Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Detroit Lions - May 18th 2016 - Offensive Line

The post draft offensive line situation.

As of today the Detroit Lions have 15 players on their roster that play on the offensive line. Teams in the NFL tend to keep the 5 starters and then 5 backups for a total of 10 players (well some teams do, definitely not all teams). The Lions tend to keep 9, with one player who can back up two positions. Sometimes they get lucky and have more then one player who can backup more then one position. Either way, they usually keep 9 players, so let's see what the options are as of today.

There are currently 3 players on the team who can play center (that I now of, I haven't heard of any guards practicing at center so far this year). They are last year's starter Travis Swanson the 3rd round pick in the 2014 draft but who was ranked as the worst center in the NFL last year (if I recall correctly). There is this year's 3rd round draft pick Graham Glasgow and then there is Gabe Ikard who the Lions signed last year as a free agent player but is the same age as Swanson. These guys could play guard in an emergency, but I suspect the Lions will keep two of them. As the 3rd round draft pick this year the lock is Graham Glasgow. He may even win the starting center job, after all, you can't complain about how bad the OL was last year, draft a number of players that play OL, then not actually play them. With Glasgow the lock, that leaves the two 25 year olds Swanson and Ikard fighting it out for the other roster spot at center. Most assume that Swanson is a lock here, I do not believe that is the case. Oh sure, he's got more starting experience then Ikard, but his progress in developing into a quality starting center in the NFL was no where to be found this past year. For now, I'm giving Swanson the edge in making the final roster over Ikard, but I'm not going to call it a lock, not by any stretch of the imagination.

The Lions have 7 players on the roster who can play guard. Some will be better at left, some at right, and 4 of these 7 could play tackle as well, one or more might even be at tackle instead of guard by the end of August. Last year's starter and 1st round pick in 2015 Laken Tomlinson is purely a guard, he did develop a little as the year progressed last year, just what his ceiling is I do not know, but his entire contract is guaranteed so he will make the final roster (unless he was to get traded, which I doubt). Larry Warford, last year's starting right guard, is still on the team, but he will be facing competition for that job this year, and facing competition for a spot on the roster as well. If he can stay healthy he stands a chance of making the team, but he doesn't seem to stay healthy so this year needs to be his first year he does (stay healthy). One such competitor for his spot (and starting job) is the free agent pick up Geoff Schwartz. Unlike Warford, Schwartz can play guard or tackle, making him more valuable. Schwartz was only paid an $80,000 signing bonus but he has $120,000 of his salary guaranteed. Now $200,000 in guarantees doesn't make a player a lock to make the team, but Quinn obviously really wanted him on the roster, so it's going to take some significant play by others to knock him off of it.

Another player with some momentum to make the roster is this year's 5th round draft pick Joe Dahl. His signing bonus was $245,916... but Mr Dahl is being tried out at tackle and guard right from the get go, and he's more athletic then all the starters from last year at either position, so he is actually talented enough to play either. He's not a lock, but like Schwartz, it's going to take some effort by others to knock him off the team. Edit: I forgot to include this info on Dahl, the 30 year ex-scout who I referred to before on other players has Dahl ranked ahead of Lee and the others, in fact, he gave him an A grade (player you draft in the first two rounds) and a 6.60 score which is "A very good college player who should develop into a solid and consistent NFL player after a period of adjustment. Will eventually start and help a championship team win on a consistent basis. A late first or top half of second round player. You win BECAUSE of this type of player."

That's four. But, like I said, Dahl is being tried at tackle, he might be one of the four guards, and Warford is not a lock to make the final roster, or even to stay healthy, so there are some more players fighting for the one or two spots remaining. They are the undrafted guard Chase Farris who was paid $10,000 to sign an undrafted contract with the Lions; then there is Andrew Zeller also undrafted who can play guard or tackle and is also, like Dahl, extremely talented and physical. The last member of this group is another undrafted, in fact he was signed after the rookie OTAs where he was invited as a try out player and then signed, and he also players tackle or guard. His name is Darius Johnson. Which spot they settle on for him is not yet known.

