Saturday, April 30, 2011

Draft 2011, Day 3

The Lions only had 2 picks in the 2011 draft on day 3. Pick #157 in round 5 and #209 in round 7. They did not make any more draft day trades and selected two players to compete for roster spots if and when there is a summer camp.

In the 5th round the selection was Doug Hogue OLB Syracuse. In the 7th round the selection was Johnny Culbreath OG/OT South Carolina State. As with most teams that are not totally devoid of talent, there is no guarantee that any picks in day 3 will make the roster (though round 4 and 5 guys usually get at least a year).

So let's take a look at the two newest Detroit Lions.

Doug Hogue was a former running back that switched to linebacker at the beginning of his Junior year. He's 6'2" tall and weighs 226 pounds. I had him ranked 134 on my big board but other sites have him lower and higher... even with only 2 years at that position. has him ranked as the 13th best OLB in the draft.

A gifted athlete who will need time to develop. He will be competing for a backup LB spot with the Lions.

Johnny Culbreath could end up playing either guard or tackle in the NFL. He's 6'6" tall and weighs in the 310 to 322 range (various sites have different numbers on him). I didn't have him ranked on my big board (400 names), but other boards have him. He's a former wrestler who played left tackle in college.

Positives: Looks like an NFL tackle with thick lower and upper bodies, good height and long arms. Has natural bend, good technique on slide. Owns a strong punch and extends arms to maintain distance with defender, resets hands multiple times. Effective cut blocker on stretch plays and in pass protection. Hits multiple targets on zone blocks and downfield. Plays with real attitude, attacks defenders in the run game and latches on, finishing the play. Team captain in 2010.

Negatives: Overextends in the run game and in pass protection, losing posture and opening himself up to be out-quicked in space. Needs to move his feet after contact because won't dominate with pure strength athleticism as he did against FCS competition.

--Chad Reuter says High school wrestling champion, team captain and four-year starter who looks the part with very good size, long arms and large hands with nice movement skills. However, is raw and unrefined technically. Has a lethargic lower body — is not explosive out of his stance and kickslide needs work. Held his own against Georgia Tech, flashes a mean streak and has moldable tools for a patient position coach to work through mental hurdles.

The Lions will try him out at offensive tackle and guard. There is a chance he makes the roster if he shows anything in camp, but the odds are he'll be a practice squad player the first year.

When free agency starts the Lions can look at signing their undrafted guys, although that could be weeks if not months from now. They scouted roughly 30 people that did not get drafted. Those names can be found on the Lions Contact List that LionHawk puts together and posts in my forum which by the way, contained the names of all 5 of the Lions draft picks... that's right, LionHawk was 5 for 5 this year.

So the Lions finish the draft with 3 players who will definitely see playing time and a couple of projects... they have a little work to do in free agency but if you take a look at it, not all that much.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Draft 2011, Day 2

The Detroit Lions added to their roster in the draft again today. Once again they didn't take players most fans and sports pundits figured they would. The fact they didn't address needs has angered some fans for the 3rd year in a row. But if you take a step back, take a deep breath and look at it from various angles you might like what you see... or at least hate it less.

The lions fielded calls but accepted no trades with their 2nd round pick and ended up taking WR Titus Young with the 44th pick in the draft. Yep, another wide receiver. As we all waited for the 3rd round suddenly it was announced the Lions traded back into the 2nd round and were on the clock. The Lions gave up their 3rd and their 4th round picks, and swapped their 5th and 7th round picks, with the Seattle Seahawks... to select RB Mikel Leshoure with the 57th pick in the draft. Yep, another running back. The swapping of picks in rounds 5 and 7 isn't much, only a couple of spots each, but giving up both a 3rd and a 4th round pick to get a second pick in the 2nd round sounds like a lot to give up... but according to the often hated trade chart, it was actually a pretty good value... for the Lions.

Now let's look at the positions drafted. As explained last night, yes they took a DT last year 2nd overall with their 1st round pick and then took another DT with their first round pick this year, but there is a roster spot for him (again, sorry Andre Fluellen) and he will rotate in and play as many snaps as the other starters. He also makes the defense better, he's a difference maker, a play maker, and was a top 10 pick that slid to pick 13 for the Lions.

