Lions NFL draft preview: Running backs

The NFL draft is less than two weeks away, which means soon enough the Detroit Lions will have to reveal whether all of their Sammy Watkins attention and visits from Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack had substance or were designed to throw everyone off.

But the draft will be more than just one round for the Lions, who will need to use the three days in May to build depth on a roster that is big on stars but small on those players beyond the big names that can turn the Lions into a playoff team.

Every day up until the first day of the draft, we’ll look at a different position grouping and see what Detroit has and what the team could end up looking for during the 2014 draft.

Today continues with running backs.

Previous position groups: Quarterbacks

Players Lost: None.

Players Signed: Joique Bell (re-signed); Jed Collins (from New Orleans)

Players on the roster: Reggie Bush; Bell; Mikel Leshoure; Theo Riddick; Steven Miller. Fullback – Montell Owens; Collins.

Draft priority: Very low

Potential Rounds: Late, if at all

Players who have visited or the Lions have met with: Dri Archer, Kent State; Zurlon Tipton, Central Michigan (local workout).

Analysis: With all the other issues facing the Lions, from small ones like bringing in a young cornerback to larger ones like the entire defense, wide receiver and even a backup center, the one spot Detroit does not need to be concerned is at running back.

The position, unless you can land a franchise back like Adrian Peterson or Arian Foster (who was an undrafted free agent), no longer has the value it used to. Considering the way New Orleans has used running backs in the past – having played a lot of them in varying roles – there just isn’t a need to draft one until very late.

And very late would likely just become the best player available situation. So considering we’re talking so late in the draft and so many other teams with varying needs, it could be difficult to speculate who would be available and who could be taken.

The type of running back, though, could be pinpointed. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Lions take a back somewhat similar to Bush, as he once again did not play a full season and while he is still a game-breaker, insurance could be useful there.

But again, it depends who is available late.

Of all reasonable options, I’d take: Likely none. Too many other needs to fill. However, if a multipurpose back like Dri Archer from Kent State or De’Anthony Thomas from Oregon fell to the sixth round, I’d grab them instantaneously because they could be a role difference-maker – kind of like Andre Ellington with Arizona last season. That type of talent that late is certainly advisable to draft.

Possible targets: Dri Archer, Kent State; De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon; Silas Redd, USC; Lache Seastrunk, Baylor.