Another lock to make the final roster is tackle Riley Reiff (again, unless he is traded). Reiff had his 5th year contract option picked up last year, which makes it guaranteed. When you guarantee a player's salary and that salary is $8.07 million then that player is a lock to make the roster. Now he may not end up as the left tackle, maybe not even the starter, but he'll make the final 53. I did not mark him down as a possible guard because even though pundits say he should be moved inside he hasn't actually played inside so it's unknown if he even could. It's also unknown if he could play right tackle in the NFL. I anticipate that perhaps, with the large influx of new talent on the OL, that Reiff might get moved around some early on to see exactly where he might be best at in Cooter's offensive scheme.

Yet another lock is this year's 1st round draft pick Taylor Decker. His entire 4 year contract is guaranteed, so he's a lock to make the team (again, unless traded) for the next 4 years. Whether he ends up at left tackle or right tackle remains to be seen, though I heard they are trying him at left tackle first (no idea how truthful that is).

The last set of players fighting for a roster spot are some of last year's roster; they are Michael Ola, Corey Robinson, and Cornelius Lucas. None of these guys have a salary cap reason for making the team. None of these guys were signed by Quinn. So all 3 of these guys would need to win a roster spot via their talent only. As none of them is known to play guard, their versatility is limited to playing right or left tackle. With Ola's starting experience last year he is probably a step ahead of the other two, but it's not a giant step... nothing that couldn't be overcome anyway. If you're still with me you are probably trying to remember how many locks there and who is fighting for what... and I plan to summarize that in just a bit. I just want to clarify, there are definitely locks to make the roster, there are no locks to be the starter. That includes every single one of the starters from the OL in 2015. And I do mean every single one. When your OL was as bad as the Lions' was last year, you can not even start to think you have it made. The fans shouldn't think that way, and the players had better not think that way.

Center Lock: Graham Glasgow. Swanson as the backup (or starter) with Ikard hard on his tale to take his spot away from him if he's not the starter.

Guard Lock: Laken Tomlinson. His entire remaining contract is guaranteed. Unless he's traded he makes the final roster.

Tackle Lock: Riley Reiff AND Taylor Decker. Both contracts fully guaranteed for this year (and 3 more years to follow in Decker's case).

That's 4 locks and 1 backup center that's between two players, so 5 spots locked in out of 9. These next guys are highly likely to make the final roster, not exactly a lock, but the next best thing to it.

Likely to claim a roster spot: G/T Geoff Schwartz AND G/T Joe Dahl. One a free agent signed by Quinn and the other a 5th round draft pick selected by Quinn.

That leaves us with 2 roster spots left for these 7 guys to fight over.
G Larry Warford
G Chase Farris
G/T Andrew Zeller
T/G Darius Johnson
T Cornelius Lucas
T Michael Ola
T Corey Robinson

As you can see, some serious talent may not make the final roster. In fact, it's possible that two of last year's starters may not even make the team. It's also possible that two more of last year's starters will be backup's and not starters this year. Fans and pundits alike were after the Lions to fix the OL, and this is how they are going to try doing just that. After writing this blog entry today I'm actually going to have to change my estimated depth chart, as it doesn't match the locks and the guys likely to make it. So I'm changing my estimated depth chart to this:

LT: Riley Reiff and Joe Dahl.
LG: Laken Tomlinson (also backed up by Joe Dahl).
C: Graham Glasgow and Travis Swanson (or it could be Ikard).
RG: Geoff Schwartz and Andrew Zeller.
RT: Taylor Decker and Darius Johnson. (edit: Ola may make the roster over Johnson if he doesn't show enough).

