Friday, March 21, 2008

Building via Draft Part 2

Before you read this, read "Building Through the Draft?" and all of the great comments.

Part Two: Building Through the Draft? Evaluating 2006 and 2007 and their impact on the current and future success of the Lions.

From our first installment, there were many good points made. First of all, while I agree there were many factors working against the scouting department (as have been pointed out) - I am of the mind they still did a pretty piss-poor job of finding talent at any level. The first round busts, I wouldn't place on just the scouting department. The Coaches/GM's get very involved in evaluating the possible picks for the first two rounds - Especially the first. So I place busts like Joey, C Rog, BMW, et al square on the GM/Coach. Don't tell me the scouting dept didn't inform Millen of C Rog's failed drug test...or point out that Joey had a less than stellar accuracy rating in college, and the last 2 guys from his system/mentor failed in the pros... The GM took that info and made a decision (as they must) and they were bad.

Where the scouting department really comes in is the later rounds - 3-7. Your 6th and 7th round picks rarely contribute their first year, and are not much better off in camp than UDFA's. People will point to examples like Brady, but if you look at 6-7th rounders, most are OOF (Out Of Football) or, if lucky, hanging onto a practice squad somewhere, within 2 years. All 7 rounds of the draft add roughly (with compensatory picks) 240 new players. Add in the 20 or so UDFA for each team, and remember only about 1900 players end up under contract in the NFL, and guys who didn't stick from the prior year looking for a shot...and you know that a high percentage -- especially from the lower rounds who were a low investment -- are not going to make it. But, the 3rd - 5th round is where the solid middle of most teams comes from. You try to add play makers round 1, hopefully starters within a year round 2, and depth for your team with the occasional breakout gem in rounds 3,4,5. It is in those rounds that the Scouts have the biggest impact, and in those rounds that Detroit has done historically awful as well.

In evaluating the first two Marinelli drafts, lets first look at who they took where:

2006
Rd Sel # Player Position
1 9 Ernie Sims OLB
2 40 Daniel Bullocks SS
3 74 Brian Calhoun RB
5 141 Jonathan Scott T
6 179 Dee McCann CB
7 217 Fred Matua G
7 247 Anthony Cannon LB

2007
Rd Sel # Player Position
1 2 Calvin Johnson WR
2 43 Drew Stanton QB
2 58 Ikaika Alama-Francis DE
2 61 Gerald Alexander FS
4 105 A.J. Davis CB
4 117 Manny Ramirez G
5 158 Johnny Baldwin LB
7 255 Ramzee Robinson CB

Let me remind you this is all opinion, and since I am sure you may have different ones, I want you to voice them. That is what makes this stuff exciting!

2006 Detroit Lions Draft

Method 1: The "Ranked" method. Looking at this method, 2006 was a decent draft, but by no means spectacular. Ernie Simms was a "surprise" pick, and the pundits don't like being surprised. The ratings for him were in the lower half of the first, into the second depending on whether his size was an issue or not. Bullocks in round 2 was a solid pick at #40, but was still considered a bit of a reach. Calhoun was a flier in the 3rd -- he fell that far because teams were afraid he might have durability issues. (those of you clamoring for M.Hart, he has the same issues as Calhoun.). Millen took a flier that was viewed as a value pick at the time. [remember, this method is based on how players were ranked for the draft - before they played]. Of the remaining picks, Dee McCann was considered a steal with great upside and listed as the "hidden gem" of the draft.

Method 2: What did the GM do? In 2006, not a whole lot. No real trades of substance, other than not having a 4th rounder due to a stupid earlier trade for a FA (can't remember who off the top of my head.)

Method 3: Player Contribution [for both drafts, this is too early to judge real well, but I will look at what is there] In the first round, Ernie turned out to be a great choice, and it is funny how short memories are for those analysts who seem to remember praising the pick...hmm.... The jury is still out on Bullocks, but only because he was injured early in pre-season and placed on IR. Before that, he had a solid Rookie Campaign and word out of Allen Park was that he was starting and had made great strides when he got injured. The fortunate part about him being on IR is that he has had time to fully rehab the injury without pushing to get back, and re-injuring it. I'll still see him as a solid pick as this will be his 3rd pro year (2nd playing) and he should be starting -- which is what you want to see out of your typical second rounder. Making an impact on the rotation in year one, starting at least half of year 2 and full time starter by three. [when they draft your replacement to repeat the process...]

