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MI_Buckeye
05-28-2011, 07:47 AM
Detroit Lions

Where did the franchise stand before the draft?

As Scott always qualifies himself when talking about the Vikings, I must inform you that, while I live in the Detroit area, I am not a diehard Lions fan.

You can imagine why.

The eight years that felt like eighty of the Matt Millen era are more well-documented than a Soviet spy.

Joey Harrington. Charles Rogers. Mike Williams. Ernie Sims.

Mohrninweg. Mariucci. Marinelli.

No pass protection. No defense. No running game. An utter inability to hold onto even the most comfortable leads on the rare opportunities when you were able to build one.

And that's just scratching the surface. Yes, Mustachio Matt was able to accomplish something truly special in the Motor City, a decade of work that will likely never be repeated in NFL history. On his journey he took the Lions from medocrity to utter futility to 0-16. Way to go Matt!

Now that Matt is spreading vast expertise on how to build a successful football team with his 26 broadcasting jobs (quick question: How does ABC find it remotely tasteful to have him broadcasting Big Ten games, let alone the Michigan-Michigan State game?) the Lions have had to suffer through two and a half years of competence under Millen's old right-hand man (Millen must have been an amputee) Martin Mayhew and Head Coach Jim Scwartz.

In two years, the new Lions management has built the core of what is starting to look like a football team. Despite missing most of last season, former No. 1 overall pick QB Matthew Stafford looked great in the games he did play last season and has all the tools to be an elite passer. 2010 No. 2 overall Ndamukong Suh might already be the best defensive lineman in the league.

Consider that most of the other draft picks, like Brandon Pettigrew, Louis Delmas, Deandre Levy, etc. have panned out, and there is reason why Detroit has one of the most optimistic fan bases in the NFL. Heck, with another season finishing outside the bottom ten, the Lions might take over the Red Wings as the most relevant sports franchise in the city.

Unfortunately, the harsh truth is the bridge is far from complete. Detroit still has gaping holes all over the roster. Defensively, the back seven has probably two legitimate NFL starters. The offensive line, while they played better last year, has been the punching bag of fans and commentators for years. The running game needs a true bellcow, and the WR corps is woefully thin.

It is a lot to take on, but just imagine where they would be without two excellent drafts the last two years.

The Picks

Round One, Pick 13: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

Think about this. The Lions now have the last two college defensive players of the year at the same position. That should translate pretty well.

All I can say is that the Lions must have had Fairley VERY high on their board, because DT was without question the most solid position on the team heading into the draft.

Schematically, it is a great fit. Fairley is ultra-quick, light on his feet and has been known to not deal with physicality all that well. That will be just fine as he works next to Ndominant. He will play the three technique and be a pure penetrator in a classic over-under front.

There are a million directions the Lions could have gone here, and this was a good one. Suh can obviously still make an impact on the game playing the thicker of the two tackle positons, but oversized Corey Williams and Sammie Lee Hill aren't ever going to be dominating penetrators who benefit from the double teams Suh commands.

CB was far and away Detroit's biggest need, and Prince was still there, but Fairley is the more highly-valued player. The Lions have been trying to fill holes for years. It is about time they just focus on being dominant in something.

Round Two, Pick 44: Titus Young, WR, Boise State

An interesting pick that makes more sense after you digest it a little.

The Lions effectively have two WRs under contract through next season, Megatron and Nate Burleson. That was pretty much all they had last season too.

Young is explosive with strong hands and should fill in in the slot immediately. He was a big-play threat at Boise State last season who could create both down the field and after the catch. Outside of Calvin Johnson, Detroit has had no down the field threat since trading Roy Williams to the Cowboys.

Young also might be the best return man in the draft, which means return specialist Stefan Logan might have to fight just to keep his job after a terrific season last year.

This pick should tell you Detroit doesn't like this year's CB class.

Round Two, Pick 57 (from Seattle): Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois

This was the pick I thought they should have made earlier in the round, so obviously I think Leshoure is great value here.

Detroit has been among the worst running teams in the league for years, and outside of a very brief period with Kevin Jones, they haven't had a true No.1 back since Barry Sanders. The Lions spent a first round pick on Jahvid Best last season, but he is an electrifying, dual threat guy, not a 25 carry a game bell cow.