Chase Farris is going to be challenging both Zeller and Johnson for a roster spot, and the loser makes the practice squad. Since I don't know for sure who ends up at guard and who ends up at tackle the mix could be re-scrambled at a later time once word leaks out who is settling in where. For the time being though, this is how I see it going. Of course, the other 6 guys aren't going to just lay down either, and then there's the possibility of Quinn finding a trade partner, heck there is even a chance more free agents will be signed to get into the mix. A lot of variables in play, I only know a shake up is going to happen, and we all know, somewhere deep inside, a shakeup needs to happen, as far as the offensive line is concerned.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Detroit Lions - May 16th 2016 - Tight Ends

The post draft tight end situation.

The Detroit Lions currently have 6 tight ends on the roster but one of them, Brandon Pettigrew, injured his knee in week 14 of the 2015 season. While players do come back from an ACL, and often before a full year has gone by, they usually aren't themselves until the season after. Pettigrew turned 31 a couple of months ago. If he's cut after June 1st (a couple of weeks from now) he'll cost the cap $1 million this year and the same next year... but it'll save $3.65 million this year and $4.35 million next year in salary... for a net savings of $2.65 million in 2016 and a net savings of $3.35 million in 2017. Instead of freeing up that cap space the Lions could keep Pettigrew if he is in fact healthy enough to play, put him on PUP if it's going to take a couple extra months, or even put him on IR with the intent on keeping him for next year when he will be 32 years old. I do not believe that is what will happen. In fact, I'm not sure if they will keep him until August to see how his knee is doing, but they might. After all, with only 5 others and probably 3 spots up for grabs there is no hurry, it's not like Pettigrew could pass a physical for another team just now.

Lock #1: Eric Ebron. Ebron will cost the salary cap $3,340,676 in 2016 whether he is kept or cut. His salary is guaranteed. Therefor he is a lock to make the team in 2016 (and probably in 2017 as well). Even without that guarantee he probable is still a lock to make the team in 2016, this is his year 3, the year when rookie tight ends usually make their biggest leap and show by the end of the season what kind of NFL player they will really be (from here on out).

If Pettigrew is cut, traded, put on PUP, or put on IR, then that leaves 2 more roster spots for these 4 players. The 2016 Restricted Free Agent Timothy Wright (who Quinn knows from the Patriots and we now from last year's Lions roster); the 2016 free agent that was signed by Quinn Matthew Mulligan; and two undrafted free agents form this draft class of Adam Fuehne and Cole Wick. Timothy Wright has a nice salary IF he earns all his NLTBE bonuses, but to earn them he must make the roster and play in the games. That is not a sure thing at this point by any means. If he were cut at any point this summer it would cost the salary cap $96,250 in dead space and that would be it. If Matthew Mulligan was cut it would cost the cap $80,000 in dead money. If Wick is cut it would cost the cap $10,000 in dead money. And at this point we don't know if Fuehne would cost the cap anything if cut (no contract details have come to light as of yet for him). So really, salary cap will play no part in the decision on who to keep or cut. I think Timothy Wright is the vet presence, pass catching type TE (not so much of a blocker) that could lose his roster spot to either of the undrafted guys if they show enough in pre-season.

Matthew Mulligan is the veteran presence, blocking type tight end. Formerly of the Jets (so once again, Quinn knows him well from the Patriots division opponents) and not so much a pass catching type. Like Wright, his roster spot is in jeopardy only if one of the rookies shows something in the pass blocking area. As I said before though, his 1 year contract is not going to ensure him a roster spot by its self. He will have to fend off the competition (and hope that Pettigrew is indeed too hurt to play or won't remain on the team). Mulligan isn't a lock to make the team, but he is definitely leaning on to that side of that fence.

Adam Fuehne is 6'7" tall and 253 pounds which is big for a TE, but then Cole Wick is 6'5" and 256 pounds which is also big. Wick has more explosion, is faster, and has a better vertical, then Fuehne, but either could prove to be a decent TE (in time). As I explained before though, Wick wins the #RAS score and meets many of the measurables that top TE's have... it just remains to be seen how his skills translates into the NFL, and the same for Fuehne. It also remains to be seen if either Wick or Fuehne can show enough in pre-season to take the roster spots away from either Wright or Mulligan (or both).