In the third Calhoun is unknown, but may have run out of chances. He's been injured every year, and this off season is likely his last shot to earn a spot on the the team. So far, it was a risk that didn't pay off. I like Calhoun and hope this is his year...but I doubt it. Jon Scott in the 5th has been a pleasant surprise for the Lions -- playing his way to the starting RT spot midway into his second year before getting injured - again. He needs to prove he can stay healthy so they can feel comfortable with him at the RT, but for a 5th round pick, he is at worst a very dependable backup. That is a successful 5th rounder -- guys who fill out your team, and can step up when needed. McCann and Matua in the 6 & 7 -- The dreaded "P" word again. Never showed up and that "hidden gem" McCann was apparently too well hidden. However, the Lions did pick up a solid special teams player, and good backup for Ernie Simms in Anthony Cannon in the 7th.

Final Analysis: GM didn't do any real maneuvering other than to lose a pick, and it was rated mediocre by the pundits. However, the Lions garnered 1 great starter (Simms), 1 solid starter (Bullocks), 1 adequate starter (Scott) [could be upgraded] and a quality back-up/ST guy late (Cannon). 4 out of 7 staying on, with 3 of 7 picks in the round 6-7 "cast off" range, that qualifies as a successful draft heading into year 3.

2007 Draft

Method 1: Mixed results. Draft guru's had a hard time grading a draft that included 3 picks in the 2nd round...when they all had prepared for the bevy of guys they expected Millen to take in the 5th round ( 4 or 5 picks to start) I think this bitterness led draft pundits to give the Lions an above average grade. CJ was rated as the best talent in the draft. He fell to the Lions at #2 (if that can be called falling) so they took him. The rest of their draft hasn't been evaluated as much about who they took as who they didn't. Seeming to ignore current needs (which they did, much to my and many others' chagrin) the pattern of who they took was hard to figure out. Setting that aside, though, they got good value on most of their picks. Stanton was the #3 QB on most boards (outside of Buffalo, apparently) and they got him with pick #43 overall. While some will call this a reach, #3 QB taken halfway through round 2 when they are all considered very close in overall talent level... I just can't bring myself to call that a reach. Based on his ratings, it was a good place to pick him. (As I said, we're evaluating how the players were ranked and value/reach, not necessarily if they filled what we perceive as need. That is method 3.) As for the other two 2nd rounders, they had quietly moved up draft boards, and teams were targeting them both at the beginning of round 3. Alexander's strength was his almost CB worthy cover skills combined with a hard hitting safety. Perfect for the T2, and one of the top 10 S in the draft. IAF was/is considered raw, but again top of round 3 talent. Now, while both were chosen in the second -- they were picks 58 and 61 -- which is still a slight reach, but not by more than 4 or 5 spots. The rest -- Davis was considered a 4th rounder, so right on by Ramierez was projected at the end of the 3rd, so was a value at the end of the 4th. Baldwin was projected to be gone by the 4th, so getting him in the 5th was also a value proposition. Ramzee Robinson was the last pick of the draft. How do you put value on that?? I say NA. On the whole, a handful of reaches early, but some value picks in the 3-5 rounds got them an above average grade.

Method 2: Saying anything short of spectacular would be lying. I've talked about this before, but Millen's moves in the 2007 draft were a thing of beauty. He has a knack for trading around the board at value. He managed to garner 3 2nd rounders -- 2 of them targeted to players the Lions wanted, and were aimed about 4-5 picks at the most ahead of where they would definitely be off the board. All that while retaining 2 4ths, a 5th and a 7th. A+ for GM influence on where they picked in this one.

Method 3: This is really tough, because these players have only had their Rookie year, and that makes it tough. But I'll give it a good go, and you can rip me a new one when I'm done. Round 1: CJ was hurt, and underutilized. I'm worried the "hurt" will become a habit like KJ, but for some reason, I'm not getting that vibe. Just a hunch, but I'm thinking Roy and CJ both have monster a monster 2008. CJ is still a starter, and an upgrade over Furrey who is a great #3 and slot receiver. So that pick has to be termed a success.