Tonight the Lions took a WR with their original second round pick. Yes they took WRs high almost every year for over half a decade but who has been able to get the job done in the NFL for the Lions? Just Calvin Johnson. He along with free agent pickup Nate Burleson are the usable wide receiver corp. The Lions wanted, no needed, another wide receiver. I thought they might go with a free agent veteran here but they did not. Any way you look at it there was a roster spot for a wideout.

A few picks later the Lions traded back into round 2 and selected a RB. Yes, they traded back up into round one last year and selected RB Jahvid Best. But the Lions needed a 3rd RB as they didn't re-sign Kevin Smith and Aaron Brown just isn't stepping into the role. So once again, there is a roster spot for a running back.

Do they have roster spots for a linebacker or a cornerback? Yes, they do. Do they need to fill those spots? Yes, they do. Did they need to fill those spots more then they needed to fill the roster spots they filled? That's debatable, but all the spots needed to be filled, so what order or with what method shouldn't matter.

Remember, for the first year ever, the draft is before free agency. When free agency starts, and it will start before the first game can be played, every single free agent is available. Not just the dregs after the draft like it usually is, but every single talented free agent is also available.

So am I worried about what roster spots are yet to be filled? Not if I take that step back and take a deep breath, no. The Lions had x number of roster spots to fill or ugprade, some they will do in the draft the rest they will do in free agency... which spot is filled with which method is not at issue.

When the clock was ticking the Lions obviously felt the players they selected for the roster spots they were filling were better then the other options still on the board. That's all a part of taking one of the Best Player(s) Available that Fills ANY Need. The exact same draft strategy they've used for 3 years now, with the occasional targeted player they trade up for.

Let's take a look at the specific players selected then instead of worrying about what position they play or what the team needs are.

Titus Young, WR, Boise St. 5'-11 3/8" 174lbs. (officially) 4.4 speed (4.58 at combine)

But that's just highlight film, so what's the real skinny?

From ProFootballTalk:

Pro: "Possesses a real second gear down the field and is a consistent big-play guy. Displays good shiftiness off the line of scrimmage as well. Does a nice job quickly beating press with his lateral quickness and a sudden arm over and separating from his man. Is also a pretty gifted and balanced route runner, even when at top speed. Consistently is able to gain significant separation out of his sharply breaking routes and does a nice job staying low and driving back toward the football."

Con: "he is undersized and can be pushed around down the field vs. more physical corners and will struggle to fight his way toward the football. He's also very explosive and sudden after the catch, but too often lets the ball get into his frame and isn't the most consistent of pluckers at this stage."

Read the whole thing here (click on "Full Scouting Report"

Another pro/con link:

And at "A Pay Site" (edited, see link for full profile)

Titus is a quick, long-striding wide receiver with excellent hands that should impact on special teams the day after you draft him. His skills translate very well to a more conventional NFL offense. He is fearless going over the middle on crossing routes because he is faster and quicker off the line than most corners. It is difficult to use bump and run techniques to slow him up off the line because he uses his hands very well and has quick lateral agility. Titus is smart and has an excellent feel for the game. He is in synch with his QB and, because of his run after the catch speed, Titus will turn just about any pass thrown to him on any part of the field into six points. Titus is a weapon that will be very hard for other teams to match up to as a wide receiver on the outside or in the slot.

Titus has a difficult time handling success. He was suspended this year and challenged the authority of the Boise St coaching staff. Normally when a player is suspended by the team and the press does not know why, it is because the player missed practices and meetings. That is pure conjecture on my part, but since no one seems to know the story, we can only guess.

There are two things that could keep him out of the first round. One is that Titus plays for Boise St and the media (and agents with media contacts) seem to have a biased towards this team because the NFL does not like the style of offense. The other reason is that maybe -- just maybe -- NFL teams will take into account that Titus was suspended! You have to do your homework on this kid and I'm not one to automatically cancel out drafting a player because he got suspended by his team. Hopefully, Titus has learned a lesson. ...The BS Detector Drew Boylhart

Okay, so he needs coaching and a weight room, got it. Potentially Titus Young will be the exact player the Lions are looking for in their WR corp.

Mikel Leshoure RB Illinois 6'-0" 227lbs 4.5 speed (4.59 at combine)

Yep, Highlights, so here's the rest of the story.