In summary, at tight end, it appears at this point in time to be:
TE: Brandon Pettigrew; a post June 1st cut.
TE #1: Eric Ebron; a lock to make the final roster.
TE #2: a Blocking Tight End in Matthew Mulligan makes the roster unless either Wick or Fuehne can unseat him.
TE #3: a pass catching Tight End in Timothy Wright makes the roster unless either Wick or Fuehne can unseat him.
TE for practice squad: if either Wick or Fuehne fail to take a roster spot from the vets Wright or Mulligan then they are the only two who could qualify out of the six for a seat on the practice squad.

I like the potential that is Cole Wick, I'm just not sure if he can unseat Timothy Wright as the #2 TE in his rookie year. I also like the potential in Fuehne, but I don't think he will unseat Mulligan, so it's the practice squad for him. Between the two undrafted players I would keep an eye on Cole Wick, and if he shows something I'm not sure I'd risk trying to get him to the practice squad, but I don't now what Quinn's gambling level is in that regard, at least not yet. I do, however, like the odds of Wick beating out Mulligan as the blocking TE, at least right now, I may change my mind on that later.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Detroit Lions - May 15th 2016 - Wide Receivers

The post draft wide receiver situation.

With the retirement of Calvin Johnson many pundits expected the Detroit Lions to draft a wide receiver in the 2016 draft, and early at that. Most mocks had that nearly as a mandate in the first couple rounds. The Lions however drafted nary a one in 10 pics. They did sign 3 undrafted players however, and before the draft, signed 6 free agents, giving them a total of 12 wide receivers (currently) on the roster. They will probably keep 5 on the roster after the final cuts, unless someone beats out the 3rd QB, or the 4th RB, or the 10th Dlineman, or the 7th LB, or the 10th DB, or whatever position gets trimmed back in order to keep that one WR dude they just can't let go. So yeah, it could be 6 or even 7 but it will most likely be five.

Lock #1: Golden Tate. Tate was signed in 2014 to a 5 year deal and has already proven his worth to the team and to the fans. He is as much of a sure thing to make the team as there is.

Lock #2: Marvin Jones. Jones was signed this year to a 5 year contract that is nearly identical to the one signed by Golden Tate two years ago even including the same $8 million signing bonus. For cap reasons alone he makes the team, but he is also expected to bookend the WR spots with Golden Tate to make up the beginning of what could become a very interesting offense for Mr Cooter.

Highly probable #1: Jeremy Kerley. The Lions picked up Kerley in free agency on a one year prove it type deal to bolster the WR corps. Neither his $50,000 signing bonus nor his $40,000 workout bonus will prevent him being cut if need be, but he only gets his bonuses of $260,000 (as in not likely to be earned bonuses) if he hits play time incentives, this would be on top of his one year salary of only $760,000. Yet this meager contract still makes him the 3rd highest paid WR on the Lions, that plus his age, familiarity with Quinn, and abilities makes him highly probable to make the final roster.

Most likely to take the 4th spot: TJ Jones. Jones has begun to show progress on his development and has 2 years remaining on his 6th round 4 year contract he signed after the draft in 2014. In my opinion he has shown more value then his fellow 6th round pick (from 2013, the year before) Corey Fuller. He has the upper hand to be the 4th WR on the roster but it is by no means guaranteed a spot. He will be challenged not only by Fuller but by everyone else on the current roster.

Insurance: Andre Caldwell. Caldwell is insurance in case anyone of the above gets injured. He was signed to a one year vet minimum deal, the $80,000 signing bonus is cheap insurance if anything goes wrong due to injury or lack of development of the youngsters. However, if all the top 4 are healthy he likely fails to make the final roster. Like I said before, Quinn is ruthless.

