The Lions’ potential dilemma: Suh vs. Haynesworth

There’s growing speculation that the Lions might part with a draft pick or two in order to acquire Albert Haynesworth from the Redskins. The compensation in the deal from the Lions’ standpoint has been rumored to be anything from their first round pick, to a better cell phone plan for Daniel Snyder.

But why would the Lions want Haynesworth when they will likely have the opportunity to draft Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh with the second overall pick tomorrow night?

Some pundits believe that the Lions will take Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy over Suh at No. 2, but that’s crazy talk. McCoy is a fine player, but he’s not Suh. McCoy racked up 83 tackles, 33 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks in three seasons at OU. Suh nearly matched that production last year alone, so let’s stop with the comparisons already. If the Lions intend on drafting a defensive tackle at No. 2, then they’re going with Suh over McCoy and I’m willing to risk my extremely low blogging reputation on it.

With that out of the way, I can get to my point. Haynesworth is still owed $9 million in guaranteed money, but will the Redskins try to get the Lions (or any trade partner for that matter) to help out with the $21 million in guarantees they just forked over a couple weeks ago? At 28, he’s in his prime and is still highly regarded as the best pass-rushing defensive tackle in the league. When he’s healthy and motivated, he can sometimes be a one man wrecking crew from the interior of a team’s defensive line.

But would he be worth the money in the long run? As he ages, his play will only decline and the Lions aren’t exactly ready to make a Super Bowl run right now. This wouldn’t be like the Packers (a team on the rise) adding a bona fide player to their defense in order to make a championship run in 2010. Detroit is still years away from competing, which is why Suh is the better long-term investment.

There are no guarantees in the draft – everyone knows that. For as good as Suh looked at Nebraska, there’s still a very real possibility that he could be a flop in the NFL. But he has everything pro scouts look for in a player: Size, athleticism and most importantly, a good football IQ. Will the Lions have to pay him close to $10 million a year for the next five years? Yeah. But he can take his time developing and be a part of the Lions’ long-term future and comes with less baggage as well.

Another thing is that the Lions need to hang onto their draft picks. If they’re going to be making deals on draft day, they need to be acquiring more selections instead of parting with them. Don’t forget that this is a roster severely devoid of talent. And given his contract, his penchant for being a malcontent, and the fact that they would have to part with draft picks in order to acquire him, the Lions should pass on Haynesworth.

Suh is the future – and likely the brighter one, too.


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