Lions still planning on signing No. 1 pick before draft

The Detroit Lions fully plan on signing the No. 1 pick before the NFL draft kicks off on Saturday. Who that No. 1 pick will be is the question.

Martin MayhewGeneral manager Martin Mayhew said today the Lions are “moving forward on getting something done” and there is a “very good” chance they will sign the No. 1 overall pick before the NFL draft starts Saturday.

“That was our plan,” Mayhew said at his pre-draft news conference. “We talked about that back at the Combine. That’s very important, and we plan on getting something done prior to making that selection.”

Mayhew said the list of candidates has “narrowed down pretty dramatically.” But he declined to name the candidates or discuss specifics.

The Lions have been talking to the agents for Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, Baylor left tackle Jason Smith and Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry.

Negotiations are more complex this year because of new rules relating to the last year of the salary cap. The Lions started preliminary negotiations with candidates in March.

Mayhew said the Lions could agree to the parameters of a deal with multiple players, but ultimately, they would agree to a deal with one player. He said they would make an announcement shortly after agreeing to terms.

This is nothing new – the Lions have said all along that they wanted to sign the No. 1 pick before the draft. But what is getting ever more interesting is the fact that this pick remains as much of a financial decision as it does drafting the right player. And if this is a financial decision for the Lions, then Aaron Curry should be their pick.

Curry is the best prospect in the draft, he would be cheaper than Stafford or Smith and he fills a need for Detroit. The only drawback in taking him No. 1 (besides the massive need at quarterback), is the fact that the Lions already have a decent amount of money wrapped up in their linebacker corps already, with former top 10 pick Ernie Sims and newly acquired Julian Peterson on the roster. Plus, even though scouts believe he can play inside, would Curry’s best position be at middle linebacker? Because that’s where he would play for the Lions.

But again, if the Lions are really putting a lot of stock into the financial hit that they’re about to take then Curry should be their guy.

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Lions meet with Baylor OT Jason Smith

The Lions recently sat down and talked with Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith.

Jason SmithThe Lions took a break from free-agent visits Monday to meet with college prospect Jason Smith, an offensive tackle from Baylor who’s among a handful of players vying to be the No. 1 overall selection in April’s draft.

Smith arrived in Detroit on Sunday and spent most of Monday in Allen Park meeting with front-office officials and coaches.

Teams are limited to 30 private visits at their own facilities before the draft. So the Lions, with five picks among the first 82, including two first-rounders, figure to host other top candidates the coming weeks. Most draft prospects have yet to take part in pro-day workouts at their college campuses.

Despite popular belief, if a team meets with a prospect before the draft it usually is a red flag that they won’t be selecting that player. Obviously that’s not the case every single time, but teams usually don’t like to tip their hand as to which prospects they have their eyes on, so they’ll avoid those players like the plague.

But the Lions realistically have their eye on their players: Smith, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Curry. Now, there could be a sleeper prospect that people are overlooking (Eugene Monroe maybe?), but those appear to be the three players that Detroit is focusing on. That said, it would behoove them to meet with all of those players since they have the No. 1 pick. Nobody selects in front of them in the first round, so it doesn’t make sense to try and throw other teams off. Plus, the Lions have said this entire time that they will negotiate a deal with the player that they will select before the draft. So who knows – maybe Smith is the pick.

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