Sunday, December 30, 2012

Game 16 @ home versus the Chicago Bears


The Detroit Lions close out the 2012 season with their 8th loss in a row for a total of 12 losses by losing to the Chicago Bears at home with a score of 24-26. While a number of people preseason predicted the Lions would struggle to make the playoffs again this year I don't think many, if any, predicted a 4-12 season.

The team played cold, and hot, and cold, all game long... leading the way was the inconsistent play of Matthew Stafford who was 24 of 42 for 272 yards 3 TDs and 1 INT. He also lost 2 fumbles. Meanwhile, Calvin Johnson caught 5 passes for 72 yards falling just short of making the 2,000 yards in one season mark (but still breaking the record held by Jerry Rice last week).

Logan was benched and never returned a kick this game, so last week was probably his final game as a Lion. Jason Hanson made his one field goal in what may be his final game in his career, maybe. For that matter, there are a fairly large number of Lions players that may have just played either their final game as a Lion or their final game in the NFL. Heck, there are even rumors about the coaching staff and front office... most of which I don't think are true as Schwartz and all his coordinators signed new extended contracts just a few months back. Tomorrow is black Monday so we'll see if anyone got themselves fired this year.

So begins the roughly 7 months of off season work, starting with signing or re-signing players for 2013, then the draft, then perhaps some more free agents, OTAs and various other practices. This part at least isn't inconsistent, this part we Lions fans are quite used to. Even the fact the Lions will be drafting in the top 5 is something we are quite used to (unless they actually trade down for more picks). I'm so used to all this in fact I'm in no major hurry to blog about it... but blog about I will, soon. Or as news develops.

The one thing I find amusing though, is how can we fans be so consistently disappointed by a team who is so inconsistent?

I'll let you all ponder on that for a few days as I work up material to blog about.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Game 15 @ home versus Atlanta Falcons


The Detroit Lions lost their 11th game of the year to the Atlanta Falcons with a score of 18-31. That makes 7 losses in a row. Meanwhile, Matthew Stafford is within striking distance of being the first QB ever to hit the 5,000 yard mark in 2 consecutive years. In fact, all kinds of records are occurring, from Lions receiver Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice's NFL single-season yards receiving mark of 1,848. He also became the first player with 100 yards receiving in eight straight games and the first with 10 receptions in four games in a row.

Sorry to report, we're kind of short on record breaking news from the defense or special teams.

I will admit though, it was nice to see the defense call and execute some blitzes. For the most part, the blitzes were producing results, however individual breakdowns still allowed the Falcons high powered offense to score too often. Hopefully a few successful blitzes can be called in every game next year.

The offense was both good and bad. Matthew Stafford was 37 of 56 for 443 yards but with no TDs and 1 INT. The lack of redzone production has haunted the Lions all year and it would appear either the coaching staff has no clue how to fix it or the talent level isn't there (even if the team returned 21 of 22 starters in 2012). Obviously, I'm sorry to report, I'm leaning heavily towards the coaching staff side of the problem.

Special teams saw a new one though... after the defense got a safety the Falcons had to free kick it and Logan caught the ball at the 7 with no one immediately in front of him, then kneeled. Apparently he thought he was in the endzone. I'm sure that'll be the last we'll see of Logan fielding kickoffs, or at most one more week of it, I'm just not yet sure if the special teams coach will be unemployed in a weeks' time.

I've been asked about how likely it is Schwartz will be fired, the answer is I'm sorry to say, not likely at all. He only recently signed a contract extension this past summer and it's reported it was for 3 more years. I'm not as sure about the coordinators though, so we'll see if there's any shakeup coming from those ranks.

The Lions will be drafting between 3rd and 9th with a 5th through 7th being the most likely landing spot, but my forum has been discussing the draft of 2013 for nearly 4 weeks now so most of you probably already know this.

One more week to go, against the Chicago Bears who are vying for a playoff spot (believe it or not) so I'm sorry to say that even though Calvin may put the WR record out of reach for decades to come and even though Stafford may become the first QB to hit 5,000 passing yards in a season in back-to-back years, the odds of them going to 5-11 is very small.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The 2013 Rebuild Part III

Various Lions players need to execute the plays much better then they have in 2012. Some aren't capable of actually playing any better and an upgrade may be required (if it's feasible to do so) to improve the team. One player will be hard pressed to improve... that's Calvin Johnson of course. Even he has made an error here or there that could help the team win games, but they are few and far between and to tell the truth, may not actually help the win column at all. The other 52 players on the team have more work to do.

Matthew Stafford has had up and down games this year. In fact, he's had up and down series within the games this year. He's also getting some blame that is undeserved because various guys who are paid to catch the ball are not catching them, not running their routes correctly, not fighting to get open correctly, not coming back to the QB when flushed out the pocket correctly, and in other words just aren't helping matters much. That said, there are times when his mechanics are off, way off, and there are times when his accuracy isn't anywhere near what it needs to be to thread needles that need threading. In addition to that, he's not going through all his reads and is instead checking down a lot... partly because receivers aren't getting open, partly because the OLine isn't giving him more time... partly because he assumes these things when not true and checks down when it's not needed. I realize that the trust may not be there, I realize the talent may or may not be there, but pocket awareness and mechanics are still key to accurate throws.

The Lions run game is being forced. The OLine may be somewhat decent some of the time at pass blocking but they aren't a power run blocking unit. Never will be. Leshoure was drafted to be a power back when short yardage is needed, he is not an every down back. He shouldn't be being used as one. He's slow, his hands are not that great, and it's not helping the team win games when he's playing. The Lions need a running back and they need better players on the OLine that can both run block AND pass block. Even if it's just one side of the line (as Raiola will never be a power center). Until you have those pieces of the puzzle you should stick to your strengths.

The Lions defense is predicated on a heavy pass rush from the front 4. When healthy the defensive tackles are better then most even if they too have room to improve their game. That said, they are good enough to be getting double teamed most of the time leaving one-on-one coverage with the defensive ends. Play after play the DEs are not getting the job done. Some fans have suggested scrapping the wide 9, others say the Lions need to blitz more (and it wouldn't hurt to do that once in awhile I will grant you), but the biggest need on defense is better DEs. KVB hasn't the gas to make it 60 minutes a game nor 16 games a season any more and Avril isn't the monster he thinks he is. Defensive need number 1 is DE in 2013 especially if you are keeping a defense that absolutely requires a pass rush from the front 4.

The Lions linebackers are playing better of late, unfortunately 2/3 of the corp are free agents next year. The front office needs to make sure that unit doesn't go backwards and obviously improvement would be fantastic but it must at least stay elevated to the level it's currently at.

The Lions secondary saw some draft picks added to their ranks last year and hopefully one or more of them will be worth adding to the starting corp in 2013. Hopefully Delmas will remain healthy and hopefully Houston can be re-signed too. But regardless if those things happen there is a need for some new talent at the safety position and perhaps at the corner position as well. Guys who can tackle (and stay healthy) preferably.

As I've said and as it's been reported the Lions are going to be tight on cap space next year and they have a lot of free agents to either sign or replace. As the Lions have said, they want to build through the draft. When you look at the 2012 season that is currently 4-10 and looking bleak for the last 2 games you wonder how they can turn it around with the current regime in place. But it's not really that black of a future... a few better game management decisions and the Lions had another 2012 win... a few better red zone calls by the OC along with better execution of the plays and the Lions had another couple of 2012 wins... better players on and a more disciplined special teams unit garners at least one win... and more talent on the defense, more young blood actually played, a few key blitzes to make up for the lack of pressure... yeah there's got to be a win there too... add it all up and the 2012 Lions are 9-5 instead of 4-10 and looking to push the Packers out of the way for the division title.

It's (the 2012 season that was) not any one thing that went wrong, it's a little bit of everything that went wrong, and that's why it's so hard to answer the questions being asked. Not one coach or player (perhaps other then CJ) can point a finger at another without also first pointing a finger at themselves.

In my forum ( ) I posted a roster of 53 made up solely of returning players, the forthcoming draft, a few cuts and even fewer re-signed free agents along with some players off the current practice squad (in other words, not a single free agent outside of the Lions organization), and with just a little work it could have fit under next year's cap... so it is possible for the front office to field a team next year without having to suffer cap hell first, it just won't be easy. In the end however, if the players drafted aren't of a better caliber then of late (see part I) and if the coaching staff doesn't do it's part (see part II) then nothing about part III (this blog entry) will matter. After the season is over in a couple of weeks I'll blog here about some potential roster makeups (or mock ups if you will) for next season.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The 2013 Rebuild Part II

Jim Schwartz has input into the draft, input into free agency, control on game day, is in charge of Linehan and Gunny (Gunther Cunningham) (the OC and DC) and all the other coaches, and is also in charge of the 53 on the roster and the practice squad. Ultimately, he is in charge of it all other then having the final say in draft picks.

When he throws a challenge flag on a play that can not be challenged it doesn’t matter who said what to him, he needs to know it’s a penalty and a loss of the challenge. When he plays the wrong guy he needs to be responsible for that action. When the coaches under him play it wrong, he has to own up to it. When his players play incorrectly he is directly responsible for it. When he says a loss is 100% on him, it is, every single time, including the times he doesn’t say it is. Players do not get to remain on the active roster if they continually make the same mistakes over and over and neither do coaches. Should Schwartz not understand what went wrong and should he prove incapable of correcting those mistakes, he is gone. He is not gone for 2013 however as he recently signed a contract extension and is going to be given every chance to show he can indeed fix what ails the Lions (and his own errors).