For a 230-pound back, Leshoure has stunning agility and burst. He is a patient runner too who lets plays develop before exploding through a hole. He is not a blazer or a thumper, but he doesn't need to be; his skill set is similar to that of Stephen Jackson.

I thought Leshoure was considerably better than Ryan Williams who went almost 20 picks earlier.

Round Five, Pick 157: Doug Hogue, OLB, Syracuse

It is not usually a good thing when you draft a guy in the fifth round and are expecting him to start right away, but I think that is the case with Hogue.

A solidly built former RB, Hogue looks like a fit on the weakside, where he should compete with Ashley Palmer. Hogue should contribute as a core special teams player as well.

Round Seven, Pick 209: Johnny Culbreath, OT, South Carolina State

Culbreath only weighs around 270 pounds, but racked up two FCS all-America honors and is a good fit in Detroit's stretch zone scheme. He is clearly a developmental prospect at this point who would probably be best served on the practice squad.

All in all

The Lions have won the draft in post-draft media analysis, and they did come away with three immediate impact players.

However, for all their needs, a five player class just isn't what you're looking for. This is a team severely lacking in overall depth and can't afford any injuries at this point if they plan on competing for a playoff spot this upcoming season.
I give them credit for trusting their board and not reaching for need, but the reality remains they still have huge holes in the back seven and an offensive line that remains a question mark. You can't keep trotting Jeff Backus out the on the blindside and expect Matthew Stafford to remain clean, I don't care how well Backus played last year. He is getting up there in age and hasn't been a good player for them over the course of his career.

The Lions did succeed in sending a message that they are not afraid of gambling on greatness at the possible expense of leaving themselves vulnerable in key areas. They better hope Fairley, Young and Leshoure are every bit the difference makers they can be, because they gave up a lot in terms of opportunity costs to get them.

Draft grade: B+

Prowler
05-28-2011, 09:27 AM
I like the way Detroit played this draft. They obviously felt that the oline, linebacker, and cornerback talent wasn't enough in this class to be a major upgrade. With the exception of Tyron Smith, Peterson, and Amukamara, they were right. 1st round picks are picks for the future, and I won't argue against taking one of the top talents in the draft at #13.

The oline gave up the 6th fewest sacks (27), while having to block for the 3rd highest pass attempts (633) in the league. Best was not healthy and teams were lining up to tee off against Stafford, Hill, and Stanton. I don't have a problem with this oline going unchanged. The biggest issues are a healthy Gosder and Peterman. I absolutely hated Peterman last year due to his drive killing penalties, but he played through pain and has stated that he's finally injury free. Jason Fox was also playing with injuries last year, but has now stated that he's healthy and should develop into a decent swingman. Do they need some blue chip players on that line? Yes, but its not a pressing need yet.

The defense is the question mark. Unfortunately the lockout is ruining free agency. Depending on how things go, we could have Stephen Nicholas and Stephen Tulloch added to our linebacking corps. On defense, we could add one of the Baltimore FA corners, Richard Marshall, Carlos Rogers, Eric Wright, etc and have a respectable looking defense.

Because the draft is only one part of the process, I can't knock them for not filling every hole. Landing one of the top players, 2 of the top playmakers, and 2 high ceiling developmental guys earns the Lions an A.

A

Iamcanadian
05-28-2011, 10:36 AM
When you are drafting in the early teens, a team should be looking at possible mistakes by teams drafting in the top 10 and that IMO, is exactly what Detroit attempted to do. If they were right, it will turnout to be a better than fine draft, if the other teams were right, there could be question marks, but as of right now, I think they made solid picks.

onejayhawk
05-28-2011, 01:46 PM
I am not quite as enamored of this draft as some, but it was good.

Fairley is an excellent start. As a star, he might have made some waves. He might still, but as one piece of a star unit the likelihood is less.

Titus Young was not high on my list of WRs in this class. The Boise State offense is geared to make WRs look good. Like U Miami a decade ago, I expect holes in his development and limited upside. Not a bad pick, but not a good one either. At least they will get a PR out of it.

