Recent rumblings suggest that Jacksonville Jaguars' running back Maurice Jones-Drew is open to a trade. Will the Jaguars agree to deal their franchise runner who's in the midst of a hold out? The likelihood of that isn't great. Still, word that a top flight back could be available prior to the season should have perked Martin Mayhew's ears up. A move for Jones-Drew would help the Detroit Lions become an even bigger threat this year, and signing him would solidify the backfield for the foreseeable future while transforming Detroit into a dark horse candidate to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
There are several reasons the Lions should make this move. Three of the five listed here are serious while two are just for laughs. There's one undeniable fact, however. Jones-Drew is a top flight talent that any team in Detroit's position should take a hard look at, even if it meant giving up multiple early draft picks or reorganizing the salary structure.
5. Fantastic nickname potential. "MJ in the D," "Detroit Diesel" or "Mojo in the afternoon." Those are just some of the early possibilities I'd suggest, so I'll let you use your imagination for more. It's certain, though, that Jones-Drew would become an instant fan favorite worthy of nickname if he came to the Lions. The only thing more interesting than monikers for Jones-Drew? Finding out what the guy who is famously addicted to fantasy football would call his fantasy team if he was property of the Lions.
4. Smash and dash with James Bryant. Imagine Bryant, the physical fullback, leading the way for the equally as punishing yet quick Drew. It would be an interesting tandem to say the least, and would transform the Lions' rushing attack from non existent to physical and demanding in a hurry. Defenses would have a hard time keeping up and staying upright whenever Scott Linehan chose to run the ball. With Bryant on the roster bubble and chances of a Jones-Drew move slim, this scenario might seem impossible, but that's what speculation is for.
3. Plenty of organizational momentum from bringing in the best running back Detroit has seen since Barry Sanders. Martin Mayhew has worked miracles since taking over as general manager. He managed to get something for Roy Williams. He drafted Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh high while finding gems like DeAndre Levy and Willie Young late. It's clear the organization has improved its drafting, so losing a few early picks wouldn't hurt. Mayhew also made an excellent trade for Tony Scheffler. Bringing in Jones-Drew would be another cherry on top, and would be one more savvy trade which could help the team evolve once more. Best yet, the Lions organization would be hot in the wake of this move, and after making the playoffs last year, many would consider them an obvious top ten NFL team. Since James Stewart, the Lions have lacked an obvious workhorse at running back. This would eliminate that revolving door.
2. Help for Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure. There's no guarantee Best is going to be a consistent difference maker with a history of concussions. Leshoure had legal problems, and has been fighting injuries early in his career as well. It's not easy to say that either will be a viable NFL running back despite their youth. Even if the Lions ended up with Jones-Drew, they could have an impressive tandem to throw at teams with three excellent backs. Each could help the others stay healthy and form a trio that would be tough to match.
1. The Lions need a top flight running back to evolve their offense. If anyone could run the ball consistently and grind out yards, the Lions' offense would take the next step to become great. Adding Jones-Drew would put the team over the top in this department, and the workhorse back would add another dimension to an already explosive offense. Teams would have to stack the box and value the run. If that happened, imagine the extra damage Detroit's receivers could do. This isn't even to mention Jones-Drew's value as a receiver out of the backfield. Suddenly, the Lions' attack would become multi-faceted and even more dangerous.
Clearly, the Lions need Jones-Drew, and he might quietly need them just as much. For a team seeking one missing piece and a player in his prime that should be looking for a contender on the cusp, this is a match made in football heaven.
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