His (Schwartz’s) very first challenge in 2013 is to look very, very carefully at his OC, his DC and his special teams coordinator. A very important decision must be made as to whether he can improve those positions with other choices. Whatever his final choice is, success is required for his continued employment as the head coach. He has to live with his final decision and so do we fans. There really isn’t any room for error here; Lions fans have had nearly 4 losing seasons for every 1 winning season in the past 50+ years, Lions fans will turn on a dime if they realize the errors can be placed on one individual. At this moment, nearly everyone is confused as to what went wrong, so one more year is granted regardless, a second poor year will be viewed quite differently however, so making the correct choices now is extremely critical.

Time to swallow pride, time to forget friendships, time to make the hard choices, and time to improve the team no matter what it takes. Time to make the right decisions.

I am concerned (since I'm not behind the scenes I can not know the answers either), very concerned, about the ability of the OC and ST coaches to take this team back to the playoffs. I'm extremely curious to see what Schwartz thinks on these issues, not his public comments, but his true feelings on them, his decisions for 2013 will tell the tale.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The 2013 rebuild part I

After the NFL’s worst team ever went 0-16 in 2008 Matt Millen was replaced by Martin Mayhew who went on to hire Jim Schwartz as head coach. The largest rebuild of an NFL team ever had begun (that would be in my opinion anyway). Mayhew and company had a plan to rebuild the team and a large part of that plan was to build the team through the draft (as various other perennially competitive teams do such as the Green Bay Packers).

Total disclosure: after nearly every one of the drafts under Mayhew I was quite pleased with the results immediately after the draft, not all the picks, but most of them.

Anyway, the problem with building through the draft is you have to actually draft well. So let’s see how the Lions have done with their drafts under Mayhew and how much those players from those drafts have contributed in the highly anticipated 2012 season.

2009 with a total of 10 draft picks 5 are still on the team and 5 are helping in 2012:

1-1 #1 Matthew Stafford QB Georgia
1-20 #20 Brandon Pettigrew TE Oklahoma State
2-1 #33 Louis Delmas DB Western Michigan
3-12 #76 DeAndre Levy LB Wisconsin
3-18 #82 Derrick Williams WR Penn State
4-15 #115 Sammie Lee Hill DT Stillman
6-19 #192 Aaron Brown RB Texas Christian
7-19 #228 Lydon Murtha T Nebraska
7-26 #235 Zack Follett LB California
7-46 #255 Dan Gronkowski TE Maryland

2010 with a total of 6 draft picks 5 are still on the team and 2 are helping in 2012:
1-2 #2 Ndamukong Suh DT Nebraska
1-30 #30 Jahvid Best RB California
3-2 #66 Amari Spievey DB Iowa
4-30 #128 Jason Fox T Miami (FL)
7-6 #213 Willie Young DE North Carolina State
7-48 #255 Timothy Toone WR Weber State

2011 with a total of 5 draft picks 3 are still on the team and 2 are helping in 2012:
1-13 #13 Nick Fairley DT Auburn
2-12 #44 Titus Young WR Boise State
2-25 #57 Mikel Leshoure RB Illinois
5-26 #157 Douglas Hogue LB Syracuse
7-6 #209 Johnny Culbreath T South Carolina State

2012 with a total of 8 draft picks all are still on the team and well, some have helped here and there in 2012:
1-23 #23 Riley Reiff T Iowa
2-22 #54 Ryan Broyles WR Oklahoma
3-22 #85 Dwight Bentley DB Louisiana-Lafayette
4-30 #125 Ronnell Lewis LB Oklahoma
5-3 #138 Tahir Whitehead LB Temple (traded 2013’s 4th to get)
5-13 #148 Chris Greenwood DB Albion
6-26 #196 Jonte Green DB New Mexico State
7-16 #223 Travis Lewis LB Oklahoma

Since none of the 2012 draft picks are starters or even heavy rotational players yet at this point, let’s look at just the first 3 years. 21 picks, 8 are starting and 1 is rotated in somewhat regularly. I’m not sure what the percentage needs to be to make building through the draft a viable plan, but one would think something closer to 60% or more would be helpful. At closer to 40% then 50% you kind of have to say there is room for improvement. A lot of room for improvement. One could even say that other then 2009 the draft have been somewhat of a rather large disappointment actually.

So step 1 in the Detroit Lions 2013 rebuild plan is to, in fact, draft better. All the great wheeling and dealing in the world doesn’t help if the selections keep failing in future years to add to your core team.

We already know it’s easy to do worse then Mayhew has done and equally hard to do better, but doing better is going to have to be a requirement to keep the job and improve the team.

For a complete list of the Lions drafts please visit

Monday, December 17, 2012

Game 14 @ Arizona Cardinals

Nothing to play for.

The Detroit Lions lost to the Arizona Cardinals 10-38 dropping their record to 4-10 on the year. Calvin Johnson became the first player in NFL history with consecutive 1,600-yard receiving seasons and tied an NFL record with 7 straight 100-yard receiving games. Unfortunately, the Lions have lost 6 games in a row in the same span. Other then Calvin Johnson being within a couple hundred yards of setting a new NFL yardage record for a wide receiver (currently held by Jerry Rice) the Lions don't have anything much to play for.

Except their livelihood, of course. Not only are they playing for their jobs with the Lions, but so many of the team are free agents in a couple months that they are also playing for a job on another team if they can find one. You really couldn't tell that by this game however. The fight for a win, the fight for themselves, was hard to see if it existed at all. I'd have to include the coaching staff in that boat as well, I don't think they can really bring back all of them and expect different results.

Then again, unless the drafting and free agency pickups if any (which always appears great on paper at the beginning of the year) don't dramatically improve with actual results it won't much matter who is coaching, or who is playing, or what draft position the Lions are heading towards... since there won't be anything to play for in the future either.

By the way, if you want to know what is wrong with the offense aside from the lack of touchdowns you need look no further then the stats for number of receptions. CJ had 10 which is great, and everyone else on the team had 3 or less, which is not good at all. Now you can blame injuries for this game, but they weren't all injured all season, and this issue hasn't just recently cropped up either. Is this issue due to Linehan or Stafford becomes the question (or as I believe it to be, both). The other part of that question is, why isn't Schwartz doing anything about it, or if he is, why isn't it working. Meanwhile, Stafford heads towards his 2nd year in the record books along with Calvin Johnson, but no one else is being much of threat, so how safe is Mayhew in all this? Considering how long Millen got, I'd say Mayhew is quite safe, and probably Schwartz too, but if everyone is safe what will change to make the future brighter?

You got to give the fans something to pay for.

In addition to counting down to the draft (the Lions are currently sitting in the 5th spot) there is free agency (with almost no cap space to play in) and of course there may be coaching or front office moves... you would think that someone in the organization would figure this out and spread the word, giving everyone something to play for... but apparently that has not yet happened. If it has, if this is the team in total playing as well as they possibly can, it's already going to be a long 2013.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Game 13 @ Green Bay Packers


For the 22nd year in a row the Green Bay Packers won their home game against the Detroit Lions with a final score of 20-27 giving the Packers 1st place in the division and the Lions a 4-9 record.

The Lions defense held Aaron Rodgers to 14 completions on 24 pass attempts for 173 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. That alone was quite an accomplishment. Meanwhile, Matthew Stafford was 27 of 45 for 264 yards and one touchdown to go with his one interception and a funble.

Some will say the refs were the reason for the loss, others will blame the secondary, I shall go with a combination of Stafford, the weather, and injuries. Playing Durham who was on the practice squad just last week as the number 2 WR because of injuries to Burleson, Young, Broyles, and finally Pettigrew was more then the offense could overcome. The weather appeared to cause Stafford to fumble the ball on a key play early in the game and then later in the game Stafford became very very inaccurate. In the end though a loss is a loss and the only fix for the team is more talent. What is about to happen is a mini-rebuild due to the fact the Lions are talent deficient at various positions, low on cap space for next year, and have a lot of players who are in their final year of their contracts. The current rebuild from the Millen years has run out of time.

I have created a spreadsheet of the current players on the Lions roster, whether they are under contract for 2013, what their cap hit will be if kept, cap hit if cut or traded, and cap hit if cut after June 1st 2013. You will find this at

If want have the time, you can look over this sheet and find out the state of the roster. You should conclude that the Lions have (as it stands right now) less then $12 million in cap space for next year and will need about 17 players. More if they cut or trade some current players... of course, strategic cuts would free up some cap space. Some contracts could be reworked as well to free up more cap space but at a cost of future cap space. It may be the right time to eat some cap in one year in order to be more competitive in future years. That is, if the coaching staff and front office haven't run out of time as well.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Game 12 @ home against the Indianapolis Colts

That's Okay.

The Detroit Lions lose to the Indianapolis Colts 33-35 taking their 2012 NFL record down to 4-8... but that's okay.

Matthew Stafford was 27 of 46 for 313 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Andrew Luck was 24 of 54 for 391 yards, 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Both the score and the QB stats make it sound like it was a close game, but it wasn't. The lions had this game completely in hand leading by 2 scores for most of the game right up until their final field goal with 4 minutes and 9 seconds remaining on the game clock. The Lions once again felt they could seal the win using the ever popular prevent defense coupled with an ultra conservative offense to run out the clock. It failed spectacularly. But, that's okay.

Mikel Leshoure had 21 carries for a whopping 57 yards and a touchdown, the longest run being 7 yards. 21 carries! For 57 yards! Joique Bell had only 7 carries for 81 yards. Yet the infinitely wise coaching staff continues to play Leshoure play after play. I applaud them their stout determination to get Leshoure the ball more then any player on the team, it really is helping them win games. Yes, I'm being facetious. That's okay.

It's all worth it because Calvin Johnson is breaking the Madden Curse and on his way to breaking Jerry Rice's single season receiving record!!!

What? You'd rather the Lions make the playoffs? That opportunity was pretty much gone weeks ago... it's only now that the math agrees with that sentiment.