The final WR spot(s): Corey Fuller, Ryan Spadola, Corey Washington, Austin Willis, Jace Billingsley, Quinshad Davis, or Jay Lee. Lions fans know Fuller from the past 3 years of course. Spadola, Washington and Willis were signed this off season to compete. Billingsley, Davis and Lee were signed after the draft when they went undrafted and also are in the mix. You would think that Fuller would have the best chance of making the final roster but I don't feel that is the case at all. His time to shine was last year, and he failed to make that 3rd year jump that wide receivers make if they are to succeed in the NFL. He gets this one extra off season to prove otherwise, but I have a feeling it is someone elses turn to begin the process of development.

My pick? The undrafted rookie Jay Lee. His #RAS is better then the rest of the WR corp. His likelihood of NFL success is better then his competition. His future is very bright indeed, if he applies himself to the task fully. In the last post I mentioned a 30 year scout who used real NFL rankings on players and showed his ranking for the QB the Lions drafted, well Lee also made his list, and he was ranked one notch higher the Rudock. Lee also had a B grade (meaning a player you would select in rounds 2 or 3) and his score was a 6.50 which is "Will need a little more time to develop but should become a solid starter. Will be a quality backup his first and second year depending on a team's needs and strengths but could start earlier if a top team is weak at the position. A second to third round pick. You win WITH this type of player." None of the other undrafteds even made the list at all to garner a score.

In summary, at wide receiver, it appears at this point in time to be:
WR: Golden Tate and Marvin Jones; both locks in my opinion.
WR3: Jeremy Kerley (vet presence with slot and outside experience, younger then Caldwell).
WR4: TJ Jones (has been developing better then Fuller).
WR5: Jay Lee (has the most potential of them all).

Andre Caldwell is insurance in case any of the first 4 get injured. Corey Fuller, Ryan Spadola, Corey Washington, Austin Willis, Jace Billingsley and Quinshad Davis are all competing against each other; against Kerley and Jones and Lee for one of those nearly locked up spots; and against the rest of the roster to show they belong as an extra WR instead of another position on the team.

It's going to be some good competition, and some decent talent may end up being cut before the season starts. (if you just had a case of deja vue that is because that is exactly what I said about the RB position). Several of the "losers" will likely make the practice squad though not all of them qualify.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Detroit Lions - May 14th 2016 - Running Backs

The post draft running back situation report.

The previous blog entry was on Quarterbacks, this will be on Running Backs. However, I did forget one comment on the 6th round draft pick QB Rudock. That is, his ranking (pre-draft) from a former scout with 30 years experience (using the NFL version of ranking players). Rudock had a B ranking (or a player you would draft in rounds 2 or 3) and a score of 6.4 which is "A solid college player with traits to succeed at the next level. Hey may ultimately become a 6.5 or better player and become a starter. You view this player as a solid backup type. Provides good depth for a championship team and should be able to play in a rotation. A backup with staying power." Okay, now that I got that over with, some running back discussion.

The Lions have one full back on the team unless they try to convert a tight-end to that position. That pretty much assures Michael Burton of his roster spot. Still, that leaves 6 players who play running back and most likely 4 roster spots on the team. Yes, it could be 3 spots or 5 spots but the most likely scenario is 4. I believe the lock at this position is Theo Riddick. His pass catching prowess was on full display last year and there is almost no chance he fails to make the roster in that role (barring injury, knock on wood). Ameer Abdullah is also a lock as his entire salary for this year is guaranteed and also because he was productive in only his 1st year in the league. This leaves one vet, two undrafted players from previous years, and this year's 7th round pick for the final 2 spots. The salary cap will play no part in differing these players from each other, their cap hits are all within $212,000 of each other.

The vet, Stevan Ridley formerly of the Patriots, was playing well for his previous team before injury took him out of the picture. Assuming he is fully healed, will remain healthy, and has not lost anything, he brings a veteran presence to the RB corp that won't be easily dismissed. He isn't a lock to make the team but in a tie he probably wins the spot. Basically, if he's healthy and able he's in. If not, he may be out.