Pro's: A thick, well strapped together back with a compact frame and muscular-looking lower half. Has experience running both from the gun and from the I and looks very natural when asked to pick his way through the line of scrimmage. Displays a good first step when asked to press the hole, keeps his pad level down and runs with good forward lean. Is very patient picking his way through the tackles, allows blocks to set up in front of him, has a good feel in tight areas and maintains balance through contact. Showcases impressive footwork and good short-area quickness when asked to side step a defender and make him miss or slip a tackle. Does a nice job dropping his pad level into contact, runs very hard delivering punishment into defenders and breaks his fair share of tackles.

Con's: Is still developing as a pass blocker, but has good hands in the pass game. Looks natural catching the football out of the backfield, squaring his shoulders and getting north/south quickly.

See the full scouting report here:

Drew talks about how he might be a first rounder here along with more in-depth pros and cons similar to the above.

Another scouting report here:

Looks like another guy who needs coaching, especially on blitz pickups, but has all the tools to be the thumper the Lions needed.

Now it may sound as if the Lions would've been better off taking a linebacker or cornerback (or both) in round 2, but if you go to those same sites and look up your favorites that were still available you'll see each of the options have their flaws as well. My feeling is that these two players fit so well with what the Lions want to do at those positions that they were ranked higher then all the other options by a fair amount. Depending on who you believe, the Lions either reached and had a poor draft so far or got a top 10 pick in round 1 at 13 and two late first round picks in round 2.

As for the linebacker and cornerback holes in the depth chart... let's wait until after free agency to see what the plan is there... I have a feeling we all will be pleasantly surprised.

Draft 2011, Day 1

With the 13th pick of the 2011 NFL draft the Detroit Lions take Nick Fairley, Defensive Tackle, Auburn.

Now who saw that one coming? Rick Gosselin of the Dallas News did. He nailed that pick and 13 others in the first round. He was the only one I know of though, even the entries in my Lions draft contest (all 42 of them) missed the Lions taking Fairley or even a DT by any name for that matter. Most mocks had Fairley going in the top 10, most if not all actually.

Nick Fairley was ranked as the 7th best player in the draft on my board. had Fairly at #2. had him 4th. also had him at 7. The only one that didn't have him top 10 that I wrote down was who had him 14th.

Nick missed some meetings leading up to the draft and seems to have a few mild character concerns but with Suh and KVB on the team and on the line with him, the Lions DLine coach behind him and coach Schwartz above him, I don't foresee all that many issues to worry about... or at least, I hope there won't be any issues there to worry about.

The Lions is now projected to have perhaps the best defensive line in the NFL, both at starter and with backups added in. If all stay healthy {knock on wood} the Detroit Lions are going to have a defense to be reckoned with before they even start addressing the back 7.

The Lions made this pick despite an entire draft full of offensive tackles to choose from save one (Tyron Smith was taken by Dallas at 9) and despite there not really being a significant need at DT. In all likelihood they upgraded the roster spot about to be formerly held by Mr. Fluellen with the pick (sorry Andre). So when you got one of the Best Players Available and a roster spot for him... the trigger gets pulled. That's building a team with talent.

The best thing about the pick (if I'm being selfish) is that my opinion weeks ago that the Lions would NOT be drafting an offensive tackle in round 1 was totally correct. Granted I thought they might select a defensive end but then I never once, not even for a moment, thought that Nick Fairley would fall to the 13th spot in the draft. I didn't believe it at 2am on Thursday the 28th when I read Rick Gosselin's final mock draft... I didn't believe it when the draft started falling more or less exactly as the Goose said it would... and I still didn't believe it when Fairley was still on the clock after the 12th pick... not until I saw that the Lions pick was in (and thus no trade) and the commish was walking up to the mic did I finally believe it.

So now what? In roughly 16 hours from now the 2nd night of the draft begins with rounds 2 and 3. Who might the Lions select? Well, they may trade, up or down, but assuming they stay put in round 2 the Lions have had direct contact with guys like RB Mikel Leshore; LB's Akeen Ayers, Martez Wilson, Quan Sturdivant & Bruce Carter; WR's Titus Young, Torrey Smith, & Jerrel Jernigan; OG/OC Stefan Wisniewski; and DE/DT Christian Ballard. A few other names to watch out for but with little or no known contact would be: WR's Randall Cobb & Leonard Hankerson; OG's Clint Boling, Ben Ijalana & Rodney Hudson; and there are a few DTs that I won't bother mentioning now.

