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?
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" http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/college_big_board_rankings.html&position=wr
Another pro/con link: http://www.sidelinescouting.com/rankings/wr/titus-young.shtml
And at http://www.thehuddlereport.com/ppSD/protected/2010DRAFT/PlayerProfiles/Titus.Young.htm "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: http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/college_big_board_rankings.html&position=rb
Drew talks about how he might be a first rounder here http://www.thehuddlereport.com/ppSD/protected/2010DRAFT/PlayerProfiles/Mike.LeShoure.htm along with more in-depth pros and cons similar to the above.
Another scouting report here: http://www.sidelinescouting.com/rankings/rb/mikel-leshoure.shtml
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.