George Winn, the undrafted player for the Lions in 2014, has an uphill battle. His experience with his fellow players and the current coaching staff gives him a small advantage, which he will have to use in full to remain on the team come September.

Zach Zenner, the undrafted player for the Lions in 2015, also has an uphill battle. He too has the one year experience with this coaching staff and that same time period with his fellow players. But, he's up against this year's 7th round draft pick. If Zenner can stay healthy it's possible he could beat out Winn, but he would have to really show some good things in order to beat out either a healthy Ridley or the Lions newest 7th rounder.

Dwayne Washington, this year's 7th round draft pick, is the final player in the group fighting for a roster spot. His first advantage is that he was drafted. His second is his ability to be a scoring threat from anywhere on the field (at least he was in college). It remains to be seen if he can transition into the NFL, if he can remain healthy, and if he can learn enough quick enough to beat out some pretty decent competition for the roster spots involved. His #RAS score is somewhere around fantastic (meaning his measurables are great). As I explained a few posts down, if a running back exceeds 5'10" in height, 4.5 seconds in the 40, and 10' 4" in the long jump he has a 78% of success in the NFL. Dwayne Washington exceeds all those. The only thing I can not find on him, and I've looked 8 pages deep in both google and bing, is his hand size. I have a personal preference of 9.5" or larger hands, but basically it's the larger hand size the better the odds. Dwayne has had some issues with drops/fumbles, but if it's not physical (meaning hand size) then it's correctable, with coaching on focus and ball security. It is entirely conceivable that Dwayne will be the Lions number 1 running back before his 4 year contract is up. It's also possible he'll end up cut and on the practice squad. This is a total boom or bust draft pick, it just happens that the odds are more in favor of a boom then a bust, even though he lasted until the 7th round. One thing for sure, he is going to be giving Ridley, Winn and Zenner a run for their money.

In summary, at running back, it appears at this point in time to be:
FB: Michael Burton; lock.
RB: Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah; both locks in my opinion.
RB: Steven Ridley (vet presence but health and ability remaining are concerns) and Dwayne Washington (draft pick but needs to learn fast) vs Zach Zenner and George Winn (both have shown something but both were undrafted and by previous regime at that) for the final two spots.

It's going to be some good competition, and some decent talent may end up being cut before the season starts.

8 Days Later

In the past 8 days the Detroit Lions have made a number of moves other then the undrafted players I mentioned already (and the 10 draft picks, who they have already got signed)... they are:

05/05/2016 The Detroit Lions sign WR Andre Caldwell, release C Darren Keyton.
05/08/2016 The Detroit Lions sign offensive lineman Darius Johnson, waive offensive tackle Tyrus Thompson.
05/09/2016 The Detroit Lions acquire linebacker Jon Bostic via trade from the New England Patriots.
05/13/2016 The Detroit Lions sign defensive lineman Louis Palmer, release offensive tackle Lamar Holmes.

and on the 6th of May the Lions officially signed their undrafted players, that transaction report looked like this:

05/06/2016 The Detroit Lions sign corner back Adairius Barnes, wide receiver Jace Billingsley, wide receiver Quinshad Davis, defensive end James DeLoach, guard Chase Farris, tight end Adam Fuehne, defensive end Deonte Gibson, wide receiver Jay Lee, defensive back Charles Washington, corner back Ian Wells, tight end Cole Wick and guard Andrew Zeller.

What did they trade to the Patriots for that linebacker? The conditional 7th round pick they received from the Patriots last year when the Lions traded away their tight end turned offensive tackle Mike Williams.

Obviously the Lions have been very busy since the draft, and may continue to be busy revamping the roster, so much so that some of what I write will likely be obsolete before I finish my series of blog entries. I'll have to update on the fly or else I'll never get this finished.

Anyway, I did complete some work on my estimated depth chart and my salary cap chart (perma-links to both are in the menu to the right). Now I will use the information on those two charts and elsewhere to take on a position group at a time. First up... Quarterback.