Did you know that 8 different players caught a Stafford pass this game? That's right, 7 players caught a total of 14 passes and 1 player (Megatron) was the recipient of the other 13 passes. That is not what they mean by spreading it around.

I'm not entirely sure exactly which players and coaches are afraid to win, but that is why the Lions are 4 and 8. The best receiver is Calvin Johnson, the best running back is Joique Bell, hardly any other players did squat, so in the final 2 minutes of the game you do not keep giving the ball to the RB averaging 2.7 yards a carry and thus giving the ball right back to a guy named Luck. You do not trust your patched together defense to hold, no matter how well they played before. You do not go to what has lost you games previously this year and that is "playing not to lose". Do you know why? Because, you lose. You are not good enough to play prevent up only 2 scores. You are not good enough to kill a clock handing the ball to Leshoure. You are not good enough to play conservatively, at all, ever, during the game. Let up off the throttle and you stop moving, you stop moving you get stuck. Now you are 4 and 8 and wondering what went wrong, but you know what, that's okay.

Why do I keep saying it's okay? Because obviously someone is too stupid to figure this out... what's the sense in trying to make the playoffs only to lose and go home the first game. We fans don't need another first round loss, we fans want to win, in regular season and in post season. So if it's necessary for all these mistakes to be made to learn from them, then let's get them all out of the way in one year. Learn from it and don't do it again. That's what you the coaching staff tell your players, and that is what we the fans who invest ourselves so heavily in this team say to you.

You want to make a ton of mistakes, miss the playoffs, go 4 and 8, that's okay. Just, ah, learn from it and don't never EVER do it again!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Game 11 @ home against the Houston Texans

Too much.

The now 4-7 Detroit Lions lost to the Houston Texans 31-34 Thanksgiving afternoon in overtime. Too much happened in this game to blog it all in one sitting... so I'll post a link to an NFL article on some of it and go after a few key points.

Matthew Stafford was 31 of 61 for 441 yards and 2 TDs with no INTs. Great fantasy numbers, not as great winning numbers. Oh he played well at times and spread the ball around pretty good. He made some smart decisions to avoid sacks. I probably wouldn't even mention his game at all except I know he could do better, especially at the end to put the game away.

Titus Young may have watched his teammates play from his home as he wasn't allowed to practice this week nor play in the game. If he did he got to see Broyles get 6 catches for 126 yards and generally play very well. If this punishment doesn't fix his issues then I got to believe we won't be seeing too much of him in a Lions jersey any more.

Joique Bell ran for 47 yards on 5 plays, got a TD, and outplayed Mikel Leshoure (who had 32 yards on 12 plays and 1 TD). Mikel's numbers are more in line with what I expected from him every game, so perhaps Bell will now be moved up the depth chart to starter. Kevin Smith failed to make the best of his opportunities today and that makes Bell the best RB on the team (in my opinion).

When all's said and done, there were just too many mistakes, too much gone wrong, for the Lions to pull off a win. There were a number of plays that single handedly could've won the game for the Lions, such as the Flag on the Lions challenge flag, the strip of the ball from Pettigrew, the failed Pick 6 by KVB, and the missed field goal by Jason Hanson... but there were multiple other less noticeable plays that affected the final outcome as well. More wrong routes, more bad run fits, various untimely penalties, and on the list goes. Don't get me wrong, there were a ton of good and even great plays throughout the game, it's just that there was too much that went wrong to make them matter.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Game 10 @ Home against the Green Bay Packers

Crash and Burn

My original blog entry is no where to be found, apparently the reboot occurred before the report was published, so I shall start over from scratch.

The Lions don't get to start over though, they have to live with their 4-6 record after losing to the Green Bay Packers 20-24 on Sunday. The Lions led the Packers for 3 quarters before they crashed and burned.

Stafford had a whopping 17 completions on 39 attempts for 266 yards 1 TD and 2 INTs. Considering the defense they were up against these numbers are somewhere in the neighborhood of horrid. Not the interceptions so much, but the completions and TDs. Give me 3 more TDs and 1 more INT and this game is all Lions... but no, despite a few aggressive plays early (which were absolutely great to see) the conservative nature of either Linehan or Stafford (or perhaps both) eventually came through... and with Stafford simply incapable of completing even half his passes there was no room for the lack of aggressive play.

Some will point out that Rodgers only had 19 completions on 27 attempts for 236 yards and 2 TDs with 1 INT. Not superb numbers on his own behalf. However, the completion percentage was not below 50% and his TDs outnumbered his INTs. Rodgers did not crash and burn, not in this game.

I'm going to skip my complaints about various other players on the team for a week so I can look into the past and make good on a bet I made about a year ago. I was wrong, utterly wrong, about Mikel Leshoure and his playing in the NFL again (after injuring his Achilles last year). I said back then that he would never accrue 500 yards rushing as a Lion. His record now exceeds 500 yards this year with the numbers from this game, so I was wrong. I think my bet was with Ty, but after an hour of searching the archives I can't find the wording... so I'll post more on this later when someone with more time then me finds what it is I'm supposed to be saying... I still think Leshoure is slow, has poor hands, and isn't the best RB on the team, but I can't account for the stubborn coaching staff so I'm left eating crow. I must say that crow would taste much better with a 6-4 record then a 4-6 record, so I may, just may, be getting a little more critical of various parts of the 2012 Lions team from here on out. I'm not too keen on losing bets or watching my team crash and burn.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Game 9 @ Minnesota Vikings

Not that good.

The Detroit Lions went to 4-5 on the season when the now 6-4 Minnesota Vikings beat them today 34-24 in Minnesota. Now that Chicago lost tonight the Lions had a perfect chance to level the division playing field and blew it. Blew it so bad in fact that I guess I'll just have to admit that they are not that good.

Matthew "Harrington" Stafford (my new nickname for him) went for 28 on 42 for 329 yards and 3 TDs with 1 INT. Most of the positive coming in the last third of the game once again. If he is going to continue to play that conservatively for the first 40 minutes of every game the Lions will never be sniffing the playoffs again with him at quarterback. Ponder was 24 of 32 for 221 yards, 2 TDs and no INTs and he's not that good (in my opinion).

Calvin Johnson, who is that good, got 12 receptions for 207 yards and a TD despite playing in quite a bit of pain. If every Lions player gave it their all like he does they'd be near enough unbeatable.

Special Teams played much better this time around though they still have room for improvement.

Defense started out great but it wasn't long and the run fits went AWOL. Too many players trying to make splash plays instead of just playing solid and allowing the splash plays to happen when they can. Or, perhaps, they just are not that good either.

What it boils down to is simple... the easier way to the playoffs just went out the window... now it's all dog fight every week. The team needs to play much better if they want to play into January. If they do not, then they are not that good after all and we'll be talking draft by December 1st (some started tonight).

Friday, November 9, 2012

Extra! Extra! A Vikings Pre-Game Extra.

The writer for Kick Ass Blog (Vikings) and I agreed to write an article for each others site. Mine can be located at his blog So without further ado, here is a Vikings Pre-Game Extra Edition:

The Minnesota Vikings are going in the wrong direction. A surprisingly strong 5-2 start is a fading memory. The club has lost three of its last four games and had their asses handed to them two weeks in a row by Tampa Bay and Seattle. Confidence is at a season low. This is great news, of course, if you’re a Detroit Lions fan. What better way to keep the recent good times rolling than to play a young team that is struggling badly.

The struggles start with quarterback Christian Ponder, who didn’t do much in the road win against your Lions in late September. But that performance (16-26, 111 yards, no TDs or interceptions) was All-Pro-like compared to how he played last week in the loss to Seattle (63 passing yards! 63!). Ponder’s shown poor pocket awareness during his 19 starts in the NFL, but poor has morphed into abysmal the past three weeks. It’s affecting his decision-making, his mechanics and his throwing accuracy. He might be the worst starting QB in the NFL right now.

While Ponder has been playing unwatchable football, the Vikings ineptness in the passing game has truly been a team effort. Their wide receivers can’t beat opposing DBs one-on-one, whether they are running short or long routes. The offensive line has really struggled to pass protect the pass two weeks, particularly against blitzes. And tight end Kyle Rudolph has gone from a dangerous weapon to Mr. Blank Stat Sheet during this slump. What should really make Lions fans smile is that Percy Harvin – the NFL’s Most Dangerous Man – has a sprained left ankle and said on Monday he was a “long shot” to play Sunday. Without Harvin around, the Vikings offense become even easier to defend. Harvin's absence also means the Lions don't have to deal with him on kickoff returns.

I understand the Lions aren’t a very good blitzing team (your defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham has said so). But it might be worth a try in this game because Ponder has been curling up in the fetal position at the first smell of pressure. If the Lions front seven can get any type of heat on Ponder Sunday, it should be a banner day for the Detroit defense.

Offensively for Detroit, in the first game against the Vikings, Minnesota made the Lions one-dimensional by smothering Mikel Leshoure and Company. That allowed the Vikings to play their safeties deep with an eye towards preventing the big plays to Megatron, and forcing Matt Stafford – who looked out of sorts most of the game – to beat them with short stuff. It worked. But the Lions run game seems to have improved of late and I don’t think the Vikings defense will be able to shut it down like it did at Ford Field. The Vikings last four opponents have run wild on them. Its front seven is getting pushed around and not playing its gaps very well. And the tackling – so solid in the win against Detroit – has been awful of late.

We all know Detroit is a passing team, but it should try to establish the run with Leshoure and Joique Bell running at what has been a very soft middle of the Vikings defense. Force the Vikings to respect the run, and it will allow Stafford to use play-action effectively and give him a clean pocket to pass from. The Lions offense doesn’t have to worry about turnovers, either, because the Minnesota defense doesn’t force any (just three in the last four games). The secondary is much improved over the sorry crew the Vikings ran out there in 2011, but if the Lions are able to run the ball effectively, and Stafford gets time to throw it, the Vikes Cover Two zones will only hold up for so long.

