|Passes Broken Up
Travis Long is not as athletic as many of the other linebackers in the draft, but like all the other greats that were less athletic, he makes up for it with relentless effort and solid technique. His injury has clearly dropped him on the overall board, but he still shows a 3rd/4th round grade on many team boards. If he goes lower than that he’ll be an absolute steal, and honestly he may be an afterthought on the first and second days.
Other players at his position look more athletic on tape and are going to be a more “sexy” pick to a team who didn’t get to evaluate Long in person. He’s a player that really could have used a Combine appearance to secure a spot in the early to mid 3rd round if healthy, but such is life sometimes. Somebody will understand what he brings to the table once NFL camps roll around, at the very least. For now he’ll just be hoping that he doesn’t slip past the 4th.
Dec 22, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (90) reacts to the snap of ball against the Atlanta Falcons during the 2nd half at Ford Field. Falcon won 31-18. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Stacked Against the Pick:
Travis Long and Detroit match up on paper but the Lions have too many problems and not enough draft picks. The Lions hold the 5th overall pick and in mock drafts, have selected just about every consensus top 10 talent sans quartbacks. If they go with an offensive tackle in the first, they’ll target defense in the 2nd and vice versa. They only have 6 picks this year and the chances of Travis Long being one of them hinge on what they do with their first two picks.
As I mentioned, Detroit and Long are a match on paper. Long can play both outside linebacker or rush end, both are a priority for the Lions. The Lions ranked 20th in the league for sacks in 2012, and not a single player broke double digits. DE Cliff Avril led the team with 9.5 sacks, while 34 year old DE Kyle Vanden Bosch was released after tallying just 3.5 sacks.
Clearly Detroit needs some help rushing the QB and Long could be a tremendous value pick for the Lions if he is still on the board in the 5th round.
Likelihood of Getting Drafted by Detroit:
The Lions could use an influx of talent on the defensive side of the ball. The linebacker core is decent, with Tulloch and Durant both raking up over 100 tackles a piece. The defensive line needs help on the ends and should be a priority for them in the draft.
F (1st through 4th rounds)
B+ (5th through 7th rounds) If Travis is still on the board, his versatility to play rush end and OLB should be hard to pass on.