[At this point a quick aside -- I would have liked to see Joe Thomas. And I'm also sure there are more than a few teams who wished they had picked Barry Sanders, or Jerry Rice, or Tom Brady...the list goes on. Looking in hindsight at guys who turned out better than expected, for another team, is impossible to include in looking at your subject team. Would that player have developed the same? Been trained the same? Utilized the same? Etc. Cannot all be realistically looked at. Plus it just gives me a headache, and isn't this analysis long enough as it is? So please -- no coulda shoulda's -- I'm looking at how the players the DID pick turned out for them, not the players they didn't. When it comes to analysis, I prefer to look at the reality of the "now" instead of some dream scenario that didn't happen. I probably didn't say that too well, but I hope you understand what I'm saying. Maybe another time, but not in this analysis]

Round two had an unbelievable 3 picks. Remember, my second round criteria is at least in rotation (if applicable) rookie year, seeing time by mid 2nd year, and better be starting by year 3. Stanton is an unknown. There is an established starter and we will get a view fo how developing under a savvy veteran leader can help when we see how Aaron Rodgers does this year after a few seasons on the bench. No doubt they took Stanton to develop, learn under, and eventually replace Kitna. Kitna is a serviceable starter in the interim, and only has one or two at the most seasons left before he will not be able to handle starting. Most likely, one. He will make a good backup for a couple years after that, if he stays -- which seems likely right now. However, right now I have to place Stanton in the negative column as he was on IR and saw no time in his rookie year -- not what you want for a 2nd rounder. If he sees time this year, that will start to tip toward the positive. Alexander is easy. A+ -- well above average starter his rookie year, and will continue to get better as he learns to maneuver within the system, and with the veteran guidance of Smith. IAF - right now, based on the Det Lions official assessment - I am neutral. Even playing injured, I saw great flashes when he did play his rookie year. But he will need to either earn a starting spot, or a spot in the starting rotation to keep from slipping into the negative category. The Lions have too many holes to focus on DE, and he really needs to step up this season. The pick made sense as Marinelli was intent on giving Kalimba one last shot, so a DE that needs some development makes sense. Class is over now, and he needs to show up big time, or the Lions D will suffer greatly.

In the 3-4 range, the Lions had 2 4ths and a 5th. I really truly believe that the Scouting department, and the coaches, screwed up these 3 picks. Ramierez is the sole bright spot, and only pick still on the team. He served as a backup to Mulitalo last season, and if he wins that job again, and develops into a starter by year 3 or 4, he will be a success. Davis in the 4th was just awful scouting. He didn't fit a T2 corner profile, was not known as a return specialist, and was not even a mediocre ST player. He had speed of feet but not of mind and that is about it. Bad Bad pick. Baldwin was a good pick, screwed up by a rookie HC mistake. He was a solid pick, great ST player, showed he could push for playing time as SLB and then...they cut him in a routine move to put him on the practice squad, and the risk backfired as KC signed him off waivers. Rod and Joe learned the hard way that sometimes you need to take up a roster spot for someone who is being developed, or you will lose the chance to develop them. I will say that Baldwin looked pretty good, but got injured just a few games into the season and went on IR. I think if he gets cut loose, the Lions would be wise to look at picking him back up. Ramzee Robinson didn't show anything special, but he did seem to be learning well -- he is on the roster for now, though I seem him back on the practice squad this season with one more shot to stay on with the Lions. So far, just one season in we have: 2 above average starters (Alexander, CJ- 3 if IAF starts), 2 backups (Stanton, Ramierez) and that's really it. So 5/8 picks at best were solid after just one season -- and it could go as high as 6/8 or as low as 3/8 depending on how players continue to develop.

Final Analysis: Early indications are good, but still too close to call. I am still at the too much "P" hanging out there stage to tell. It ranks average player rank wise, and while the GM moves around the board were great, what they garnered is thus far average as well. In other words, it could still go either way folks, and this season will determine a lot of that.

Sum Total: Taking into consideration the lack of draftees remaining from the drafts prior to Marinelli, I am actually quite excited about Rod's progress in building through the draft. Instead of having a "core" of players with potential, he has already in 2 drafts built a "core" of players who are showing they will make a solid foundation.

