During the 2013 NFL Draft, we will see two elite guard prospects come off of the board. While there are many varying opinions regarding where they’ll go and when they’ll hear their names called, word around the blogosphere is that teams aren’t as hesitant about drafting a guard as early as year’s passed.
Based on the comments of GM Martin Mayhew, the Detroit Lions could be one of those teams willing to spend a high draft pick on a guard.
“I think if you go back and look five, six years ago with the way the rookie contracts were structured, the idea of taking a guard that high just made no sense at all,” Mayhew told Justin Rodgers of MLive.com. “I think, if ever there was a time for a guard to go early, it would be this year with the caliber of the two guys that are coming out and with the way the rookie contracts are structured right now.”
The two guys that Mayhew is referring to are Chance Warmack of Alabama and Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina. Over the last couple of months, both have emerged as elite prospects of the 2013 draft class. While a guard hasn’t been drafted in the Top 10 since 1997, there’s a good chance that Warmack and Cooper could both be off the board by the time the Tennessee Titans have made their selection at No. 10.
The Lions are currently in possession of the fifth overall pick. The last two No. 5 picks have received four-year deals averaging about $18.5 million, a much more reasonable price for a top-tier guard than it would have been before the new CBA.
Both guards would make sense for the Lions, who have a hole at right guard heading into 2013. While it’s believed that their plan is to move tackle Riley Reiff inside, Detroit could snag Warmack or Cooper in the first round and keep Reiff at right tackle.
Whether it was hint, smokescreen or just commentary on the league’s perception of the value of this year’s guards, Mayhew’s words are intriguing. We’ll see what happens when the Lions are on the board at No. 5 when April 25 rolls around.