As his team gets set for the NFL Draft, Jim Schwartz remains committed to keeping discipline issues in-house and drafting the best available player on the board.
In a recent interview in Allen Park, Schwartz told me he had concerns about the marijuana-related incidents that have marred the offseason.
Nick Fairley, Mikel Leshoure and Johnny Culbreath, all drafted last year, were either cited or arrested for marijuana possession in recent months.
"That's something that we really don't talk about," said Schwartz. "I know everybody's interested in it. Just like when we have players who have discipline issues during the season, or things like that, there's a reason you do things behind closed doors.
"Obviously, we're very concerned about situations that have come up. We've addressed them - not only with the players they've occurred with, but with other players, to try to make sure things don't happen in the future and they learn from other people's mistakes. As far as letting people on the inside and how we handle it, no - I really don't have any interest at all or any intention at all of letting people know how we handle that."
With his team positioned to pick 23rd in the first round, Schwartz described the mood in the Lions war room.
"It's an exciting time," said Schwartz. "There's so much uncertainty that goes on unless you're picking #1 or maybe #2. It's a little bit like a game of chess. After the first couple of moves everything can go in so many different directions and you'll be prepared for so many different things."
This will be the fourth year Schwartz will sit in the war room with general manager Martin Mayhew, team president Tom Lewand and members of the scouting staff and player personnel department. Their previous three drafts have yielded talented contributors highlighted by Matthew Stafford, Louis Delmas, Ndamukong Suh and Titus Young.
This year's challenge will be different, as they'll have to wait until the bottom half of the first round to make their first selection.
"It starts way back the previous year with our scouts," said Schwartz. "This is just sort of the culmination of the draft process. We're really not in the middle of it. We're really at the end of it. If you've done your homework over the course of the whole semester, if you've kept up with the syllabus and handed in all your stuff on time the the final exam isn't real stressful."
In each of the last three years, the Lions have made selections that caught fans by surprise. Picking tight end Brandon Pettigrew in the first round in 2009, for example, didn't seem to address an immediate need, but it fell directly in line with the philosophy Mayhew and Schwartz firmly believe in.
"What looks like a need in week one, maybe doesn't look like a need when you get to the end of the season," said Schwartz. "Take us last year - we draft Mikel Leshoure, we have Jahvid Best. It looks like a really, really good one-two punch. We have very specific roles for both of those players. Both of them are young.
"We lose one the first week in training camp. We lose one the fifth week of the season. All of a sudden we're on plan C, D and E when it comes to running back. You would have never thought that was a position of need coming in, but it turned out to be once you got into the season.
"If you take the approach of always working on your perceived needs, you're sometimes chasing the rabbit that's already gone."
As for any advice Schwartz might have for fans as they watch the draft?
"Just because a player is publicized, just because the people in the media in their mock drafts have him high, or don't have him high, doesn't mean that NFL people look at it the same way," said Schwartz. "It's just as important to match talent with a scheme that a player fits in. Not every player fits in every scheme.
"And being able to have a plan for that player. That means every bit as much as what a player's talent is and the way that player's talent transfers and translates to the NFL."
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