I imagine some Detroit fans who watched last Saturday’s Big 12 championship game wondered whether Ndamukong Suh could possibly fall to the Lions in the 2010 draft.
That’s right. The Lions would have the No. 4 overall pick if the season ended today. But after Suh’s dominating performance against Texas -- 4.5 sacks among his 12 tackles -- he is atop the boards of many draft prognosticators. It’s absurd to start projecting picks in December, but Suh is as much of a consensus No. 1 as you can have at this point.
Assuming they don’t have the No. 1 pick, could Suh still be available when the Lions do pick? Here’s what ESPN analyst Mel Kiper wrote this week about his December draft board:
"It'll be hard to drop Suh. His tape is stunningly strong evidence. That said, many players will rise and fall as the senior all-star games -- that'll be the first chance for many pro scouts to see guys like Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow under center -- bowl season, the combine, and pro days take place. Again, this isn't yet about draft position. That changes everything, because of need. This is a raw ranking of the top NFL prospects, with juniors not in the mix unless they are in the top 15 or 20."
Indeed, at this early date, the best the Lions can hope is that the teams above want to draft a franchise quarterback. That would elevate at least one player -- McCoy, Tebow, Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen, Washington’s Jake Locker or Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford -- ahead of Suh.
You might blanch at the thought that one of those quarterbacks could be a No. 1 or No. 2 overall pick. But when it comes to quarterbacks, normal draft rules and practices are cast aside.
Below are the teams with the eight worst records in the NFL. Much is left to be decided, but I think it represents a good working list of the teams that will be around the Lions’ draft position this April.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-11)
2. St. Louis Rams (1-11)
3. Cleveland Browns (1-11)
4. Detroit Lions (2-10)
5. Washington Redskins (3-9)
6. Kansas City Chiefs (3-9)
7. Oakland Raiders (4-8)
8. Buffalo Bills (4-8)
In addition to the Lions, I see two teams in that group that almost certainly won’t look to draft a quarterback high in the first round: Tampa Bay and Kansas City. The Browns have former first-rounder Brady Quinn on their roster, but uncertainty in their front office makes them hard to predict. The same goes for Washington, which seemingly is set with Jason Campbell.
This might be the best December scenario for the Lions to draft Suh: Getting the No. 2 overall pick behind St. Louis. The Rams could certainly use Suh, but Marc Bulger’s injury problems and their own home attendance woes might motivate them to consider a quarterback at No. 1 overall.
This is all funny talk until the draft season really begins with next month’s all-star games. But we’re allowed some fun, right?