* Bullocks and Alexander combine to form a young, positive base at safety that has moved that position to a place of strength from one of total weakness.
* CJ is a great starter opposite Roy, and they will stretch defenses for whoever they actually get to pound the darn rock.
* Scott has helped stregthen the Line
* I think IAF will step up this year, and prove to be good enough to play opposite Dwayne White (with IAF on the right, moving White to his natural position on the left...or the other way around, but you know what I mean...)
* Ernie Simms is a LB to build around (say by adding a nasty MLB in the 1st or 2nd this year)

Add in the backups/contributors, and this is just two drafts in...and already, I can see the impact. I can see a team, 5 -10 years down the road filled with talented, motivated players (like those listed above)...and the Lions as perennially playoff contenders. Pardon me, I think my coffee is done brewing.

I'll be gone for a lot of the Easter Weekend, especially, at Family Functions. I may or may not have a chance to write before Monday evening...but check back, as I can't wait to see your thoughts, and will hop in to respond if I can.

Happy Easter to All from DetFan1979 and the Pink Lions!

22 comments:

JJLions20 said...

DetFan1979,
There may be some other factors to consider when rating a draft, and in particular a Rod Marenelli Draft (especially this next one as I think it will look more like a Rod draft). First Rod doesn't really care about the first method. He is going to go away from the pundits opinion, and get the guy he wants. It very well could be a guy like Ernie Simms who the so called experts will call a reach at that point in the draft. But the fact of the matter is that Sims has produced better than any Lion’s pick in years. I also agree that most people would like to see your second rounder starting in year two, but some players are taken in the 2nd round knowing they will take a little time to develop. I think there are also other factors such as age, position, and injuries that need to be considered.

Rod has always said that DE is the most difficult position to learn to play in the NFL. I might buy it if he said it was one of the most difficult Defensive positions to learn to play. QB is know as a position that most teams would like to wait 2-3 years before throwing a QB in as a starter. The big dollars of a high first round pick dictates a coach playing a QB right away. So lets look at the 2007 Draft first with those qualifiers.

1. CJ - I'll agree a back injury is always serious, but given it was not structural, I'm not overly concerned. It is well known that WR is probably the 2nd most difficult to learn offensive position in the NFL. If you doubt it, look at Herman Moore's rookie season statistics. I still feel good about the CJ pick.

2A. Drew Stanton. Yes the injury was an unfortunate, but it had nothing to do with this being a good pick or bad pick. The Lions did not Draft Stanton to be a starter in 2007, and probably not for 2008. But I'm sure Rod would like to be getting this guy ready for 2009. I still say this was a good pick, because otherwise next year we would be saying we have to draft a QB. You need to draft the QB, before you actually “need” the QB.

2b. Alma-Francis. Yes I would have like to see something from this kid through the 2nd half of the season, so that is concerning. But a hamstring injury was an issue. Once again, because of the position (DE), the fact that he was very raw due to not play football until he got to college, that I think he is still on schedule. We do need to see him in the rotation and improving through 2008. By the way, I suspect this was a Rod pick. Somebody the pundits will say is a reach, but is somebody Rod saw at the hula bowl, and I suspect he personally interviewed this kid. It was also at a position critical to the Tampa-2 scheme.

2C Alexander. I might not give him as high of a grade as you did, because I didn't see him as a hard hitting safety. Maybe I saw some hesitation that won't be there in year-2, but I also wouldn't be surprised to see him moved to CB. But either way he has delivered in his rookie year, beyond expectation. But that was not because he won the job, but because he got the job due to injuries.

So I still see the top 4 picks as being good at this point, but we will know more by November 2008.

Then comes the 2nd day of the draft. Davis was obviously the big mistake. I for one don't even know why he didn't make it, but I don't think he even got a sniff from other teams. I have a hunch there were more issues then just talent and skills.

The key to this 2nd day of the draft looks to be Ramirez. If they get a solid back-up or more out of him, it makes the 2nd day successful. Johnny Baldwin was a good pick in round 5, but the Lions got burned trying to slide the guy through the final cuts and get him on the practice squad. Given they picked up Buster Davis the same way, it may have been an even swap. Time will tell. Given that the last player in the draft (Robinson) actually saw the field, says that that pick was not a waste. So the key to the 2nd day is can Ramirez can make up for the mistake of Davis, Your going to miss on some. If Davis is the only one, and you get anything out of the 6th or 7th round, then this will be a successful draft. But yes the Jury is still out on the 2007 draft.