Matthew Stafford will of course remain the starter (barring injury... knock on wood) and the Lions already signed Dan Orlovsky on a 1 year vet minimum deal to back him up. After that the Lions drafted Jake Rudock as their first pick in round 6. The Lions also have just completed their rookie OTA (Organized Team Activity) and did not bring in a 4th QB. This is significant as usually a 4th arm would be in camp now (under previous regimes) in order for him to not be lost. You would normally expect him signed sooner rather then later so he can begin learning the playbook. Since the Lions opted not to sign a 4th arm it's possible they will be going with 3 for the upcoming OTAs and summer camp. The question is, are they going to keep 3 or just 2 when they go into the season. The answer is, that depends on Rudock's progress. With only 3 camp arms Rudock will be getting more reps then normal, which suggests that if he does progress enough it could be Orlovsky who is competing against the rest of the roster for a spot on the 53. Rudock may also be Orlovsky's replacement... NEXT year... should the Lions decide he needs more then a few months to be the sole backup quarterback, thus keeping 3 on the roster. There is also the possibility that Rudock doesn't progress at all, in which case Orlovsky stays on as the backup and Rudock ends up gone entirely or on the practice squad. By having all their options open the bases are fairly well covered, the ruthless part of it (the cuts) will happen after more info is garnered.

Speaking of "more info" I would recommend everyone read the following link; I would also recommend that if you read my take on the pick immediately after day 3 of the draft that you also read my follow up entry, since one is very critical of the pick and the other is nearly a reversal of that opinion. There are a lot of draft profiles out there on Rudock (well, all players really) but the link above is based mostly on film review and not so much other factors and in reading so many articles it would seem to be the best summary of them all. Anyway, as of now, I am keeping three QBs on my estimated depth chart... but if Rudock starts showing great progress I may drop Orlovsky down into the "players fighting for a roster spot" side or if Rudock starts showing no progress at all I may drop him into that side... because yes, Quinn would cut Orlovsky even though he's already been paid $80,000 and is a veteran; just like yes, Quinn would cut Rudock even though he's already been paid $133,740 and is a draft pick (albeit a 6th rounder). Being ruthless is going to show more then once in upcoming times, like it or not.

So after 8 days and 1 OTA the Lions have just one new QB learning the playbook, with 3 arms for the next one, plus depending on how Rudock progresses he will help determine if the Lions keep 2 or 3 QBs for the regular season, and if only 2, which one is the backup to Stafford. Greater then normal progress and Rudock becomes the sole backup QB, lesser then normal progress and Orlovsky remains the backup this year while Rudock tries to make the practice squad, then there's the "typical" or "normal" progress meaning both QBs remain on the roster for one more year.

When Quinn said he likes flexibility he didn't just mean players who can play in more then one spot on the roster. He means to have all his options open in the roster makeup as well, via competition for even the backup jobs.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Lions Roster Moves - May 3rd and 4th 2016 - That's 'May the 4th be with you' to you Star Wars fans.

3 in 3 out.

As I stated last night, the Lions cut C Braxton Cave and TE Casey Pierce (yesterday) so that created two openings. Today we find out that two undrafted free agents were signed in their place; WR Jace Billingsley, Eastern Oregon and DE Deonte Gibson, Northwestern. Then later today we find they also cut TE Jordan Thompson and sign veteran free agent WR (from Denver) Andre Caldwell. Since the draft, before any OTAs even started, and having not drafted any, the Lions have cut two tight ends. Does this tell you what they believe they have in UDFA TE Cole Wick (or TE Adam Fuehne)? At the same time they cut a center and sign a vet WR, a undrafted WR and an undrafted DE. We already know the roster is thin at DE, but it appears they haven't quite as much instant belief in the undrafted WRs as they do in the tight ends.

Now I believe that Andre Caldwell is merely the vet backup plan in case the one (or more) undrafted WRs do not work out so well. Until the contract info is released though this is just a guess. That leaves us with 2 new undrafted players, let's view the RAS on them shall we?

