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Detroit Lions 2011 Draft Preview

By Scott Garbarini, NFL Editor

(Sports Network) - The Lions have put together two strong drafts under the tandem of head coach Jim Schwartz and general manager Martin Mayhew, but this year's edition may be a more challenging one for the duo. After selecting near the top of rounds in both 2009 and 2010, Detroit will choose near the midway point following last year's four-win improvement, and presently only has six selections after trading away a sixth-rounder to Seattle for reserve defensive end Lawrence Jackson in August. Cornerback and offensive tackle figure to be positions the Lions will focus on in the first round, as the team lacks a bona fide shutdown cover man and has age and injury issues on the offensive line, with left tackle Jeff Backus entering his 11th season and right-side starter Gosder Cherilus' health a question mark after microfracture knee surgery. Look for Detroit to target outside linebackers, where two starters are needed, on the second day and search later on for a running back to rotate with 2010 first-rounder Jahvid Best. Even with the heavy investments the Lions have made in wide receivers in recent years, adding a No. 3 wideout with speed would serve an up-and-coming offense well.

2010 Record: 6-10

Top Needs: OLB, CB, WR

First Three Picks: No. 13, No. 44, No. 75

Number of Selections: 6 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7)

RECENT FIRST ROUND HISTORY: 2010 - Ndamukong Suh (DT, Nebraska), Jahvid Best (RB, California); 2009 - Matthew Stafford (QB, Georgia), Brandon Pettigrew (TE, Oklahoma State); 2008 - Gosder Cherilus (OT, Boston College); 2007 - Calvin Johnson (WR, Georgia Tech); 2006 - Ernie Sims (LB, Florida State); 2005 - Mike Williams (WR, USC); 2004 - Roy Williams (WR, Texas), Kevin Jones (RB, Virginia Tech); 2003 - Charles Rogers (WR, Michigan State); 2002 - Joey Harrington (QB, Oregon); 2001 - Jeff Backus (OT, Michigan).

04/22 11:30:31 ET