2006 Draft.
1. Sims. This was a Rod pick al the way, so throw out method 1. It was at a position you expect for a player to contribute immediately, which Ernie has. Looking at the player drafted after Sims there are not many that have turned out better. In hind sight the only players in the 1st round that could argued ware a better pick would be Cutler, Marooney, or Addai. You can argue, but the fat is Sims was a very good pick.

2. Bullocks. I agree with your assessment. The Pundits agreed with the picks, and he played decently in his rookie season. He was also very impressive in the preseason. Bullocks showed the speed, ability, and recognition to help the CB's in coverage. I hope he still has his speed when he comes back this year. Good pick all around.

3. Calhoun. Some call this a bust. But I'm not so sure. This year will tell. There is no way a RB can come back that quickly from an ACL and be 100% physically and mentally. Even with the knee issue he showed a few flashes. Calhoun will be given plenty of opportunities in the preseason to prove if he should keep his job. By the way, I never heard a report that Calhoun re-injured his knee, it was just that after a few games into the season, and it was still less than a year from his surgery. The Lions knew he was not 100%, and would not be 100% for the rest of the season, so they put him on IR. So lets also remember that Kevin Jones' knee injury occurred in December. That's why they released him. He was not going to e a factor for 2008, his FA season.


So this first day of the 2006 draft is still a question mark because of injuries. We'll see soon.

As for the 2nd day of the 2006 Draft. Since Scott got playing time and actually started some games in his first two seasons, he would be considered a good 5th rounder. If Cannon makes the team again as a special teamer as a 7th round pick, then the second day would be considered a success, especially if Scott develops more this year and stays healthy.

This is why April - September will be real interesting evaluating the Lions drafting since Rod has arrived.

Anonymous said...

Personally think that after only 2 seasons its a tad premature to rate these drafts good or bad. Pertaining to these 2 drafts, perhaps a trend is beginning to be seen, perhaps this trend will continue, perhaps it will reverse itself, who knows? Perhaps incomplete would be the appropriate grade, at least right now?

It seems to me the issue on Ernie coming out of college was concussions - and whether or not a team would risk taking him as early as the Lions did. All that segways me into something draft pundits call "value," and whether or not pick x is a value picking at slot y? This valueing seems to be consistent among pundits regardless of the team doing the drafting. No team drafts position x at slot y -- regardless of how good that collegian seems to be. "Trade that pick, get more picks," if they deem the pick doesn't have appropriate value they all say.

Cards coach Wisenhut said regarding his 1st round draft choice in 2007 (don't remember the name, it was a lineman) that the draftee had that draft position value to the Cards even though the pundits valued that pick somewhat lower. I agree with coach Wisenhut's thinking.

In the instance of Joe Thomas, the pundits didn't think there was appropriate value taking him with the 2nd pick, we took the glitzy, can't miss CJ instead, and just today a writer at the Free Press alludes to how the Lions blew it with this pick. I don't agree with the Free Press writer simply because his analysis is after the fact and because after only their rookie seasons a judgment like that is more sensationalistic than realistic. We are what we are, we can't change the past, let's move forward positively.

What I'm getting at, noting that 10 of the 14 picks were defensive players, 70+%, is that the Lions must put their own value on draftees based on team needs rather than the consensus of draft pundits or any other so called expert. Have the cajones to draft Thomas with the 2nd pick based on realistic team needs instead of taking the consensus tres chic pick the pundits want us to take.

2006 the work began, it continued in 2007, but come season's end there was some unforeseen, deeper malcontention that was weeded out, and additional, after 2 years of evaluation, and now rated as deadwood pruned from the roster once coach had 32 live game data to review as opposed to after the game film.

So in 2008, coach Marinelli has a much clearer picture of team needs than in the past, some but not all "projects" have been discontinued. Hopefully the lockerroom doesn't yet have any more overt or covert "sleeper" malcontents, there won't be any contrarian philosophies among the coaching ranks, and I'm confident "upper management" will not get in the way of coach Marinelli running the draft warroom & draft according to realistically appraised team needs based on Lions' TEAM values today rather than consensus values of draft pundits, of which most of whom making these evaluations have never stepped one foot in the Lions lockerroom or evaluated the tape as coach Marinelli and his assistansts have in such detail.

