Monday, May 4, 2015

2015 NFL Draft - the after math.

I have spent a considerable amount of time reviewing the draft overall, the players the Lions drafted, the undrafted players they signed or have at least invited to their rookie camp, and my own emotions which were run through the ringer throughout this draft... and have come to this conclusion... I'm still very happy and very upset with this draft. Those two things really don't work well together so apparently time and observation is the only way I can fix me.

As for the draft, the positives and negatives, I've pretty much said what I wanted to say but will recap and/or perhaps add to what I wrote before if there is a tidbit to add. First I've read a ton of "grades" on this draft and the Lions have scored anywhere from an A+ to a C- ... but it's 3 years too early to grade this draft for me to do that. Second, the Lions definitely ranked the players in this draft but then narrowed it down to a much much smaller list first by making it mandatory the player be an upright, intelligent, hard working young man then by producing an even smaller list of players for each position they wanted to fill. They had a plan. They implemented it and are quite happy with the results. The rest of us will agree with them only if it turns out they were correct more often then not with who they selected. It's hard for me to like the results because it seemed every pick had some kind of issue that bothered me.

For example; in round one they selected offensive guard Laken Tomlinson (Duke) with the 28th pick after trading down five spots. I love that they traded down. I love that they acquired Manny Ramirez plus the 2015 5th round pick and the 2016 fifth round pick, and I'm happy they filled the starting guard spot. I even like a lot of the things I've seen and read about Laken... and most of his negatives are things the coaching staff can work on to make him even better. I understand many had him ranked as the best pure guard in the draft. But I would never draft a guard in the first round. Probably not in the 2nd round either. But that's just me, well no, it's not, it's a lot of people, the majority in fact... still, they got more then just a guard, they got perhaps the best one, and two draft picks, and perhaps a starting center too. Call me torn.

In round 2 the Lions select another needed position, running back Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska) with the 54th pick. If you want to know what I like about him just read the positives at draftinsiders (it's free) and if you want to see why I don't like the pick read the negatives (hint: small hands). They didn't draft him because of need, it wasn't a reach, he was actually ranked at this spot or slightly above it... they had more then one RB on their RB card... this was the top one though, I'm sure of that. Some of the moves I've seen remind me of one Barry Sanders, not all of them, but some. Watch some video on him, especially in the open field and one-on-one. One other tidbit, Ameer got MVP of the Senior Bowl and one of his blockers in that game was Laken. Still, I never ever draft a player with hands smaller then 9.5" because they tend to fumble.

In round 3 the Lions select cornerback Alex Carter (Stanford) with the 80th pick. I like everything I read about Alex especially by NDT... most sites had Alex ranked higher then he was drafted at, meaning he was decent value here too. He will have a year or two (hopefully) to learn and slowly get more and more reps to eventually take over for Mathis when that time comes. So what's my problem here? The Lions were supposed to pick at 88 but felt the need to trade away their newly acquired high 5th round pick from Denver to move up 8 spots. They used two picks to get one player. That is another thing I would never do, ever. Got two picks, get two players, or more if you can move down and it makes sense to. I assume the Lions felt they couldn't afford to lose Alex to another team, and maybe they even felt someone was about to pull the trigger... or maybe they just got nervous, maybe he was the last CB on their CB card of desirable choices. Fairly sure it was one or the other, I haven't come up with a third reason to move up.

Round 4 starts and as most know the Lions traded a 3rd from 2016 to get the 4th round pick, they then selected DT Gabe Wright (Auburn) at 113. Many sites had Gabe ranked as a 3rd rounder already, and I'm sure the Lions felt there was no way he'd make it to the 5th round, plus they didn't have to use up additional picks to move up, and Gabe does appear to be a player who can help the defensive tackle rotation this and in future years... the only way this pick sucks is if he fails to be worth a 3rd round pick. Yes it sucks losing a 3rd round pick next year, but... but if Gabe is worth it then he is worth it. Some NFL diet and weight room work along with coaching and this could easily be a great player, but was it a great move? It is if he turns out... it's just that it's... risky.