Leshoure I like. The reasons have been covered above. I would have had no problems had they taken him instead of Young

Doug Hogue might save this draft, or barely hang on. He is hard to figure. There is a lot of athleticism and upside, but he size is marginal even for a 4-3 Will. Coverage skills are make/break, and he has few of them yet. Special Teams will be glad to have him.

What can you say about 7th rounders. Culbreath looks like a decent rool of the dice, but asking him to make the team is a stretch. Practice squad.

You might have two impact players, which is a lot from any draft, but the depth is lacking. Young may surprise me, and Hogue has potential, but that is it. Solid draft, but that is the limit. B

J

Prowler
05-28-2011, 01:58 PM
Give it two years and it will be illegal to cover wide receivers. Titus should be alright.

SenorGato
05-28-2011, 02:22 PM
The thing I like most about Fairley is that Suh is too alpha for Fairley to outalpha him.

FlyingElvis
06-01-2011, 02:58 PM
Solid B+ for the Lions. Now they should just dive head-first into the Nnamdi sweepstakes.

Maybe This Year Mayhew
06-01-2011, 03:08 PM
Solid B+ for the Lions. Now they should just dive head-first into the Nnamdi sweepstakes.

I wish but I just don't see it as financially possible unless there is no cap in the future(mainly 2012 season). Stafford is making 10 plus million still from now on, Suh will be up to 10 million/yr soon, Calvin needs a new deal next year and will be the highest paid WR in the league (right now he's 10 million cap number this year) plus starting after 2012 we need to resign Delmas,Levy and 2013 for Pettigrew. After 2011 we need to resign Avril IMO. I just can't see 4 players on the Lions roster in the 10-15 million range in 2012. Nnamdi may be 15 million a season to play for the Lions to outbid the NFC East teams.

FlyingElvis
06-01-2011, 03:24 PM
I wish but I just don't see it as financially possible unless there is no cap in the future(mainly 2012 season). Stafford is making 10 plus million still from now on, Suh will be up to 10 million/yr soon, Calvin needs a new deal next year and will be the highest paid WR in the league (right now he's 10 million cap number this year) plus starting after 2012 we need to resign Delmas,Levy and 2013 for Pettigrew. After 2011 we need to resign Avril IMO. I just can't see 4 players on the Lions roster in the 10-15 million range in 2012. Nnamdi may be 15 million a season to play for the Lions to outbid the NFC East teams.

Very true. The top 3 pick salary issue escaped me.

GaMeTiMe
06-02-2011, 01:18 AM
I'm obviously in love with Suh/Fairley, but it also makes Fairley a one-contract player. He'll probably be somewhere else throughout his prime, unless Detroit really dumps that much money into the position

FUNBUNCHER
06-02-2011, 02:40 AM
I'm obviously in love with Suh/Fairley, but it also makes Fairley a one-contract player. He'll probably be somewhere else throughout his prime, unless Detroit really dumps that much money into the position

If things work out, Fairley should be in Detroit at least the length of his rookie deal, which should be about 5-6 years.

The Lions should be able to extend him for 4 years more if they want without tipping their franchise, the problem is they have Stafford/Megatron/Suh/Fairley and I'll add Leshoure as a potential difference maker who will have to all be negotiated going forward.

All those guys should have a 5 year window together to really do something special in Motown.

Stafford has yet to prove he's a core guy for Detroit, I assume they will keep Megatron at any cost(outside of a freak deal for him), and Suh and Fairley I'd try to keep together as long as possible.

killxswitch
06-02-2011, 08:02 AM
Doesn't Corey Williams have a pretty substantial contract? Any chance they try to move him to free up some money?

Maybe This Year Mayhew
06-02-2011, 08:21 AM
Doesn't Corey Williams have a pretty substantial contract? Any chance they try to move him to free up some money?

CW is signed through 2012 at 5 million cap number for 2011 and 2012. No signing bonus for CW since we got him via trade. If they move him, it will be next offseason IMO once we see for certain Fairley is the answer. A rotation will be good for Suh/Fairley and CW. Last time Corey was in a rotation in GB he had 7-8 sacks. After this year Backus 6 million comes off the books as he becomes a free agent. They may resign him though to a 1-2 year deal just to keep continuity in case a rookie isn't ready but they will look for a future left tackle next offseason.