To win this game, the Lions really just need to stay out of their own way. Play a turnover-free game on offense and take advantage of the Vikings poor tackling and gap coverage to score 25-plus points. Then force Ponder and his wide receivers to beat you – it’s highly doubtful they are up to the task.

Oh, yes, one other thing – your defense must stop Adrian Peterson. Roughly 10 months removed from blowing out his left knee, Peterson is on fire right now. He’s rushed for 458 yards in his last three games on just 55 carries (8.3 yards per carry), and he’s shown the agility, burst and “make-you-miss” ability that guy’s coming off reconstructive knee surgery just aren’t supposed to possess this soon. Peterson’s generally run very well against the Lions, and if Detroit’s defense can’t stop him, that gives the Vikings a chance to win this game. Bottle him up somehow – especially if Harvin can't play – and it's hard for this Vikings fans to envision how Minnesota wins this game without the Lions totally self-destructing.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Game 8 @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Not bad.

The Detroit Lions beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-14 today bringing their record to 4-4 on the season. All 4 touchdowns were run plays, 3 by Leshoure and 1 by Bell. The Lions were up 21-0 at half time for a relatively stress free game. However, instead of my proclaiming the team fully cured of all woes I think I'll grade them out at "not bad".

Matthew Stafford was 22 of 33 for 285 yards, no TDs and no INTs. He started out with some throws that were much too high (accomplished by his refusal to step into his throws, or in other words, bad mechanics) but eventually settled down and began to make more throws then not. It wasn't one of his higher yardage games considering the opponent nor was there a single passing TD, still, his game wasn't bad.

Mikel Leshoure had 3 touchdowns which is great, but his total yardage was a mere 70 yards. When he did get into the open field with one guy to beat he'd usually lower his shoulder and punish the tackler... but he'd still get tackled. I'm not convinced he couldn't juke his way past the sole defender and actually put up a run bigger then 14 yards if he wouldn't lower his shoulder but apparently he'd rather seek contact. I did notice his patience has improved greatly when it comes to waiting for his blockers, in fact, I was most impressed with that in this game. So for having patience and 3 TDs despite the lack of yardage I'll give him a "not bad" as well.

I should note that the Lions rotated in Bell a lot (and even Kevin Smith a couple times) so while Leshoure had 3 TDs on 16 carries Bell had more yards (73) on only 13 carries to lead the team (and 1 TD to go with it).

The passing game was also in the "not bad" category with Calvin Johnson going for 129 yards on 7 catches and Broyles 52 yards on 6 catches. Titus Young didn't catch a sure touchdown (it was perfectly thrown too) and had some other bad attempts to net only 2 catches for 20 yards in a week he should've established himself as a big time threat. Since that didn't happen there won't be much game planning around him any time soon.

The Lions special teams did nothing great nor anything stupid for a nice solid "not bad" grade and the Lions defense held the *ahem* "mighty" Jaguars to 64 yards rushing and 215 yards receiving further cushioning their single digit rank in the NFL (the Lions went into the game with the 9th ranked D in the league). Not bad.

Overall while the game wasn't spectacular, while it wasn't a huge blowout, it was a win over a team they were supposed to beat on the road, and it was relatively stress free watching it for there was never any feeling that the Jaguars were going to force a 4th quarter come back or overtime or other odd finish.

The coaches will be happy there were only 5 penalties for 42 yards, the coaching was good, the play calling sufficiently mixed to make predicting what play was being called difficult, and I don't recall any serious injuries.

I'd love to get all confident that the next game will be equally as easy to win but I think I saw a team simply coast to a win... perhaps it was all the prevent defense that got me in that mood. (My readers know how much I love the prevent defense).

There is one more stat of interest though, Matthew Stafford is AHEAD of last year in passing yardage. That's right, through 8 games this year he is ahead of last year to this point. Not bad.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Game 7 @ home against the Seattle Seahawks


The Detroit Lions managed a 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Detroit today taking them to a record of 3-4. Matthew Stafford threw 3 touchdowns and ran another in himself accounting for all the Lions points. No field goals. That red zone efficiency is why they won the game, 7 points versus 3, or 4 more points per score.

Stafford was 34 of 49 passing for 352 yards 3 TDs and 1 INT (plus 12 yards rushing and a TD). The primary recipient of those yards was Titus Young who caught 9 passes for 100 yards and 2 TDs.

The defense helped in the team effort by getting an interception (Silva) and pressuring Wilson for much of the game. Special teams made no critical errors. The play calling was in my opinion better then recent weeks. Stafford was even more willing to go down field earlier in the game then usual. Overall, it amounted to just enough to win a game against a tough opponent.

There is plenty of room for improvement but if the team can continue to play at least this well or better then they can make it to .500 next week and hopefully stay there. I fully expect their record to be 4-4 after they play in Florida against the Jaguars next week.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Game 6 @ Chicago Bears


The Detroit Lions lose this game 7-13 making them 4th in the division and the only team below .500 (they're 2-4) in the NFC North. What a frustrating season this has been so far.

It's also extremely frustrating that Matthew Stafford just will not step into his throws. It's like, yeah okay, you got a great arm, but mechanics are still critical to succeeding in the NFL. In fact, I'd say if he continues to struggle and continues to fail to use proper mechanics then it's time to sit him in favor of Hill to drive the point home.

It's frustrating that the Lions keeps using a power runner all the time who has no speed and threatens no defense and sets up nothing in the passing game. You can't play action off of a non-threat. I would think Linehan would know this but perhaps not.

It's frustrating that many of the players have forgotten you actually have to play hard to win in this league. You also have to hang onto the ball. Especially if you're the return man who returns almost nothing.

It's frustrating that every receiver (and tight end) has issues completing the catch. One of which we won't have to worry about now is Nate Burleson, apparently he broke his leg in this game and will end up on IR.

Even the defense frustrated me despite playing fairly well and holding the Bears to just 13 points. More often then not a play to keep a drive alive was allowed and yet I know they were very tired from the offense not putting any drives together that amounted to much of anything. Maybe I was just too frustrated to appreciate their effort this game.

In the end, everyone should be frustrated as the 2012 season is slipping away little by little... it won't be long and we'll be talking draft.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Game 5 @ Philadelphia Eagles

Much Better.

Following the bye week the Lions were much better prepared for this week's foe, the Eagles. Even though it took 3 quarters to get "warmed up" and overtime to secure the win, the Lions finally managed to gain control of the game and win it 26-23. While they didn't dominate they did keep playing, and play hard.

Both Stafford and Vick threw for 311 yards (yes, an exact tie). Vick had 2 TDs but 2 INTs while Stafford had the 1 TD and only 1 INT. The Lions had a much better run game which is surprising, and while the Lions also had more penalties the Eagles had more turnovers lost. The winner of the game was the Detroit Lions' defensive line (and the Lions team themselves). The Dline played much better then in any game so far this year.

Yes, Special Teams were improved. No, the Lions offense still isn't all that unless they are 2 scores behind in the 4th quarter... but Vick will be sore for a very long time after this game and it's all because the Lions DLine played much better then in the past.

There is one more factor that must be brought to light though, the best player on the Lions D hadn't played until today... one Louis Delmas.

Just like last year, the Lions defense plays much better when he is in the game.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Game 4 @ home against the Minnesota Vikings

That wasn't it.

The Detroit Lions lose to the Minnesota Vikings 13-20 in a game that never seemed that close. Their record is now 1-3, good enough for last place in the division. Matthew Stafford completed 30 of 51 pass attempts for 319 yards with NO touchdowns and NO interceptions, though he did go over the top on a 1 yard "run" for the team's only touchdown. Were all his passes perfect? No, they weren't, not all of them, was it why they lost the game? No, that wasn't it.

The Vikings (namely Ponder) went 16 for 26 and 111 yards with NO touchdowns and NO interceptions. Did the Vikings passing game win the game for them? No, that wasn't it.

The Vikings biggest weapon is Adrian Peterson but the Lions managed to allow him only 102 yards on 21 carries. He also had only 20 yards on 4 catches. Meanwhile the Lions utilized the services of Mikel Leshoure for most of the game, he managed a whopping 26 yards on 13 carries but 14 of those were on one play so other then that one play he had 12 yards on 12 carries. Yet Kevin Smith rarely saw the field if he did at all. Leshoure also had 37 yards on 4 catches. While the game was being played I was able to correctly call 4 plays in a row before they lined up just based on what Linehan has been doing, very VERY predictable. While these things made winning a whole lot harder then it had to be, was this the reason the Lions lost? No, that wasn't it.

The Lions had 5 penalties for 72 yards and the Vikings 87 yards on 5 penalties as well. The "regular" refs called the game instead of the temps, were the refs the reason (either now or in the previous games) the Lions lost? No, that wasn't it.

For the first time in the NFL history a team had both a kick return and a punt return go for a touchdown in back to back games. This was done against the Lions' special teams this and last week when guys didn't stay in their lanes. In both games the score would've been such that without those 14 points given up by special teams the outcome of the game may have easily been completely different (meaning the Lions might have been able to win). Is this why the Lions lost? Perhaps. It certainly made things much much worse then they needed to be.

There is not a single stat that will point the way to why the Lions lost (again). There is not one single individual that can be blamed for the losses, except for one. It's not a player, or a ref, or a position coach... it's the head coach. He and he alone is in charge of the coordinators, and he and he alone is responsible for making sure the players are both ready to play and are playing as hard as they can (which allows their talent to rise to the top). The coordinators are NOT doing a very good job and individual players are NOT playing like they are capable of. They are much too talented to be playing like they are.