Round 5 gets near the end to where the Lions are sitting and they select FB Michael Burton (Rutgers) at 168 overall. I knew the Lions were going to take a fullback and I knew it would be one who has the hands to catch passes... but this is the 5th round, not the 7th. Fullbacks don't hardly ever get a profile created for them by most sites because they end up undrafted or if a team wants to make sure they get their guy they take him in round 7. Typically. The Lions though pull the trigger in round 5. Yes, he'll likely be the starting fullback, but round 5?!?!? Ouch.

When the Lions selected Nickel CB Quandre Diggs (Texas) in round 6 with pick 200 I had not realized that current nickel CB Lawson has a dislocated foot that is not yet healed up and their other nickel CB Bentley went out last year with an ACL that takes time to heal, usually 10 months or so. Now that I do this pick makes more sense, they must of had a card with a number of nickel corners on it and picked the highest ranked one still available in this round. Oh, and his older brother (by 12 years) is one Quentin Jammer, the player the Lions passed up to draft Joey Harrington. The only issue I had with this pick and still do have is that he is barely 5' 9" tall... he's going to have to really be special to be able to do anything being that short in the NFL backfield.

Round 7 and the Lions finally draft the right tackle I thought they would take in round 1... no not the same guy but that position... anyway they took T Corey Robinson (South Carolina) who actually had a couple of 5th round grades, great value at this pick in my opinion. So what issue do I have with this pick? Nothing really, other then in round 7 that is when you draft your fullback, in round 5 that would work for a guard, round 1... the offensive tackle. Okay, so this way may also work out, there is nothing to say it won't, it's just a lot riskier this way.

The draft ends and the Lions start being connected with undrafted players, they are:
TE Casey Pierce (Kent State)
RB Zach Zenner (South Dakota State)
G Torrian Wilson (UCF)
QB Anthony Boone (Duke)
S Isaiah Johnson (Georgia Tech)
K Kyle Brindza (Notre Dame)
G Al Bond (Memphis)
WR Vernon Johnson (Texas A&M-Commerce)
LB Kevin Snyder (Rutgers)
DB Delonte Hollowell (Michigan)
RB Rasheed Williams (Alfred State)
S Brian Suite (Utah State)
S Nathan Lindsey (Fort Hays State)
WR Marcus Beaurem (Tiffin)

For once I have got no issues with Mayhew and the Lions. I like many of these prospects, even predicted that the Lions would sign the kicker Kyle Brindza before the draft started. Some other things of note... TE Casey Pierce had a solid 7th round grade who has great hands and blocking ability. If any of the 3 TEs the Lions plan to start get hurt this dude makes the roster (or so I predict today). RB Zach Zenner also had a very productive college career and most thought he'd be drafted but he wasn't, he'll push for a roster spot. G Torrian Wilson has a 6th/7th round grade and many are surprised he was not drafted, keep an eye on this guy. QB Anthony Boone also had a 6th/7th round grade but if the Lions treat him like the recent past 4th arms in camp he'll never play a down in preseason and will end up on the practice squad. S Isaiah Johnson just missed having a 7th round grade and could push for a roster spot. Kyle is the camp kicker this year while G Al Bond, WR Vernon Johnson, and LB Kevin Snyder will all likely end up on the practice squad this year and will get 2 years to break onto the final roster (this year and next). The other small school guys I have almost no info on, they weren't ranked at all by anyone so far that I've seen, but that doesn't mean they aren't talented just that they went to a small school so no one knows them and never wrote anything up on them.

The Lions filled all the holes on their roster or so it would seem, it is certainly one of the most talented rosters I've seen them field since 1991... which means this could be a very interesting season. Too early to go there yet though. A lot of risks were taken in this draft and it'll be a minor miracle if all of them pan out. Doesn't mean it won't, just that risk is a risk, and gamblers sometimes lose.

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