ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The pick: Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas
My take: The Lions knew they would need to draft a center to compete with veteran Dominic Raiola this season -- either to beat Raiola for the starting job or learn from him for a season or two before taking over in 2015 or 2016. While they missed out on Marcus Martin from USC -- likely the top center on their board -- they decided to go with one of the top players remaining at the position.
This is probably also indicative of the team not really liking the available secondary and defensive line prospects remaining. Swanson was the fourth-rated center in the draft by ESPN.com and has good leadership qualities. He is going to be more of a run blocker than a pass blocker at first, but considering what will be around him, Detroit can handle that. This means that almost all of Detroit’s line by 2015 could be players drafted by Martin Mayhew. Swanson could potentially play center or guard, according to Mayhew.
Secondary question: This could mean the Lions, who have obvious needs in the defensive backfield, could go the first two days of the draft without taking a cornerback or safety. Considering those were considered among their top needs in the draft, perhaps the team has confidence in Chris Houston returning to form or the young cornerbacks are coming along better than expected.
What’s next: The Lions will continue drafting Saturday with a pair of selections in the fourth round.