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Detroit Lions head into a rare draft with a low draft pick, price of success

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ALLEN PARK, Michigan — The Detroit Lions, owners of the 23rd overall pick in next week's NFL draft, are putting the finishing touches on their plans and draft board.

Martin Mayhew is entering his eighth draft as the team's general manager — and this is just the second time in his tenure that the team's first-round pick is outside the top 20. The Lions have picked in the top 10 each of the last two years, but dropped this year after reaching the playoffs with an 11-5 record.

"I think 10 is somewhat more predictable," Mayhew said. "In the first 10, you can figure out 10 quality players that you think will be taken. At 23, you start to stretch it a little bit. It's a little harder to predict who will be there."

Mayhew said Friday that he and his team are "95 percent done," with their draft board, with a few players still left to talk about and meetings to be had with coaches, personnel and team ownership.

"It certainly is a strong draft in some of the areas we may be looking in," Mayhew said. "You never know how it's going to fall. There may be a lot of guys who go early that we would like to have. Every draft is different. One thing I have learned about this process is that is very unpredictable. You have to prepare for everything."

Mayhew did not want to go into specifics about the draft, but some position groups need more help than others. The Lions may look to add offensive linemen, defensive linemen (now that Detroit has to replace Ndamukong Suh), cornerbacks and offensive playmakers.

At offensive line, the Lions are looking to build around starters Riley Reiff, Larry Warford and Travis Swanson. Mayhew confirmed Friday that Detroit will exercise the fifth-year option on Reiff's contract.

"It's a very strong group of linemen (in the draft), especially at guard and tackle," Mayhew said. "There are some guys with position flexibility, which we like. I have always said that versatility within that group is very important. You're only going to dress seven guys, so a guy who can play center and guard or guard and tackle certainly gives him a lot more value."

There are some potential offensive skill players that could come into play in the first round, like Todd Gurley, who Mayhew called "an outstanding prospect." But the general manager also believes this Lions could find value later in the draft.

"This draft is very deep at wide receiver and running back," Mayhew said. "There are some really quality players, some impact players, that will be there after the first round."

NOTES: Mayhew briefly discussed the situation with offensive lineman Rodney Austin, who was released by the team after being arrested on assault charges.

"I found out that he had a domestic violence incident last Thursday," he said. "I wanted to sit down and talk to him about that. I talked to him and decided that the best thing for us to do was to move on from him. I told him that I'm not closing the door. Until he gets his legal issues resolved, I thought the best thing to do for us as a franchise was to move on."

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