It is completely plausible that the Lions may still concentrate on other holes in the roster first then look to their second first round pick, or even later to find a quarterback.

If anyone knows that a serviceable quarterback, who can be a simple game manager and limit mistakes, will suffice in today's NFL, it would be Schwartz. Witnessing first hand the 2008 success of Kerry Collins, a 13 year veteran who battled personal problems and mediocrity throughout his career, Schwartz would be the first to understand you don't have to hitch your wagon to the prettiest pony in the stable.

But it should be known that the quarterback situation in Detroit is leaving a lot to be desired. It wouldn't be surprising at all should the Lions choose to select a quarterback in the draft. The burning question is where they'll take one. It's likely Schwartz will want to start fresh, instead of leftovers like Dan Orlovsky, Drew Stanton, or Daunte Culpepper.


Despite finally getting his opportunity, it's likely that Dan Orlovsky's career in Detroit is finished.
Jeff Gross/Getty

It's also imperative to understand that Schwartz may attach himself to some of the shining defensive stars, such as Sanchez's teammate and USC linebacker Rey Maualuga or Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin. Neither seem to be worthy of the top spot, but should they fall the latter parts of the first round (where Detroit also harbors the 20th overall pick), it's an option that would be studied with exhausting effort.

But, as the Lions new headman states, baby steps must be taken. As soon as a new staff is put in place, the roster examined with detail, and the completion of the draft combine, options and speculation will be narrowed by a large margin.

If those steps are taken, the Lions will, inexplicably it seems, keep following the path of good decisions.

Topher Smith also writes for GoBlueWolverine, covering Michigan athletics.


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