Next week is the bye week. Let's hope that coach Schwartz is able to review everything and come to the correct conclusions and furthermore is able to get first the coordinators and then the players to do WHAT THEY ARE CAPABLE OF DOING. I'm looking for changes starting from the top and going all the way to the bottom before the Eagles game in week 6.

Changes don't mean firings and cuts, changes mean fixing the play calling, fixing the execution by the players, and getting the team to play like the team can. Anything other then this will not do. Fixing something other then this will only leave us all once again saying... that wasn't it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Game 3 @ Tennessee Titans

Blew it.

The Detroit Lions blew it, losing to the Titans 41-44 in overtime in one of the strangest games I've ever seen. The Titans scored a field goal in overtime first leaving the Lions a chance to win or tie it back up should they be able to drive down the field and score. They did drive down the field, then stalled, then while trying to draw the defense off sides on 4th down Raiola snapped the ball and a very surprised Hill (who was at Quarterback for an injured Stafford) tried a two man quarterback sneak that failed utterly for an immediate loss.

Coach Schwartz said that noise was a factor in the play. I assume that means that Raiola failed to hear that there was not supposed to be an actual snap of the ball. If so, he blew it.

I find myself unable to adequately explain all the blown plays by both teams, all the blown calls by the refs (I don't choose to use the word "replacement" since I've never been all that impressed with the full timers either), and then there's the coaches who I believe blew it as well.

My one point of criticism this week is why is this high powered offense with a quarterback who threw for over 5,000 yards last year being choked to death by called run plays which are only somewhat effective for 3 weeks straight? Who is it that is so afraid of going down the field via passing? That person may be doing what they are supposed to by the rules of their scheme, but if so, the scheme is in need of some serious adjustment as teams apparently have figured it out.

In fact, if the scheme, or play calling, or play execution, or whatever it is that is causing the Lions to blow these games instead of challenging teams (read as attacking) doesn't change immediately, then the Lions will have blew this season as well, they have roughly 12 hours from now to figure that out.

The 2012 season is in the balance... don't blow it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Game 2 @ San Francisco 49ers


Mistakes by the Lions contributed to a loss against the 49ers Sunday night in San Francisco. The final score was 19-27 but it never seemed like the game was that close, even though it pretty much was all game long. This is not to say the 49ers didn't make mistakes because they did. If you actually care about the officiating battle going on and the replacement refs then you could harp about the mistakes they made too. I'm not going there, the normal refs make errors, the replacement refs make errors, and as long as they are more or less consistent in their calls so what. I will note though that the results of not calling the holding penalties negates the Lions DLine just like it did in the playoffs last year against the Saints. (see the January blog entry on the Saints game).

So assuming the refs make nearly the same number of and same kind of mistakes for both teams, and assuming the 49ers would make mistakes regardless of the Lions, what mistakes matter?

Alex Smith was 20 for 31 for 226 yards and 2 touchdowns with 0 interceptions.

Matt Stafford was 19 for 32 for 230 yards and 1 touchdown with 1 interceptions.

Gore had 17 carries for 89 yards and 1 touchdown with the long being 16 yards.

Kevin Smith had 16 carries for 53 yards and 0 touchdowns with the long being 9 yards.

The Lions recovered 1 of the 2 fumbles the 49ers had, the Lions had no fumbles.

Backup Running Backs had the same number of total carries, 49ers produced more yards. Time of possession was nearly identical.

3rd down efficiency perhaps? The Lions Third Down Efficiency was 6 of 15 for 40% and the 49ers Third Down Efficiency was 4 of 11 for 36%. Surprised? Me too.

First downs though is where the two teams diverged. The Lions had 15 First Downs to the 49ers 24 First Downs, that 60% better and obviously from the previous stat on 3rd downs these first downs came on 1st and 2nd downs. The 49ers have a better defense (duh) and the Lions needed to play a perfect game to win, they did not and they lost. It wasn't a single player, it wasn't a single thing or call or even a big mistake... it was the total accumulation of all the small mistakes.

The good news? This IS the best defense in the league and the Lions lost by 1 score... no one else they play will have as good a defense. Bodes well for the future.

Meanwhile the coaches have material to work with, things to correct, mistakes to fix, and that will make the team even better for the time they play another good defense.

The Lions are 1-1. I am batting .1000 in my pre-season prediction, and get ready for a nice roll starting next week... assuming there are no large mistakes made.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Game 1 2012 @ home against the St Louis Rams


In the first game of the official 2012 season the Detroit Lions managed to win the game 27-23 in a game that should've been a lot easier to win. During the game a lot of tweets suggested that the 3 turnovers were Matthew Stafford's fault. As in completely his fault. I didn't agree with them about that then and I still don't.

I blame the new coaching staff of the Rams and the Rams players for executing the defense perfectly. Jeff Fisher (previously Schwartz's boss) had a great game plan that I hope other teams aren't able to emulate. The coaches realized that if various players on the Lions offense are in single coverage that they immediately become the target. So what did they do? They pealed off guys who were defending one guy (which originally left a player such as Calvin Johnson in single coverage) and had him flow to that single covered player, allowing the defender to make a play on the target who suddenly finds himself in double coverage.

The Lions eventually figured out how to counter those moves but not until playing more then a quarter gun-shy. Now I'm not saying that Stafford couldn't make better throws or saw the coverage shifting, but the bait and switch that was the Rams' defense was pretty ingenious.

Stafford still nearly doubled Bradford's completion numbers and except for the 3 interceptions had a much better day. The Lions also doubled the Rams first down numbers. One of the most notable stats is that the Lions kept the Rams running game to a mere 78 yards rushing. They may have had only 83 yards themselves but in their offense that is pretty much normal. Those numbers won't cut it for the Rams.

The most notable item of the game though was the lack of Titus Young for the majority of the game, and once the commissioner gets done with him, he may be a whole lot broker. Apparently Titus decided to, after a play, head butt a defender.

Special teams did well, the offense started and finished great, the defense was up and down but did enough, in the end it was Stafford who drove down the field and got the winning touchdown with less then 2 minutes to go... and I'm betting many a fan didn't think that was going to happen when the drive started. Instead of confidence in our team we are still jaded from the Millen decade (heck, even the Scott Mitchell decade) and just can't quite muster up the swag needed to root for a final drive to win the game with any expectation of the Lions pulling it off.

We fans... we need as much confidence as Stafford already has.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Detroit Lions 2012 Season Prediction

The Detroit Lions are coming off of a 10-6 season making the playoffs as a wildcard and so are back to their pre-Millen form (complete with a 1 game playoff loss), so what happens in 2012?

First, if you scroll through this blog far enough you will see that I predicted a 10-6 season last year, with that in mind, let's take a peek at the crystal ball for this year...

Week 1 vs. St. Louis Rams: New coaches should help the Rams improve this year, but this is week 1 and they still have a lot of work to do, Lions win this one before half time 27-17. Record 1-0

Week 2 @ San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers pick up where they left off and it's strength vs strength in this matchup, home field advantage helps just enough and Lions lose this one 17-20. Record 1-1

Week 3 @ Tennessee Titans: Another road game and another tough opponent, this time though things turn out a little different. Lions win 13-10. Record 2-1

Week 4 vs. Minnesota Vikings: AP can give any team fits, but the Lions have more weapons and win this one at home easy enough 24-17. Record 3-1

Week 5 is the bye week, a long long week.

Week 6 @ Philadelphia Eagles: With two weeks to prepare the Lions contain Vick and surprise the pundits 28-17. Record 4-1

Week 7 @ Chicago Bears: The Lions always have trouble with the Bears when playing them on their turf... and they do put up a good fight this time too... Lions barely take this one 27-24. Record 5-1

Week 8 vs. Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks have a much better defense then some expected but they are on the Lions turf, Lions win 20-17. Record 6-1

Week 9 @ Jacksonville Jaguars: An away game in a warm climate ... doesn't matter, Lions win 24-17. Record 7-1

Week 10 @ Minnesota Vikings: Ho Hum, another road game, let them "Ponder" this game for awhile, Lions win 35-17. Record 8-1

Week 11 vs. Green Bay Packers: Packers are still good, Lions lose at home 24-27. Record 8-2

Week 12 vs. Houston Texans: 4 days later it's the national stage on Thanksgiving day, what a shoot out. Lions still lose 28-35. Record 8-3

Week 13 vs. Indianapolis Colts: At home playing last year's worst team, hmmm, they are better then they used to be, just not quite there yet, Lions take it 20-12. Record 9-3

Week 14 @ Green Bay Packers: Lambeau Field, ick, Lions lose to the cheeseheads again 27-34. Record 9-4

Week 15 @ Arizona Cardinals: an extremely important game for the Lions and the division record... so of course they lose it 17-20. Record 9-5 after being 8-1 not too long ago.

Week 16 vs. Atlanta Falcons: Falcons need it, Lions need it... home field advantage wins it (man was it loud) 20-17. Record 10-5

[Sidenote: at this point we must hope the Mayan Calendar actually does start over] Week 17 vs. Chicago Bears: Last game of the season, at home, playoffs on the line... good thing the Bears are old and injured (again). 31-17. Record 11-5

One caveat about my predictions... they assume that Stafford, CJ, Suh and Tulloch stay relatively healthy for the season. Any two of them gets hurt and misses more then 3 games and the Lions don't even get to 8-8.

One last prediction, call it my long shot, Lions vs Texans in the superbowl... a rematch of Thanksgiving Day... with a slightly different outcome.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Lions have their 53... or do they.

After months of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), working out, meetings, summer camp, 4 pre-season games and 2 cut down days the Detroit Lions finalized their selections for their 2012 team. Then promptly picked up a player (Florence) who had been cut and to make room for him, let loose Ricardo Silva. Prior to that change my estimated roster was scored... getting 49 right. My best result to date.

