Whereas a 6-10 season for most teams would be deemed a disappointment, there was real hope in the Lions' 6-10 2010 season. After years of putrid records, the Lions were more than competitive last season and their arrow is decidedly pointing up.
On defense, they have a future star in defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh – if he isn't a star already – and a very strong defensive line. Offensively, Calvin Johnson is one of the best wide receivers in the league, the offensive line is improving and Jahvid Best is an explosive running back of the future. If former No. 1 overall pick Matt Stafford can stay healthy for a full season, the Lions will be a team no one wants to play in 2011. But there's still a lot of work to be done.
The secondary is the primary concern and, luckily for general manager Martin Mayhew, Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara is still on the board. Amukamara is widely considered the second-best cornerback in the draft, and he could likely step right into the Lions' starting lineup. Safety is another position of need as the Lions look to pair someone alongside Louis Delmas, but there's not a player here at that position worthy of the pick.
According to ProFootballWeekly, outside linebacker is the team's biggest need, but there's also not an elite prospect at that position available here. Though if the Lions choose to bolster an already stacked defensive line – the Lions' 44 sacks in 2010 were their most in the 21st century – there are some quality pass rushers here for the taking. Missouri's Aldon Smith and Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan offer quarterback pressure off the edge, while Wisconsin's J.J. Watt should be able to wreak havoc up the middle.
On offense, Johnson is still looking for a quality running mate at wide receiver, but that's not a particularly deep position in this area of the draft. That leaves the offensive line, where the Lions took a major step forward in 2010 as they allowed the fifth-fewest sacks per pass attempt in the league. Still, another tackle of the future is a hole that remains to be filled, so Southern Cal's Tyron Smith and Boston College's Anthony Castonzo could be of interest. Smith is the more athletic of the two and projects as a great pass blocker on the blind side. Castonzo is a more polished prospect and is said to be ready to step in as a rookie.
It looks like Amukamara offers the best marriage of need and value here, but the choice is yours. What do the Lions do?
Needs: OLB, CB, S
All-Good: DT, MLB, QB
No. 1 - Carolina: QB Cam Newton, Auburn
No. 2 - Denver: DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
No. 3 - Buffalo: LB Von Miller, Texas A&M
No. 4 - Cincinnati: QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
No. 5 - Arizona: WR A.J. Green, Georgia
No. 6 - Cleveland: WR Julio Jones, Alabama
No. 7 - San Francisco: DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson
No. 8 - Tennessee: DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
No. 9 - Dallas: DE Cameron Jordan, California
No. 10 - Washington: QB Jake Locker, Washington
No. 11 - Houston: CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
No. 12 - Minnesota: DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina