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Matt Shepard

Shep's Take: In the Discussion

 
Shep's Take: In the Discussion
Posted February 25th, 2014 @ 10:38am

When it comes to the NFL Draft, too many times we rush to judgement and plead with our favorite team to do one of two things: take a hometown kid, in our case usually from Michigan or Michigan State, or address a position of need with the first round pick. Fans, especially here in Detroit, hate the phrase, "best player available."

The Lions have used four picks over the last two seasons on cornerbacks, and because of last year's struggles against the pass, and the fact that it's a passing league, we don't feel like there is sufficient talent in the secondary to compete.

Too many have already given up on last year's second round pick, Darius Slay, even though I have told people he spent two years at a Junior College and just one year at a Division 1 program that played almost all man-to-man defense. Give him some time.

Fans here feel like Bill Bentley is strictly a nickel, Jonte Green is a special teams player and Chris Greenwood can't stay healthy enough to judge. Fair points. Maybe too quick to judge, but understandable.

So this year fans of the Lions are screaming for Darqueze Dennard to be selected at #10. It helps that he's from MSU, and we've watched him every Saturday. My hope is more can look beyond the fondness they have for him in their heart and can focus on him as a football player: his aggressiveness, ability to tackle, competitiveness, bump & run skills, and his ability to recover.

The personal story is great and so is the local angle, but the bottom line is the kid is a hell of a football player.

Photo/Getty Images

Dennard's combine performance Tuesday was good enough to warrant further consideration for the Lions to take him in the first round.

I love him. I've said it all year, but that doesn't mean the Lions shouldn't be discussing other high-level players who have opened eyes in Indianapolis either. You should understand why Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert, who had seven picks this past season and ran a faster 40-yard time than Dennard, is also in play at #10. The Lions need to seriously consider Clemson WR Sammy Watkins, Texas A&M WR Mike Evans, USC WR Marquise Lee, Louisville safety Calvin Pryor, linebackers C.J. Mosley and, yes, even Michigan OT Taylor Lewan. 

There is so much that must be reviewed, measured and weighed over the next month or so, but at least with today's showing, Dennard is in the discussion.

And that's a really good thing for both Spartans and Lions fans.

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