What surprise move will the Lions make in round 2? No idea. There is a good chance the pick will be one of the names listed above but that doesn't mean it won't be someone else. So pick your poison and tune in for the 2011 draft day 2 at 6pm eastern on Friday (today).

Oh wait, there is two rounds on Friday night. What about round 3? The list of contacts gets even longer. 3 DBs, 6 LBs, 2 RBs, 1 WR, 1 OG. That's nearly half the round right there. Needless to say, the Lions aren't done improving their team just yet. I just don't know if they'll be adding guys like G/C Wisniewski and LB Foster or WR Hankerson and RB DeMarco Murray or LB Wilson and LB Moch... or... yeah, lots of options.

I do know that Cutler, Rodgers and Ponder won't be looking forward to lining up against KVB, Suh, Fairley, and Avril this fall. If they say they are looking forward to it, that's probably a lie. I only know I am looking forward to it.

Welcome to the Detroit Lions Nick Fairley.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My first mock

I decided to take my top 100 big board that I recently completed and create a mock draft with it. However, I didn't want to do just any ole mock, everyone has a mock, I wanted to create something I hadn't seen before. It so different I wasn't even sure if I wanted to share it or not. However, in the end, I decided that unless I get feedback I can't improve upon the idea and really promote it next year. In the hopes that I can make something of it I created it's own domain name for it.

The premise is this, 4 mocks on one page, 2 rounds, using my custom top 100 big board and team needs, but not using the same player more then once for the same team... so 4 different options (hopefully 4 legitimate options) each round per team.

Let me know what you think or shoot me your questions.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Lions needs and the 2011 draft

Time and again I see mock drafts with the Lions taking an offensive tackle at pick 13, usually with a remark about how Stafford needs to be protected. Time and again I cringe, leave the site, perhaps email the author, make posts in my forum against the very idea of it, and then get rebuffed by others who happen to agree that the Lions will take an offensive tackle at 13 (never mind that no two of them choose the same dude). Almost every draft site on the planet that lists a teams needs show the most needy need for the Lions being an (you guessed it) offensive tackle.

Now, it depends on what site you go to for stats, but the one I went to showed the Lions as tied for 6th BEST in the league at protecting the Quarterback. Not worst, best. There is obviously room for improvement (still got 5 spots to go) but is taking an offensive tackle the most critical need? Will taking a tackle in round 1 help keep Stafford on the field? Sorry, don't think so, especially since none of the 2011 options are NFL ready to seal the edge for a Quarterback in game 1, perhaps not even by game 16, of this year.

Then I hear how old Jeff Backus is. Yet how many starts has he missed? In 10 years he's missed fewer games then most of the draft options have in their 2 or 3 years of college play. Is age a factor? Well if it is, the Lions have critical needs at Kicker, Defensive End, and Center... as those guys are not spring chickens either. Why is Jeff Backus being the victim and none of the others?

Probably because he played average to poorly for years as a Lion. Never mind the continual rotation at coach, scheme, fellow players, etc. Heck, for 8 years I begged for him to be replaced. Now I'm sitting here typing and defending him (almost surreal actually). That's how much better he has played with these coaches in charge, with their schemes, and with his fellow players. Coach Schwartz even said he'd have voted Jeff to the Pro-Bowl had he been allowed to. ESPN North picked Jeff Backus just a couple of months ago as the top LT in the NFC North. Yeah, he sounds like he MUST BE replaced right this moment!!!

Then I get the arguments that Gosder Cherilus had micro fracture surgery, they have to do something just in case he can't play. Many seem to think his career is over. Others think the team doesn't want him (even though he improved so much last year before getting injured). So once again, the Lions must take an offensive tackle to start at RT and eventually move to LT to replace the ancient Jeff Backus who surely (don't call him Shirley) will fall completely apart the day after his next birthday.

