NFL power rankings: Detroit Lions closing in on top-10 pick, don’t pull a Paul Pierce

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
 
| Detroit Free Press

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Lamar Jackson did not pull a Paul Pierce on Monday Night Football, and hopefully neither did you when you realized the Detroit Lions were headed for a top-10 draft pick for the third straight year.

Currently, the Lions sit 11th in the projected draft order, but as one of 10 four- or five-win teams — and one of only three who don’t play another team with five or fewer victories the rest of the season — they are guaranteed to move up if they lose their remaining three games.

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I’ve never been a proponent of tanking, at least not when the No. 1 overall pick is not in play, and I certainly am not endorsing that strategy now. The New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals are all but locked into the top three picks, and the Lions will be hard-pressed in any scenario to crack the top five.

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But the odds do favor the Lions losing out, starting with Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans. And if that happens, they will have earned the dubious distinction of having a top-10 pick for the third straight draft.

That’s grosser than Pierce’s shorts during the 2008 NBA Finals if you stop and think about, but there is a silver lining that’s worth mentioning.

The Lions have had top-10 picks in at least three consecutive years twice before during the Super Bowl era, and both runs netted them a superstar.

The Lions earned top-10 picks in six straight seasons from 2002-07, the last of which they used on soon-to-be Hall of Fame receiver Calvin Johnson.

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Before that, the Lions had five straight top-10 choices in 1987-91. Some of those picks formed the core of the best Lions teams since the 1950s, including Herman Moore, Bennie Blades and Barry Sanders.

So perhaps the Lions land a future star with their first-round pick this year, or maybe they already have one in recent first-rounders T.J. Hockenson and Jeff Okudah.

I guess, another scenario could be in play, that the Lions have more top-10 picks coming in future drafts. But there’s no reason to dwell on worst-case scenarios right now, just like there’s no reason to doubt Jackson’s story, right?

This week’s power rankings

1. Chiefs (12-1)

2. Packers (10-3)

3. Bills (10-3)

4. Saints (10-3)

5. Steelers (11-2)

6. Seahawks (9-4)

7. Titans (9-4)

8. Browns (9-4)

9. Colts (9-4)

10. Rams (9-4)

11. Ravens (8-5)

12. Dolphins (8-5) 

13. Buccaneers (8-5)

14. Cardinals (7-6)

15. Raiders (7-6)

16. Vikings (6-7)

17. Washington (6-7)

18. Patriots (6-7)

19. Bears (6-7)

20. 49ers (5-8)

21. Giants (5-8)

22. Lions (5-8)

23. Broncos (5-8)

24. Texans (4-9)

25. Eagles (4-8-1)

26. Panthers (4-9)

27. Cowboys (4-9)

28. Chargers (4-9)

29. Falcons (4-9)

30. Bengals (2-10-1)

31. Jaguars (1-12)

32. Jets (0-13)

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. 

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