Two of the players the Lions kept weren't even on the team when I made up my estimated depth chart a few weeks ago (prior to week 3 of pre-season, which I do every year at about that time).

The Lions had picked up WR Kasim Osgood after the 2nd preseason game and he remains on the roster instead of Patrick Edwards (who did land on the Lions practice squad). I am, of course, going by what I predicted, I have no idea what the Lions may have done had various players stepped up their special teams play.

The Lions also traded for DB Kevin Barnes causing Alphonso Smith to lose his job.

I had the Lions keeping Sean Jones but they opted for Ricardo Silva (as I said above, he lasted for one day or so).

Last, I had the Lions keeping 2 QBs and DE Everette Brown. The Lions opted to cut Brown and keep QB Kellen Moore as a third QB.

Keeping the older veteran players and releasing the younger players has already had one repercussion though... it has been reported the Lions are now over the salary cap and have until Wednesday to get into compliance.

I don't have contract figures for any of the new players (yet) so I can not confirm this, but I have no reason to believe it is in error. That means either some contracts are about to get re-worked (making issues for next year's cap) or a vet is going to be cut and/or traded.

In other words, the final 53 going into week 1 may not be all of these 53 players.

If you go to my depth chart and actually do a count you're going to add up more then 53 players. That's because Mikel LeShoure is suspended for 2 weeks and will not count against the roster until that time is served. In addition to him, Jahvid Best and Chris Greenwood are on PUP and won't count against the roster until 6 to 8 weeks into the season.

The current practice squad consists of:
Rodney Austin (G)
Carmen Messina (LB)
Ross Weaver (CB)
Stephfon Green (RB)
Patrick Edwards (WR)
Kris Durham (WR)
Lorenzo Washington (DE)
Shaun Chapas (RB)

You will note, that at least so far, no 2012 draft pick was cut. The Lions truly are trying to build through the draft.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Let the (2012 Camp) Battles Begin!!!

I have just recently finished updating my Detroit Lions Salary Cap and Estimated Depth Charts, both of which are available for your review ... links to which are on my website, and in doing so I noted a number of interesting camp battles about to begin.

There are so many in fact that it is difficult to know where to start. Guess I'll start with the completely unknown. That is to say, the Lions have room on their roster for at least 1 more body. Whoever gets signed will be competing against someone on the roster for a job and a chance to make the final 53. In addition to that, at any given moment the Lions could sign someone else and cut a body to make room for him, creating even more competition. Needless to say, being the last guy (#90) on the roster is not a safe place to be! All the undrafted guys need to make sure they are not that 90th (or as the case may be right now, the 89th) guy or their NFL career could be over before the next set of OTA's if not sooner. The most expendable guy will always be competing against every player available in free agency, the rest of the unsigned undrafted ranks, and any player cut at any time by any other team. Like I said though, the Lions still have one spot available so unless they go ahead and sign two new names, the last guy on the roster (that is to say, the last guy on the non-existent depth chart) may get just a little more time to move up ahead of someone else.

Leaving off the mystery guy for now, what other hiccups are there? Well, Avril hasn't signed his franchise tag or a long term deal yet but his tag counts against the salary cap so I'm including him in my analysis. Riley Reiff hasn't signed his contract yet but he counts against the 90 maximum players a team can have in preseason so he's also being included. In fact, as the Lions first round pick this year he's guaranteed a roster spot already, it's just a matter of which roster spot. More on this in a little bit.

Now to switch gears and look at the least complicated position group. The Lions typically keep 3 quarterbacks on their 53 man roster. Obviously Matt Stafford isn't going anywhere, they re-signed veteran Shaun Hill to be his backup, and Drew Stanton who left for greener pastures (that's another story) was apparently replaced by Kellen Moore, an undrafted free agent. At this point, the Lions have no other guys who play quarterback under contract so unless something happens, these 3 players make the team and are in that order on the depth chart.

The next least complicated position group is the dedicated special teams players. 3 of the 5 will make the final roster and 2 of those 3 are practically a given. As the only long snapper on the team (that I know of) the newly re-signed Lions veteran Don Muhlbach makes the final cut. One kicker makes the team, between Jason Hanson and Derek Dimke, my money is on Jason Hanson... no matter what anyone says, as long as he can do the job he is the Kicker for the Lions. I didn't see any sign of age catching up to him and the only struggles came from having to switch place holders 3 times during the early part of the season. As for the place holder/punter, it's between Ryan Donahue who beat out Harris last year (only to get injured) and his replacement who finished the season for him, veteran Ben Graham. I prefer Ben Graham myself, I'm just not so sure the Lions do.

Since we have the quarterback situation settled let's finish up the offense.

Running back is complicated because of injury concerns with all the probable starters and the unfinished products of their backups. I think I'm looking at the RB situation a little differently then most though, I don't see it as 7 or 8 guys fighting for 3 or 4 (or even 5) spots. I see two burners in Jahvid Best and Stephfon Greene with Best making the team unless his concussions end his career. Stephfon Greene wasn't drafted and might survive the waiver wire after cuts to make the practice squad. I see two, shall we call them tanks?, in Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell. If (and this is a mighty big if) Mikel Leshoure is completely healed up and can play at the level he was drafted for he will make the final team as the ying to Best/Greene's yang. If he isn't able to go, then Bell takes the ying. Then there's the 3rd RB, the utility guy who can do some of this, some of that, yet not quite a burner or a tank, but can catch the ball and run somewhat as well. Kevin Smith, Keiland Williams and Jerome Harrison will be fighting it out for that spot with Smith being my "most likely to make the team" pick. Could they keep more then 3 running backs? Sure, but then the guy is no longer competing against his own position group but a player from another position group as well (what I mean will become clearer further on).

Did I forget fullback James Bryant in my running back analysis? Nope, actually, I consider his primary competition to be Will Heller, Nathan Overbay, Alez Gottleib, and Austin Wells. The Tight Ends. Brandon Pettigrew makes the team and I just don't see any of these guys beating out Tony Schefler for the #2 spot. However, blocking TE, the 3rd string TE, could easily be a full back. So while Heller has the inside track of making the team, I would put James Bryant as his primary competition for the job, then stick in Overbay, Gottleib and Wells after that. One of these guys could easily be the 90th dude that no one wants to be as well (see previous discussion above on that topic). Overbay, Gottleib and Wells all need to prove very quickly why the brass needs to look at them more.

The Lions have 12 wide receivers under contract. They typically carry 5 into the season but could go to six if someone beats out a player from another position group. I'm going to assume 5 for now. Calvin Johnson has the new contract extension, the Madden curse target on his back, and a guaranteed roster spot. Nate Burleson is a favorite of the OC, a leader on the team, still very productive, and will make the final roster. Titus Young was drafted last year and shown tremendous talent when most rookies do not at wide receiver, so he'll make the team. Ryan Broyles was drafted by the Lions in round 2, was just paid a signing bonus of around $1.1 million and is going to make the team (and if he heals up, he may be the kick returner this year as well). That leaves WR#5. While Stefan Logan held this spot for 2 years running he hasn't shown much versatility in the run or passing game so it's very very possible someone else takes the spot from him this year. I'd say, at this point in time, the two most likely suspects are undrafted free agent Patrick Edwards (who can return punts too) and Nate Hughes (the Lions keep him around every year giving him chance after chance). That still leaves 5 guys fighting it out against Logan, Edwards and Hughes (and potential injured player who goes on IR and/or a possible 6th spot). In order of my most likely we got Lance Long, Marcus Harris, Terrence Toliver, Jared Karsteffer, and Troy Burell. Also note, to date Rashied Davis hasn't signed with a team and is available in free agency.

The last of the offensive roster belongs to the offensive line. Either 8 or 9 guys will make the team. The only three I guarantee will make the final roster is guard Rob Sims, center Dominic Raiola and this year's first round draft pick Riley Reiff. Where or if Reiff starts is what makes this position group so hard to guesstimate. If Reiff starts at Left Tackle it likely means that Jeff Backus is finally unable to start in which case he probably retires. If Backus is healthy and hasn't succumbed to age, then no one will be taking his job from him this year. I see it playing out that way so I'm putting Jeff Backus in as the left tackle barring further developments. Unless Rob Sims gets moved to right guard so that Reiff plays left guard I say that Sims makes the team as the starting left guard. If Sims starts at right guard then I think Peterman fails to make the team. If Reiff ends up the starting right tackle it could mean the end of Gosder Cherilus as a Lion, or Goz could move over to right guard challenging Peterman for the starting job and for a spot on the final roster. The likelihood of Reiff taking Petermans' job outright appears to me to be remote. If Reiff doesn't take a starting job away from someone, he will definitely take a backup job away from someone, and probably at left tackle as he learns from Jeff Backus. The next most likely player to make the final roster is Corey Hilliard, due to his experience and his versatility. It is likely either Jason Fox or Johnny Culbreath makes the final roster as depth at the tackle position if not both of them. That leaves 1, 2 or maybe 3 spots for Jacques McClendon, Dylan Gandy, Dan Gerberry, Quinn Barham, Patrick Boyle, Rodney Austin and JC Oram to fight for. This position group is far and away the most in flux on the offense and the training camp battle for the OLine jobs should prove to be most formidable. Who would've thought just one draft pick could cause this much turmoil.

On to the defense.

At defensive end Cliff Avril has been franchise tagged and the Lions will probably try to work out a long term contract with him sometime in July. He'll make the team one way or the other, I can't believe he wouldn't sign the tag and play the one year for $10.6 million at the very least. KVB bookmarks the DE position unless age kicks his butt this off season. Willie Young and Lawrence Jackson rotate in a lot and both will make the team. The Lions' 4th round draft pick Ronnell Lewis will also make the team and likely push Andre Fluellen off the roster. I don't see much hope for Ugo Chinasa, or Everette Brown or Slade Norris making the team unless someone retires or gets injured, but any of them might make the practice squad.