The team said they expect Goz to fully recover. The team said they were happy with his improvement last year. The team even had some decent play out of the backups when Goz went down, but no, the man MUST BE REPLACED in 2011, for sure! Perhaps the Lions are indeed covering it up, that his career is over, or that they fear he won't be ready in 2011 to play. Sure, that could be accurate, and I'm sure there are going to be NO Free Agents (whenever free agency starts) that could help out if that were true. Since there is not one single other option and since Goz is next to total invalid status the Lions must draft a tackle, and while they are at it, take a guy who can play RT now and move to LT later... as they are all so very talented and any or all will be able to do this no problem!!!

They (the 2011 tackle draft class), or even just one of them, may very well be that talented. Ahhh... which player is it again? No three draftniks can agree on 1 name.

From there I hear all about how Hilliard is not signed (and of course, never can be later). Fox isn't ready (ahem, neither are the draft picks). Tony Ugoh (who has starting experience) won't help at all. Later round draft picks never develop into starters who can protect the Quarterback (I won't even bother to research that one).

So let me help out all of you who demand the Lions biggest need is a left tackle.

Each and every thing being argued is indeed possible, I will not deny it. But do you know the odds of Backus suddenly being unable to play, Gosder never healing, Hilliard getting picked up elsewhere, Ugoh and Fox being unable to fill in at all ever - even at RT, and all in the same season? I know what the odds are of that all happening... I do! They are exactly the same as the odds of the Lions picking the exact right tackle in the weak 2011 draft class and getting a immediate starting right tackle who can move to left tackle and solely keep Stafford upright forever and ever amen. That's what the odds are.

Oh, I forgot Tom Kowalski's reply to my email about my stance... something to the affect that who says Jeff Backus will actually sign with the Lions once he's a free agent? Well, if he sucks so much and is so old then who would take him? Or how about this one... No team has ever gotten their players to sign an extension in season, even if it's only for another year or two. Lions have half the team who will be free agents next year... what makes offensive tackle trump the other half of the team? (answer, because Stafford has to remain upright... yeah yeah, I know).

Okay, so if you haven't guessed it yet, I do not believe that the Lions biggest need is a left tackle. I also do not believe they even have a roster spot for a starting tackle, and the first round pick SHOULD BE an immediate starter. Finally, I do not believe any of the options in this draft are immediate starters. The Lions do not draft the BPA if there is no roster spot for him, they go to the next name.

By my math then, they Lions will not be drafting a left tackle in round 1 of the 2011 draft. Could they? Sure. My likelihood meter says 10% and that's me being generous.

So what really are the Lions needs then? They could use upgraded starters (that is, they have a potential roster spot for...) an Outside Linebacker, Cornerback, 1 or 2 of the 4 Defensive Ends (should I mention the age and injuries to KVB? nahhh), backup Guard, backup Center, Slot Wide Receiver (or a #2 if Burleson gets moved to slot) and a Running Back to go with Best and Morris. They don't have that many draft picks... and even if they did, who's to say the draft will fall to them in such a way as to pick one of each.

If I were to rank the needs, my ranking would be CB, OLB, DE then WR, G/C, and RB. (notice, no Tackles, on O or D, no QBs or TEs either)

But the Lions don't draft the neediest need first and the least need last... they do look to see if they have a need (a roster spot) for the guys who currently ride the top of the draft chart (BPsA... Best Player(s) Available), but they could fill needs in any order, they could even double up on a spot just to be safe. They would then use free agency to round off the roster and let the camp battles for jobs begin!!! (this is where all the players I and everyone else disses, intentionally or unintentionally, get to prove us wrong and WIN that ROSTER SPOT!!!).

Now, I may have missed a point or two here and there, so feel free to visit my website, you can find a way there to email me if you so wish, or click on the link to my forum, pick up the discussion there if you choose. New forum members are always welcome (even those who still think the Lions will go LT in round 1 this year).

Just remember, when you mock the Lions this year (I made a funny), KVB has been injured more then Jeff Backus, the Lions defense relies totally on getting pressure from the front 4, KVB is aging as fast as Jeff (minute for minute in fact), and if a first rounder was to be picked that plays DE, he would get time on the field without killing our Quarterback whereas a tackle might not get on the field in 2011 at all, or if he does, I can't see it going 100% perfect for Matt or anyone else playing QB.