A house divided can't possibly win and as long as Millen doesn't pull rank on coach on draft day, I feel reasonably assured that the Lions will have a draft that we will be proud of going forward.

Go Lions

5BakerStreet

Anonymous said...

What a positive outlook! I do think Rod M is building a solid team so far. I just hope he gets at least two more years after this one. What this team needs most is continuity at head coach. As Millen's mistakes and micro managing fade away, this team will get better.

If Rod has anything to do with it, I think we'll see a DT or DE in the first round with a MLB (Lofton) in the second.

Maybe a couple 3rd round linemen and RB in 4. I think this could be a very good draft that could come very close to completing the foundation of this team on both sides of the ball.

Anonymous said...

jjlions - You are wrong about Davis. He did get a sniff from other teams. He is on the practice squad for the Browns. (Otherwise known as "Lions South" if they sign Kalimba who was there for a tryout last week.)

Anonymous said...

This in real life would be to good to be true, the Lions are on the clock
go and vote!

http://sports.espn.go.com/chat/sportsnation/story?page=snmock08

-Lik

Anonymous said...

http://sports.espn.go.com/chat/sportsnation/story?page=snmock08

It cut some of the link off.

-Lik

Anonymous said...

That link is suppose to end this way, it keeps cutting it off, sorry.

-Lik

page=snmock08

Anonymous said...

I think you have to be careful with putting too much stock in method 2, how well the GM moves around the board. I'm not going to say that having three second round picks wasn't great. It was. But, I think that you need to make sure that the team isn't TOO focused on this. Because there are probably trade offs, aren't there? Just a few could be:

1. Panic decisions. During the draft your scouts and coaches are probably looking ahead to where they think the next pick and formulating who they might take. If this information keeps changing they might not be as prepared and make a panic pick.

2. Missing out on buzz. If Millen is spending all of his time on the phone trying to 'play the board', he's not able to keep his ear to the ground and listen to what is going on in the draft room. Even a couple little misses could spell a bad pick.

3. Not paying attention to other teams. Again, if they're distracted trying to move around the board, they might miss seeing what other teams are doing, what holes they are plugging and have left, and could make some bad choices as a result.

Let me put it this way. If we kept all of our picks and they were all 'solid picks' (along the lines of the Giants), that'd be more impressive than landing a bunch of extra picks and having half of them go to waste.

CHIEFGER139 said...

detfan1979
i appreciate your blog-and your description of the 2006 draft-where calhoun a 3rd rd rb that was actually rated higher earlier that they got thinking he was a value pick-then to find out he gets injured and truthfully was nothing that great to begin with-and scott a tackle we got in the 5th was a pleasant surprise who actually might start.
thats the chiefs point all along- a 3rd round running back isnt good enough for our team and if a 5th rd tackle can make it-by god a 3rd rounder should easily-its like everyones got there picks and needs mixed up-lets face it -woody our left over lineman got a long contract and a nice raise on another team-bell our best runningback was so bad he couldnt even get an interview-no one in the league even wants him as a backup-and he has no real personel problems either-theyre going on talent alone-no one thinks he has any-except some of you goofy bloogers who want to ignore our most dire need.sorry dont mean to insult
shouldnt that be simple logic that rb before tackle, before any position now except maybe linebacker
i rest my case

paul.abdenour said...

I love your spin, but no way can you tell me that these past two drafts were good by any measureable metrics... lets consider a very very basic point-

We never address a need and always complain about it- ie tackle (shoulda taken JT), MLB (shoulda clearly taken David Harris)

Anonymous said...

Chief, that thinking is completely inconsistent. You cant take what happened with Calhoun and apply it to every running back ever to be in the draft. Taking the same logic we see that Tom Brady was a 6th round draft pick at QB...therefore, it must follow that if you draft a 6th round QB he'll become a perennial all-pro and savior of the organization.

Similarly, just b/c you pick up a tackle in the 5th round doesn't mean all 5th round OT's are good...not to mention that the OT in question was injured all season which adds some questions in and of itself.

I definately agree that T. Bell isn't the answer, and I don't like him by any means. What I'd really like to see the Lions do is pick up a HB in the 3rd and then bring in a UDFA RB to camp and have him duke it out for a roster spot with Calhoun and Cason.

