The big boys ruled the night Thursday.
The most talent and depth of any position heading into the draft was along the offensive line. That fact was cemented early Thursday when six of the first 11 picks were offensive linemen.
This is the first time in NFL Draft history that four offensive lineman have been taken within the first seven picks.
With the draft devoid of high-end skill players who can change a franchise, the big men ruled the day as the safest picks in the draft.
Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel and Lane Johnson – the consensus top three tackles available – went No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 overall, respectively.
Fisher was taken first overall, becoming the fourth offensive lineman drafted first overall, joining Ron Yary (1968), Orlando Pace (1997) and Jake Long (2008).
Wide receiver Tavon Austin was the first skill player taken with the eighth pick overall by the Rams. It’s the latest that the first “skill” player has gone off the board since 1991 when former Detroit Lions Herman Moore was selected 10th overall.
One of those top three tackles would have certainly been in the mix for the Lions had they fallen to No. 5. Instead, the Lions chose to select athletic defense end Ziggy Ansah at another position of need.
“We have a long way to go,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said when asked after the Ansah pick if he’s content with the offensive line. “We drafted Riley Reiff last year. We have a lot of confidence in Riley. Riley played a game for us, started a game for us last year and did a good job there. He looks better this year than he did last year.
“You know, we have other young players across the front line and we still got a lot of Draft to go.”
Currently, just eight players make up the Lions’ offensive line.
In all, nine offensive lineman were drafted in the first 32 picks (five tackles, three guards and a center).
Only one quarterback (EJ Manuel) was taken in the first round and no running back was taken in the first round for the first time since 1963.
It’s easy to see where the value is lining up in this draft and the Lions could in the mix to pick up an offensive lineman of their own in the second or third rounds on Friday.
A couple names to consider at tackle would be Menelik Watson (Florida State) and Terron Armstead (Arkansas –Pine Bluff).
A number of good guard and center prospects remain on the board in Larry Warford (Kentucky), Brian Winters (Kent State), Brian Schwenke (California) and Barrett Jones (Alabama).
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