Aside from whether you believe/don’t believe general manager Nick Caserio can mastermind a solid draft ripe with home run high round picks, having #2 in current context might be even better than having #1. How is that so, you ask? Well, here’s the current projected draft order:
1. Detroit Lions (0-10-1)
Average draft position: 1.3
FPI chance to earn No. 1 pick: 77.9%
FPI chance to earn top-five pick: 99.8%
2. Houston Texans (2-9)
Average draft position: 2.6
FPI chance to earn No. 1 pick: 13.0%
FPI chance to earn top-five pick: 97.4%
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9)
Average draft position: 3.1
FPI chance to earn No. 1 pick: 7.5%
FPI chance to earn top-five pick: 95.2%
4. New York Jets (3-8)
Average draft position: 4.1
FPI chance to earn No. 1 pick: 1.4%
FPI chance to earn top-five pick: 85.5%
Average draft position: 7.4
FPI chance to earn No. 1 pick: <0.1%
FPI chance to earn top-five pick: 33.4%
Take note that the Lions are dug into the top pick like a tick on a hunting dog. These are the same Detroit Lions who have drafted high since their rebuild started after the 1957 NFL Championship Game. Clearly, they haven’t, don’t currently, and likely never will understand how to draft the best available players.
List of Detroit Lions first round picks since 2009
Other than Stafford and Suh (both no longer with the Lions), this isn't exactly a list of superstar, franchise-altering players. Now, since the #1 pick in the draft gets the most money, occupies a hefty part of the salary cap, and isn't always a surefire hit, having the Lions pick ahead of Houston might just be a blessing in disguise.
Maybe Detroit will draft Derrick Stingley Jr., a player with a LOT of question marks around him yet still touted by many as a top tier draft pick. The Lions are also not likely to take a quarterback, leaving the Texans the pick of that litter if they so choose.
There are also a large number of linemen in the top of the draft; Detroit might just take one, based on their recent trends. This would leave Houston with a long term starter on the offensive or defensive line if Nick Caserio plays this right.
Guys like Kayvon Thibodeaux, Evan Neal, and Aidan Hutchinson are as certain as anyone else to anchor a line for a long time. On paper, at least.
The only downside to this is Caserio spent his first ever Texans draft pick on Davis Mills. So far, Mills has done a whole lot of nothing to convince anyone that he was a great pick. Justin Reid, also taken in the third round, was a much better pick than Mills. Reid won’t be a Texan once free agency starts.
However, in Mills’s defense, it’s hard to tell if any of the new Texans have any potential with the current coaching staff and team leadership doing their best to get the whole franchise to drink the Kool-aid spiked with the Easterby Effect. Let’s face it: Tank-a-palooza is a tough place for talent evaluation.
I suppose we’ll always have this: