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jbombul
06-18-2007, 12:00 AM
The running joke in the months leading up to the draft was that Matt Millen would probably take another wide receiver at #2 overall but few thought he'd actually do it after spending Top 10 picks in three of the last four years on that position. Well, he shocked the world and did it again but the question now becomes was it the right move? The Lions had a good draft last year which seemingly put them on the right track but they're still very much in the midst of a rebuilding project so it's essential that they draft well and this class will go a long way toward determining just how big of a step forward or backwards they take in '07.

Early in the draft process the Lions let it be known that they wanted to trade down from the #2 pick and the object of their affection appeared to be Gaines Adams since the team needed a stud defensive end and he was eerily similar to Simeon Rice, who head coach Rod Marinelli had in Tampa Bay. In the week before the draft the two most likely scenarios appeared to be a deal with Tampa at #4, where they could land Adams, or perhaps Atlanta at #8, where they would likely have targeted Patrick Willis, but low and behold the team shifted gears and ended up taking Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson, the consensus best player in the draft at #2 overall. Johnson was certainly worthy of the pick and he'll be an upgrade for them but did the team really want to select him there or did Matt Millen simply overplay his hand and demand too much in trade dicussions? Granted everyone would like to get a monster package of Day One picks and future #1's, especially for a rare prospect like Johnson, but the bottom line is that the pick is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it and if Millen could have gotten a couple of 2nd round picks to move down two spots and still landed Adams that is probably the route he should have gone. The Lions are now stacked at wideout and Johnson will likely team with Roy Williams in the starting lineup with Mike Furrey, who caught 98 balls last year, moving to the slot and guys like Shaun McDonald and Marcus Robinson providing depth. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz now has plenty of weapons to work with and with a questionable running game and offensive line Detroit might be airing it out a lot in 2007.

After trading down a bit the Lions brought in their quarterback of the future when they selected Michigan State's Drew Stanton with the first of three second round picks. A talented player who was just a notch below Brady Quinn in terms of prospect status coming into his senior year, Stanton's 2006 season (and basically his entire college career) was plagued by inconsistency with him looking like an early first round pick one quarter and an undrafted free agent the next. Physically Stanton has all the tools and talent to outperform his draft slot and he'll likely be brought along slowly in Detroit, probably starting out as the #3 signal caller behind Jon Kitna and Dan Orlovsky. If Martz can get Stanton to play with some consistency the team might finally have its long-term solution under center but there is just as good of a chance that they will be dipping their toes back into the quarterback waters a couple years from now because Stanton is really the definition of a boom or bust prospect. With their next pick Marinelli finally got his defensive end when the Lions selected Hawaii's Ikaika Alama-Francis, who was one of the most intriguing players in the draft. A former basketball player who walked on to the football team, Francis is still very raw but he's a fantastic athlete with a great frame whose upside is through the roof. I felt Francis might fit in best in a 3-4 scheme and he reminds me a lot of Luis Castillo but with Cory Redding moving inside to tackle on a full-time basis he should eventually give Kalimba Edwards a run for his money to see who starts opposite free agent acquisition Dewayne White.

With their final second round pick Detroit reached for Boise St. safety Gerald Alexander, a workout warrior who was probably more of a mid-rounder. A great athlete with a 41-inch vertical leap, Alexander played cornerback his first three years in college and just moved to safety as a senior but he showed enough in that one season to capture the imaginations of pro scouts. Alexander has the speed to hold his own in coverage and is physical enough to come up and support the run so the potential is there for him to be an all-around performer at the safety position and it might not be long before he is starting alongside last year's second round pick Daniel Bullocks. With Dre' Bly being dealt away their depth at cornerback took a hit so the Lions tried to replenish their talent base by selecting North Carolina State's A.J. Davis in round three. A good natural athlete who was a top recruit coming out of high school, Davis probably profiles as more of a backup in the pros but should be a decent fit in the Lions zone coverage scheme.

After adding George Foster and Edwin Mulitalo earlier in the offseason the Lions took another step towards upgrading their porous offensive line by selecting Texas Tech guard Manuel Ramirez in round three. A classic mauler with outstanding size, phenomental strength and a nasty demeanor, Ramirez will begin his career in a backup role but could step into the starting lineup should Mulitalo or Damien Woody falter. In round five Detroit reached for linebacker Johnny Baldwin of Alabama A&M, a sleeper who could very easily have gone undrafted. Baldwin certainly has the speed and athleticism that the team looks for but with a bunch of young linebackers already on the roster he'll have trouble breaking into the two deep and will likely be forced to make a name for himself on special teams as a rookie. With their final pick in round seven the Lions added another corner when they chose Ramzee Robinson of Alabama, a guy who I felt was underrated. An experienced coverman with adequate physical tools, Robinson won't ever be a star but could certainly make a roster and you can't discount his ability to contribute as a return man on special teams either.

Let me reiterate that I have no problem with Calvin Johnson going #2 overall and I really don't even have an issue with the Lions taking him, even though you could make the case that wideout was the one position where they didn't need help. Where I take exception with the choice is I don't believe that selecting Johnson is what the team wanted to do. That is over and done with now though and the bottom line is that the Lions now have a dynamic offensive weapon to build around so even though some of their other picks left something to be desired Johnson alone is enough to earn this class a solid grade. However, this effort probably isn't going to provide the type of instant impact this franchise needs to show a marked improvement in 2007 which means it could be at least one more rough year in the Motor City and I have a feeling Millen won't be at the helm a year from now to draft yet another wideout in round one. Or will he...

GRADE: B-

Notredameleo
06-18-2007, 03:17 PM
Booooooooooooooooooo

Addict
06-19-2007, 03:07 AM
nah he's right. I think a realistic and fair grade.

Notredameleo
06-20-2007, 08:22 AM
I know i just like to disagree.

TacticaLion
06-20-2007, 09:30 AM
I know i just like to disagree.Haha... friggin +1 for honesty.

I think it was a fair grade. We "reached" in the eyes of many and STILL pulled off a B-. I love the picks (yes, it's true), but I can see why others are skeptical.