Detroit Lions fill a need in NFL draft

By Rob Parker - Sports Columnist
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DETROIT - The Lions didn't exactly get their man in the 2013 NFL Draft, but they certainly filled a need.

With the overall fifth pick on Thursday night, the Lions selected DE Ezekiel Ansah from BYU via Ghana.

Most thought the Lions would grab an offensive lineman, but the best ones were gone when it came time for the Lions to pick.

Some like the pick on Ansah because the Lions needed help upfront, especially with the loss of free agent DE Cliff Avril.

Others not so much because they think of Ansah as a project, someone that will take time before he can help the Lions.

The Lions, who lost eight straight games to end the season and missed the playoffs, need good players now.

Ansah, for sure, is gamble. 

"I have been playing this game for a few years," Ansah told the media after he was selected. "As for my weaknesses and my strengths...I'm willing to put in hard work."

Normally, a first round pick is expected to jump right in, have impact immediately and be penciled in for years to come.

But Ansah -- who first saw a football game in 2008 -- has limited football experience. He went to BYU with the hopes of playing college basketball. When he didn't make the squad, he turned to football. And his stats weren't that impressive with just 4.5 sacks.

Despite that, GM Martin Mayhew believes he's the right pick for the Lions.

"This is an amazing story," Mayhew said to the media.

Mayhew, after talking to his college head coach, said it was clear Ansah could help despite his lack of experience. "And the one thing he talked about with Ziggy is how much he loves the game, how much he loves to learn about the game, how much passion he has to learn about it," Mayhew said. "We've got the right coaches here to teach him about it."

Mayhew isn't alone. Former NFL executive Gil Brandt had high praise for Ansah, calling him the 'most incredible athlete he's ever seen.'

Pistons' head coach search

The Pistons are looking for a new coach after firing Lawrence Frank after the regular season ended.

And there are a few familiar names floating around, including former head coaches Nate McMillan and Stan Van Gundy.

Still, it's hard to imagine that the Pistons will do what the Cleveland Cavaliers did on Wednesday when they reach backed and rehired Mike Brown.

It's just seems crazy that Brown is back in Cleveland, where he was already fired by the same owner who currently still owns the team.

Brown's rehiring by owner Dan Gilbert is Exhibit A that NBA owners have lost their way when it comes to hiring coaches in this league.

It's time to stop with the retreads, time to bring fresh, new faces in the mix -- both from college and pro -- and more importantly, give these guys some time to develop into coaches.

The sad truth is that the same-cast-of-characters out there are bad. And except for Phil Jackson and Larry Brown -- both ancient in NBA years -- none have a championship in their back pocket.

Brian Shaw, a perfect example, is still waiting for his shot.

The Pistons will apparently talk with newcomer Lindsey Hunter, who got a taste of being a head coach in Phoenix this past season when he replaced Alvin Gentry.

You could almost, just almost, see an owner rehire a guy who won a championship for his franchise. Like when Phil Jackson returned to the Lakers in 2005.

But this? Nah. It doesn't feel good at all.

Yet, there's Gilbert trying to convince Cleveland fans on Twitter that they should buy into this new idea that was the old idea that Gilbert dumped just three seasons ago.

He linked Brown and Jackson's accomplishments together saying both are the only two coaches with at least five years experience that never missed the playoffs in their career.

Enter Lame Stat City.

"Not 'selling' boys and girls," Gilbert tweeted. "Just providing facts. You decide. Let's see how things roll next year and beyond. How many days until opening tip."

Funny because back in 2010, Gilbert said Brown's runs -- at least to the second run in each of his five years -- wasn't good enough.

 Just can't imagine the Pistons -- owner Tom Gores or president Joe Dumars -- pulling this stunt. Thanks Goodness.

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