Lions don't have bargaining power, No. 1 pick's about football
It's a good move for the Lions to begin contract dialogue with their top couple choices for the No. 1 overall pick. It should help them get a deal done before the draft and eliminate all the July hand-wringing that comes with a possible holdout. But don't think for a second that gives the Lions a leg up in the bargaining process.
Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford and Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith are logically the top players on the Lions' draft board. Both play premium positions, both would fill immense areas of need, and both are represented by the same CAA Football agency.
Stafford and Smith have different agents Stafford signed with Tom Condon, Smith with Ben Dogra and Michael Lartigue and they have their own financial interests in having their client go No. 1. But to think the Lions will be able to play one against the other is naïve. Stafford and his people will know exactly where the Lions stand with Smith, and vice versa.
Now maybe the Lions' flirtation with Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji as the No. 1 pick is serious I tend to think he's more an option if they trade down a few spots (interesting side bar: Raji has the same agent as Mark Sanchez) and maybe Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry is still in the mix, though as of Tuesday night the Lions had not opened contract dialogue with his agent Andy Ross.
But as it stands now, unless there's meddling from above, it looks like the Lions will make their first choice in April's draft based on football reasons and football reasons alone. That's a good thing. (Usually.)