Lions need to draft CB, not WR

Detroit needs an upgrade opposite Calvin Johnson -- just not in the first round

Updated: February 24, 2014, 1:58 PM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider

Calvin JohnsonAndrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsCalvin Johnson is a dominant receiver, but he needs some more help in Detroit.
Detroit Lions fans have to be in a bit of a quandary right now. The team has registered only two winning seasons in this century and is on its eighth head coach in that time frame, yet the Lions look to be only a building block or two away from being a bona fide playoff contender.

One of those potential building blocks is at wide receiver in Calvin Johnson, which is where Detroit's draft dilemma comes in. Since 1998, Detroit has had one major draft success at that position (Johnson in the first round of the 2007 draft) and many major disappointments in both the first round (Charles Rogers and Mike Williams) and the second round (Germane Crowell and Titus Young).

That is why there is understandable trepidation that the Lions could invest the No. 10 pick in a wide receiver (as is projected in Todd McShay's latest mock) and may drive fans to hope the team goes in a different direction with that pick (Mel Kiper's latest mock has the Lions selecting Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert).

This leads to the question: What do the metrics and game tape say the Lions should do with this first pick? Is taking a wideout the way to go or should shoring up the secondary rank higher on the list? Let's take a look at the pros and cons of each approach to find the answer.

Taking a wide receiver at No. 10

Pros

The productivity drop-off from Johnson to the rest of the Lions' pass-catchers is gargantuan.

According to my tape research, Megatron posted 10.1 yards per attempt (YPA) on 146 targets last season and posted double-digit YPA totals on vertical (10.5 YPA on throws 11 or more yards downfield) and stretch vertical targets (10.6 YPA on aerials thrown 20 or more yards downfield). He also nearly reached the double-digit YPA mark on short targets (9.4 YPA on passes thrown 10 or fewer yards downfield).