At defensive tackle the Lions likely keep 4 and they will be Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams, Nick Fairley, and Sammie Lee Hill. Like I said above, Fluellen probably lost his spot to Lewis. Michael Cosgrove and Eddie McClam are also practice squad candidates. I do believe Cory Williams is 32 this year, so it's possible someone younger can steal a roster spot but boy that rookie would have to be very good to do it (and that wouldn't be a bad thing for the team anyway so go for it guys!). There's always a possibility the Lions could keep 10 dlineman instead of 9 this year, but once again, the player would be competing against all the other position groups as well as his own.

The starting linebackers will likely remain the same, at least to start the preseason. DeAndre Levy, Stephen Tulloch and Justin Durant are the guys to beat to earn a starting job. It sounds as though Travis Lewis the Lions 7th round draft pick may end up a backup at MLB behind Tulloch. It's also likely that Tahir Whitehead the 5th round draft pick also makes the final roster. That leaves 1 or maybe 2 spots available for (vets) Ashlee Palmer, Doug Hogue, (and undrafted free agents) Carmen Messina and Ronnie Snead. Special Teams could determine who wins the day.

At Safety the Lions are entering the preseason a little thin unless one or more of the cornerbacks moves to safety. Presently the Lions have Louis Delmas and Amari Spievey starting with Erik Coleman and John Wendling backing up. The depth from there consists of two names; Alonzo Lawrence and Ricardo Silva. Other then Louis Delmas, I'd say that not only is the backup jobs but one starting job available for competition. The Lions may keep 4 or 5 safeties this year. The 5th safety would be competing against the potential 6th cornerback first and for the much coveted position group battle spot second.

With Eric Wright leaving in free agency, the only starting job that is guaranteed to be manned by someone new is at cornerback. Presently it appears as though Chris Houston and Aaron Berry are the starters. The Nickel and Dime positions are open for battle as is a potential 5th and 6th position group roster spot. Fighting for these jobs are Jacob Lacey late of the Colts, 3rd round draft pick Dwight Bentley, 5th round draft pick Chris Greenwood, 6th round draft pick Jonte Green, vets Alphonso Smith, Don Carey, and undrafted player Ross Weaver. If Jonte Green is too "green" as a rookie he would make a good practice squad candidate. The other two draft picks likely make the roster. That leaves only 1 or 2 spots for the rest of the group.

The above makes for 22 offense, 24 defense, 3 special teams, and 4 spots that could be any position fighting against each other and not just their position group for a roster spot. If none of the final roster winners can return kicks and/or punts then Logan makes the team. I am fairly confident that the final roster will consist of at least 3 QB's, 5 WR's, 3 RB's, 3 TE's, 8 OL (total of 22) along with 9 DL, 6 LB's, 9 DB's (total of 24). Last year the roster consisted of 24 O and 26 D for most of the year with brief periods of 23 O and 27 D. My best guess is two spots will go to offense with 1 WR, 1 RB, 1 TE/FB, and 1 OL fighting for those 2 spots. On defense the two spots could be Dline, LB, CB or Safety (obviously)... but if a 3rd guy is better then all the Offensive options they will keep a heavier defensive lopsided roster. Special teams will help determine those last 4 spots.

Of course, even when the Lions cut it back to 53 the bottom of the roster is now susceptible to being replaced by any player cut by any other team. The competition doesn't end on the final cut down day.

As I stated before in my blog, going to my website and selecting depth chart from the menu then clicking on the link to the spreadsheet for my estimated depth chart will bring up the often updated page (assuming you can open excel spreadsheets) at which point you can save a copy to your own computer for your own editing. It is much easier to see the scenarios available in the layout I use (once you get used to it). Please though, do not post your version online without permission from yours truly.

Good luck to the roughly 37 current Lions who are in the 2012 camp battle with the 53 who will make the team, whoever you may be.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lions 2012 Draft, Day 3, Rounds 4 - 7

With the 117th pick in the NFL 2012 Draft the Detroit Lions... trade their pick to San Francisco for pick #125 (moving down 8 spots in round 4) and acquiring pick #196 (a 6th rounder). With pick number 125 the Detroit Lions select OLB/DE Ronnell Lewis from Oklahoma.

At 6'1.6" tall and weighing in at 253 pounds Ronnell has some work ahead of him. However, with a 4.65 40 time and a great motor he has the tools to become a good NFL DE in the wide 9 defense. Had he excelled at school and applied himself to developing his talents a little more he may have been drafted in round 2. With good coaching and a good locker room he should blossom mentally and physically in a couple of years... which is about how long it takes a DE to learn the NFL position and start to excel at it.


#10 on the list here:

You're going to like this one on "the Hammer"

I should note here that I had Ronnell Lewis ranked 61 on my top 100 board, higher then their 2nd or their 3rd round picks.

The Detroit Lions trade their 2013 4th round pick and their 2012 pick #219 in the 7th round to the Minnesota Vikings and acquire pick #138 in round 5 and pick #223 in the 7th round (moving down 4 spots in round 7). With the 138th pick the Lions select OLB Tahir Whitehead from Temple.


#19 on the list here:

The Detroit Lions trade up to pick #148 in round 5, giving the Oakland Raiders pick #158 (moving up 10 spots) and giving away pick #230 in round 7. With the 148th pick the Lions select CB Chris Greenwood from Albion


The Detroit Lions use their 196th pick in round 6 (acquired from San Francisco) on DB Jonte Green of New Mexico State University.

Links: Okay, so, I'm not finding much on Jonte. Not sure if this was a flyer or a good investment of a draft pick. For whatever reason the Lions had him ranked and didn't want to risk losing him in the 7th round, so we'll have to go with that for now.

The Detroit Lions use their 223rd pick acquired from the Minnesota Vikings to select LB Travis Lewis from Oklahoma (this is the 3rd player from Oklahoma drafted by the Lions this year).

Travis was expected to be drafted as high as the 4th round. He's just over 6'1" tall, weights in at 246 pounds and projects to be a weakside or middle linebacker in the 4-3 defense. He played his entire senior year with a broken toe wearing a special shoe to be able to do it. Holds the tackling record at Oklahoma.


I should note here that I had Travis Lewis ranked 96 on my top 100 board, higher then the Lions 5th and 6th round picks and higher then their 2nd round pick.

The Lions took players from small schools and some others with questionable off field personalities on day 3, all in an effort to find a diamond or two, or so it would appear to me. Based on how teams, and I mean all of them not just the Lions, reached for players throughout the draft it would seem that many front offices weren't entirely impressed with their options this year. Gunny is going to have his work cut for him but if half or more of the defensive draft picks turn out this could end up being one of the best drafts the Lions have had in years if not decades. However, if most or if all of these players selected to play defense fail to make the grade, this could easily end up as one of the worst. The talent is there... now it's up to the players and the coaches to form the clay into NFL football players.

Lions 2012 Draft, Day 2, Rounds 2 and 3

With the 54th pick of the 2012 NFL Draft the Lions select Oklahoma Wide Receiver Ryan Broyles.

And the crowd goes wild. Not because everyone wanted Ryan Broyles. Not because everyone wanted a wide receiver. But because everyone expected something else, anything else or should I say, anyone else... no, that's not it, any defensive position. Some were bracing themselves just in case the Lions went running back, or better yet, guard or center but most expected some kind of defensive help. Instead the Lions stayed true to their board and drafted the injured Oklahoma wide receiver.

I had him ranked 107th. Probable 4th rounder. But, truth to tell, almost all the teams drafted waaayyyyy outside the rankings this year. At one point early in the 3rd round I watched as 5 guys, in a row, were drafted, that I had ranked as undrafted free agents or at most, 7th rounders (none of those 5 were to the Lions). One scout had Broyles ranked at 48, that was the highest I saw him ranked. The Lions had him ranked as the best player at that point in the draft. Probably due to his versatility (wideout and returner). One profile compares him to Wes Welker in as far as the type of player he is. If you think of him as just the 4th Wide Receiver on the team replacing Rashied Davis then he's not exactly worthy of a 2nd round pick. If you think of him as the eventual replacement for Burleson (in a few years) he still wouldn't be worthy of a 2nd round pick this year. If you think of him as a punt returner and possibly replacing Logan this year or next, he still isn't worthy of a 2nd round pick. If you think of him as all of these added together, he just might be worthy of a 2nd round pick. Throw in just one injury to any of the other wide receivers and he becomes very critical for 2012 (and for those who believe in the Madden curse, this year depth is going to be needed big time!).

Ryan Broyles is one of the top collegiate receivers of all time production-wise. He did for Oklahoma what Calvin Johnson did for the Lions last year, holding the record for catches, yards and touchdowns. He's apparently a very good route runner and good at YACs (Yards after the catch). Not afraid to and pretty efficient at playing slot. Tore his left ACL November 11, 2011 and is just now starting to get back into practicing. NFL conditioning and rehab will probably bring him back the rest of the way before camp starts. Had he not injured his ACL his draft stock would've been upper 2nd round easily. So, in one reality, he was not a reach, he was not a bad choice, he just wasn't the expected choice... especially considering who was still on the board (other people's boards, not the Lions board) at that point in time. Many of those supposedly better players went in round 3 not 2 and some still aren't drafted as I type this.

So, some links:

#12 WR:

6th best WR here:

Confession time. I didn't see this pick coming. Wasn't happy at the time of the pick either. But, like most of the Lions player moves, it's growing on me. I think I would've still drafted Vinny Curry but they didn't ask me so we'll see how this works out.

With the 85th pick of the 2012 NFL Draft the Lions select Louisiana-Lafayette Cornerback Dwight (Bill) Bentley.