WR Jace Billinsley (no RAS available) Took part in Nevada's pro day. Wasn't scouted. This from the article I read.

Billingsley is the kind of off-the-radar prospect pro days can help. Since he played for Eastern Oregon, an NAIA school, he wasn’t scouted. But Nevada allowed him to take part in pro day and he showed good strength (25 reps on the bench) and had the fastest 40-time (an unofficial time of around 4.40). Billingsley rushed for 843 yards, caught 50 passes for 385 yards and scored 11 touchdowns in 10 games for the Mountaineers in 2015. He impressed the Wolf Pack alums.

“He came out here and did 25 on the bench,” said Jackson, who ran through all the drills with Billingsley. “I said, ‘Somebody missed that in recruiting. Somebody really missed that.’ He was out in Eastern Oregon. He came out here and he did great, too. That was really good to see.”

Among the NFL teams in attendance were scouts from the Raiders, Lions, Patriots, Jaguars, Cowboys, 49ers, Buccaneers and Cardinals. Edmonton and Ottawa of the CFL also were in attendance.

Also, let's compare the RAS of Caldwell, to ah, Fuller (since it was already done for me lol):

The Lions keep adding players who 'fit the suite' and they are now at 12 undrafted free agents and 68 veterans (after the recent cuts) to go along with their 10 draft picks.

I was going to try to analyze a little of the draft picks in this blog entry but am running out of time, so on to the next sunrise I am afraid.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Estimated Depth Chart - Post Draft - Version 1a

The first version of the Post Draft Estimated Depth Chart is now up The perma-link is on the menu to the right ------>

You will see all 10 draft picks are estimated as making the roster. That's on purpose. The front office for the Lions drafted all these guys expecting (or at least seriously hoping) that they would make the final roster, so for now there is no reason not to include them as if they had. Future versions may move them around though. I also included some undrafted guys, partially because pre-draft I estimated they would pick up a WR and a TE (but didn't) and partially because I think these 4 candidates just might be good enough to actually make the roster (more on this later).

Now before you discount WR Jay Lee just remember (or if you haven't already, read the blog entry below this one) that a WR who meets certain standards has a much better chance then others at not only making it on a roster but excelling too. Jay Lee is about 0.04 seconds in the 40 yard dash over the mark (but he meets all the others; 3 cone, hand size, and weight) his real issue isn't his measurables, it's his drops. The reason for the drops? He body catches just about everything. The Lions coaches need to work on getting his hand strength up (weight room work) and then coach him on making the catches with his hands, not with his body. If they can develop that habit in him he will take the deep WR spot on the roster I do believe.

TE Cole Wick is a little too slow for a pass catching TE on a starting roster, but, he does have explosion (vertical and long jump). He's also in need of a weight room, he only benched 14 times and that needs to get up over 20. If he puts in the work, and if Pettigrew ends up on IR (due to his injury from last year which takes awhile to come back from) then Wick just might make the final roster.

G/T Andrew Zeller fits the suit... of both positions. There is zero reason why (via measurables) that he couldn't play guard or tackle in the NFL, he's better then many of the current players on the OL (in measurables). If he can be coached up he very well should snag a roster spot... which could actually lead to a starting roster spot in time (or due to injury). I love this signing by the way.

Finally there's CB Ian Wells. I really think he can beat out his competitors on the team for the final CB spot. Unless Quinn brings in more competition that is, perhaps even then.

The Lions cut two players today, so they are about to sign 2 more guys. Who or at which positions I do not know, could be vets, could be some more undrafted guys. But they made room for someone, two someones actually. If it were me, they would both be DEs. The Lions only have 4 on the entire roster.

By the way, I put the 1st round draft pick as the starting right tackle, but I wonder if he'll end up at left... perhaps this year, perhaps next year, perhaps never. That will likely be my next blog post. And I may have to revisit that more then once before September.