We did free up 8 million cutting Julian Peterson before the lockout and Bryant Johnsons 3.6 million is as good as gone. But still no room for Nnamdi IMO.

But according to the Lions cap site, Stafford will have a 20 million cap number this year!!!! If that's true, he better stay healthy. Calvin is 9.5 million and Suh is low this year but the cap site didn't know his bonus so it's not ridiculously low at 2 million which they have on the site. They can sign most free agents just not Nnamdi.

killxswitch
06-02-2011, 01:38 PM
Isn't Champ Bailey a FA? Maybe he's an option for the Lions. He's older and not quite as good so he'd be cheaper. Not really a long-term option obviously.

niel89
06-02-2011, 02:06 PM
Isn't Champ Bailey a FA? Maybe he's an option for the Lions. He's older and not quite as good so he'd be cheaper. Not really a long-term option obviously.

He just resigned to a 4 year deal in feb.

MI_Buckeye
06-02-2011, 08:30 PM
Isn't Champ Bailey a FA? Maybe he's an option for the Lions. He's older and not quite as good so he'd be cheaper. Not really a long-term option obviously.

Bailey is probably going to be re-signed, the Broncos dont really have any other choice, and I doubt anyone offers him more than they can top.

Also, I tend to think Nnamdi is the fools gold of this free agent class, especially for the Lions. He is 31, not terrifically fast and has played press man almost exclusively his entire career. When he loses a step, he wont be fast enough anymore, and who knows if he will be able to handle playing zone coverage. I have a feeling he will make over $100 million, and some team will be regretting their decision.

MI_Buckeye
06-02-2011, 08:31 PM
Isn't Champ Bailey a FA? Maybe he's an option for the Lions. He's older and not quite as good so he'd be cheaper. Not really a long-term option obviously.

Bailey is probably going to be re-signed, the Broncos dont really have any other choice, and I doubt anyone offers him more than they can top.

Also, I tend to think Nnamdi is the fools gold of this free agent class, especially for the Lions. He is 31, not terrifically fast and has played press man almost exclusively his entire career. When he loses a step, he wont be fast enough anymore, and who knows if he will be able to handle playing zone coverage. I have a feeling he will make over $100 million, and some team will be regretting their decision.

DBNYDP
06-03-2011, 08:58 PM
He resigned a 4 year deal for like 43 million in February...

killxswitch
06-04-2011, 12:54 AM
So if Aso is to expensive and Bailey is off the table, who does that really leave? Ike Taylor or one of the Baltimore CBs? Brandon Carr? Not great options.

PossibleCabbage
06-04-2011, 02:05 AM
Also, I tend to think Nnamdi is the fools gold of this free agent class, especially for the Lions. He is 31, not terrifically fast and has played press man almost exclusively his entire career. When he loses a step, he wont be fast enough anymore, and who knows if he will be able to handle playing zone coverage.

Press-Man guys can play a lot longer after they lose their speed than a lot of other CBs. I mean, Al Harris was still playing cornerback at a high level after he lost about 3-4 steps and he never had that many to give up to begin with. Aggression, veteran savvy, and solid technique can make up for a lot of what you lose in terms of speed if you play a lot of press coverage.

Still, can't see Asomugha with the Lions. Not only can they not afford him, most likely, but it's also going to be a lot harder to sell him on Detroit than any number of other teams that are closer to competing and are in more attractive cities. I mean, I know the Lions are on the right track but so are some teams who actually were in the playoffs last year and are looking to sign a cornerback.

Scotty D
06-04-2011, 02:54 AM
So if Aso is to expensive and Bailey is off the table, who does that really leave? Ike Taylor or one of the Baltimore CBs? Brandon Carr? Not great options.

If the CBA makes Cromartie a FA I could see them going after him. They tried to trade for him before the Jets outbid.

killxswitch
06-04-2011, 05:08 PM
If the CBA makes Cromartie a FA I could see them going after him. They tried to trade for him before the Jets outbid.

I think the Jets will re-sign him, any reason they can't?

PossibleCabbage
06-04-2011, 05:11 PM
I think the Jets will re-sign him, any reason they can't?

David Harris, Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, and Brad Smith are also free agents and they can only spend so much money. I'm not sure they can resign all of those guys plus Cromartie, so they're going to have to choose who they're willing to let walk.