Immediately after this selection I was thinking I had never heard of this guy. Who is Dwight Bentley? Part of that was that he goes by the name of Bill... Bill Bentley. Part of it was I wasn't paying attention to my board because once again I was expecting a different pick by the Lions. I had 3 cornerbacks on my board that were on the list of Lions contacts and I was expecting one of those to be picked. One was ranked 51, one was at 70, and the other was at 99. I never noticed the guy sitting at 93... one Dwight aka Bill Bentley.

The Huddle Report had him at 67, Sideline Scouting at 78 and NFP at 117 just to name a few. I have no doubt he was also the top dude on the Lions draft board at this point in the draft, though I'm not sure why he was ahead of players such as RB Jamal Miller and the like, but all the other teams are passing on these guys too, so there must be a valid reason even if I'm unaware of what that reason is.

Dwight's contact with the team was pretty much his Senior Bowl film. He showed skills that were mostly never used in college and impressed the Lions greatly. His 4.43 speed is impressive. His ballhawking skills are fairly well developed though he does need to control his angle of attack a bit better. He needs coaching but the potential and the speed is there. This is probably a better pick then it seemed at first... no, I'm quite sure this is a better pick then it seemed... now it's up to Gunther and company to get him NFL ready... the guy has a very high ceiling.

Now for some links:

11th CB:

One more confession. Wasn't expecting this pick but not upset with it either, especially after reading the above links (plus others I can not post a link to). Since I have enough players on my board remaining to fill the entire 4th round with picks without taking a player ranked 4th round (in other words, I have almost 32 second and third rounders on my board left to be drafted) this draft is turning out to be one of the most confusing ones ever. Lions still need or might end up with a defensive end, running back, clipboard holder (ie: 3rd QB), and maybe a linebacker... along with some more OLine help. Look for guys who are versatile, can play special teams or multiple positions, because so far, ALL the Lions picks are one or the other!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lions 2012 Draft, Round 1

With the 23rd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft the Detroit Lions select Iowa Offensive Tackle Riley Reiff.

I'd have to really dig, but I think most pundits have been assuming the Lions would take a left tackle in the draft in the first round for almost a decade, most definitely for the past few years, and the Lions never did. When the Lions re-signed Jeff Backus this year to a 2 year contract many thought they might go in a different direction this year... so surprise! They take who they say they had ranked as the 2nd best tackle in the draft (and I believe them). Neither the Lions nor I expected Reiff to be there at 23 and drafting an offensive tackle isn't the sexy pick that a cornerback, defensive end, or even a running back would've been... but adding talent is what the draft is all about and the Lions now have added talent to the offensive line corp.

But what kind of talent is he? Unless you watched Iowa play for the past few years or live in South Dakota and visited him at his farm you probably don't know any more then I did and thus you get your information from the internet and television. As I have found out, that's all well and good, but the various sources aren't exactly saying the same things. Heck, one source posted the measurables from his pro day and the combine and the measurements of the dudes hands and arms, height and weight are all different. Now I can understand a persons weight changing over a couple of weeks time, but I thought only OJ Simpson could change his hand size at will (sorry, had to throw that in there for some reason). If the measurables aren't even the same what do you suppose the rest of the immeasurables are like? Yeah, that's about it too... way different depending on who you read or listen to. One site will say he has long arms, the next will say short arms, in reality... they are at or just slightly below average (say within 3/4"). One site says he's been well coached, another says he may not take to coaching very well. Some sites were obvious that they maybe watched one or two games and wrote a player profile, while others watched multiple games and were a bit more thorough. Near as I can tell from the mess I went through, Riley Reiff is a tenacious, hard working, versatile offensive lineman who could use some NFL coaching but is also ready to start if need be. He is no stranger to the film room. He is no stranger to the weight room. He's also not afraid to play any position on the line if he's asked to. He also apparently doesn't like to be beat on a play, not at all. In other words, he is very talented if a bit raw and has an attitude to match.

When you think about it, what more could an offensive line coach ask for? Here is some highlights of his play:

And now, some links to some of the non-pay profiles I've read. This isn't all by any means, but I can't post the pdf's I've paid for or the material on the pay sites I subscribe to, perhaps you have others you have found. I wouldn't take any as gospel though, read them all and try to formulate your own thoughts from it... I think you'll find that the Lions have some quality material to work with.

Josh Norris scouting report can be read here (2nd best OT):

Now this one, which is the complete opposite of most regarding arm length and strength and such... no two sites are describing him the same... and after I read it I noticed the date posted, prior to combine by a lot:

Then there's PFW's which may be a little more accurate:

Another scouting report:


Other aspects of the pick which isn't helping fans get enthusiastic for the Lions choice is; where will he play? How does it help the team? Where is the upgrade or who is he replacing?

The answer is... they don't know yet. Oh, I'm sure they have an idea, and if it works out that way great, but until the OTA's and camps are over, they can't possibly know for sure if he'll be doing plan A, or plan B, or plan C, etc.

Riley Reiff will be tried out at both tackle positions, both guard positions, maybe even center... but I'm pretty sure the plan is to play him at tackle if he's able to handle the duties. Now, will he be pushing (or replacing) Gosder Cherilus at right tackle or just learning the left tackle position to be Jeff Backus' eventual replacement is uncertain. I assume, if he's talented enough, he could supplant Goz at RT either permanently or temporarily until Backus retires. Being that Reiff is versatile and willing to play any position he has a lot to learn, then it will be up to him to earn his roster spot. Right or Left, Tackle or Guard, Now or "Down the Road".

He has a ton of drive... sitting on the bench isn't going to be his idea of fun... so the current starters best go all out as Reiff is going to be in their rear view mirror and he'll definitely be closer then he appears.

We fans also get to do something we're not comfortable with... watching our team develop an offensive lineman. It's not sexy, it's not thrilling, but it's a very necessary evil.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lions Draft Board

The Pro days are over, player visits are done, teams are now preparing in house for the draft which is less then a week away. The Lions are compiling their notes and preparing to mock draft scenarios out to determine a game plan that will probably be thrown out within an hour after the Draft starts.

No one knows who the Lions will draft or who will be available when they pick. Will they target a player and trade up or will they trade down... the sheer range of options is, well, intriguing (not quite overwhelming, ha!).

Too bad there isn't a way to trim the list of options down a bit. Well, it just so happens there might be a way to do that.

For the past couple of years I've been working out various methods to rank players just to see if I can get closer to possibly how the Lions rank their players. At the same time, someone from my forum named LionHawk has been creating a contact list each year. Last year, every single player drafted by the Lions was on that contact list. He can explain how he comes up with the contact list better then I, but it accounts for pro-days, Combine, Allen Park visits, and Senior bowl. It is roughly 100 names long.

Sometimes a contact is made to verify health issues. Sometimes to ask about another player. Sometimes the team sends a DB coach to actually watch WRs. There is almost a science to it, determining who is a potential Lions draft pick and who is not. Plus, you never can tell if you have all the information or not. But since that's all I have to work with, and since it was 100% accurate for the 2011 draft, I'm ready to go with it.

What can this contact list tell us this year? A lot of things really. In no particular order we got...

The only Long Snapper (1) and Tight End (1) on the list are expected to be UDFAs.

Just about every Running Back expected to be drafted in the top 3 rounds are on the list (only exception appears to be Bernard Pierce from Temple, if he's considered a 3rd rounder).

Just 2 Safeties that will get drafted are on the list, with 4 more UDFAs.

All 7 of the LBs on the list are expected to be drafted.

There are as many DEs on the list as CBs, WRs, OTs, and RBs. Many of each position in the first 3 rounds. However, while DEs, CBs, OTs and RBs have 7 each in the top 100 only 3 WRs made the list leaving 11 WRs for rounds 4 through Undrafted.

QB does not appear on the list, however, I suspect they may have done that on purpose so no team will know who their hopeful project QB is... but that's just my guess.

There are 16 on the list who could go in round 1, 13 from round 2 and 13 from round 3. That's only 8 shy of half the entire list. 30 are not expected to get drafted and will become UDFAs (undrafted free agents). That leaves less then 30 names on the list for rounds 4 through 7.

6 of the possible 16 first rounders on the list are in my top 15 and thus shouldn't be there when the Lions pick at 23... if the Lions stay put at pick 23.

Of the 10 first rounders not in the top 15 you have (1) Safety, (2) Cornerbacks, (1) Defensive End, (1) Center, (1) Guard (1) Guard/Tackle, (1) Tackle, and (2) Running Backs. Or if you prefer; (3) DBs, (1) DE, (4) OLine, and (2) RBs. Most say the (2) RBs will fall into round 2 or at least the very bottom of round 1 (trade down?).

That's enough of my interpretation of Lionshawk's list, you can visit the forum to discuss it further if you wish. However, that's not going to stop me from using it and my top 100 ranking to give up 5 names in each of the first 3 rounds that I envision the Lions drafting if they are still there (and don't trade out of their spots).

1st Round
Mark Barron SS Alabama
Stephon Gilmore CB South Carolina
Janoris Jenkins CB North Alabama
Riley Reiff OT Iowa
Nick Perry DE USC

2nd Round
Amini Silatolu OG Midwestern State (Texas)
Vinny Curry DE Marshall
Zach Brown OLB North Carolina
Brandon Boykin CB-KR Georgia
Kelechi Osemele OT-OG Iowa State

3rd Round
Isaiah Pead RB Cincinnati
Marvin Jones WR California
Zebrie Sanders OT Florida State
A.J. Jenkins WR Illinois
Ben Jones C Georgia

As an FYI, I'm all for any of these players being drafted, plus some names not listed here... but I got to say, a draft of...

Janoris Jenkins CB North Alabama
Vinny Curry DE Marshall
Isaiah Pead RB Cincinnati
Devon Wylie WR Fresno State (round 4)

...would pretty much make my day.