I can understand the reasoning behind getting a HB in the 1st round. I don't necessarily agree with it, but Millen could certainly do a lot worse. I'm only saying that there is absolutely no consistency with looking at Calhoun and saying that all RB's in the 3rd will be a bust. In fact, if you look at recent history (i.e: last season) you'd find that many late round RB's (even undrafted RB's) can be plugged in their first year and prosper. (they actually had a piece on this in SI a few months ago, I think it was either by Don Banks or Peter King)

It would be much easier to make a case for Mendenhall if the RB class wasnt so good this year, but considering the amount of holes we have on this squad it makes sense that you'd hold off on RB (when it's deep) until you fill positions that aren't so deep.

(similarly, if the draft was deep at OT or MLB, we could wait a while to fill either of those spots in)

Just to wrap things up, it's not about a "can't miss player" or any particular player being a stupid choice (because RB WOULD fill a legitimate need), I'm only saying that there are a lot of different needs that will be harder to fill late in the draft. Taking an economic evaluation of it, you've got supply and demand. We have a very legitimate and obvious demand at RB, HOWEVER, the supply is fairly plentiful (compared to usual). On the other hand, we have other concerns that are just as legitimate where the supply is much more shaky (the talent at tackle seems to drop off in particular after the first round). Not to mention that we just spent a 1st rounder on RB a few years ago, meanwhile, we haven't drafted an OT since Backus (even though he sucks, at least he's still with us).

OK, i could go on but I think I'm going to cut myself off here.

Anonymous said...

Chief, that thinking is completely inconsistent. You cant take what happened with Calhoun and apply it to every running back ever to be in the draft. Taking the same logic we see that Tom Brady was a 6th round draft pick at QB...therefore, it must follow that if you draft a 6th round QB he'll become a perennial all-pro and savior of the organization.

Similarly, just b/c you pick up a tackle in the 5th round doesn't mean all 5th round OT's are good...not to mention that the OT in question was injured all season which adds some questions in and of itself.

I definately agree that T. Bell isn't the answer, and I don't like him by any means. What I'd really like to see the Lions do is pick up a HB in the 3rd and then bring in a UDFA RB to camp and have him duke it out for a roster spot with Calhoun and Cason.

I can understand the reasoning behind getting a HB in the 1st round. I don't necessarily agree with it, but Millen could certainly do a lot worse. I'm only saying that there is absolutely no consistency with looking at Calhoun and saying that all RB's in the 3rd will be a bust. In fact, if you look at recent history (i.e: last season) you'd find that many late round RB's (even undrafted RB's) can be plugged in their first year and prosper. (they actually had a piece on this in SI a few months ago, I think it was either by Don Banks or Peter King)

It would be much easier to make a case for Mendenhall if the RB class wasnt so good this year, but considering the amount of holes we have on this squad it makes sense that you'd hold off on RB (when it's deep) until you fill positions that aren't so deep.

(similarly, if the draft was deep at OT or MLB, we could wait a while to fill either of those spots in)

Just to wrap things up, it's not about a "can't miss player" or any particular player being a stupid choice (because RB WOULD fill a legitimate need), I'm only saying that there are a lot of different needs that will be harder to fill late in the draft. Taking an economic evaluation of it, you've got supply and demand. We have a very legitimate and obvious demand at RB, HOWEVER, the supply is fairly plentiful (compared to usual). On the other hand, we have other concerns that are just as legitimate where the supply is much more shaky (the talent at tackle seems to drop off in particular after the first round). Not to mention that we just spent a 1st rounder on RB a few years ago, meanwhile, we haven't drafted an OT since Backus (even though he sucks, at least he's still with us).

OK, i could go on but I think I'm going to cut myself off here.

Streetworm

CHIEFGER139 said...

streetworm as i posted on mlive
In the words of Emmitt Smith, "The Lions has no running game." Seriously - Kevin Jones? T.J. Duckett? Tatum Bell? Excuse me while I go vomit into Lake Michigan. No wonder Mike Martz didn't want to run the ball - with those guys in the backfield, I'd call 400 consecutive pass plays as well, even if it meant my quarterback would rupture his lungs and kidneys in the process.
I already bought tickets and i dont want to see bell/cason/calhoun who are even worst then bell/jones/duckett by far-- running the ball-many say and colletto believes our offensive line isnt that bad-they got a bad rap from martz plays-the only way to find out is get a stud running back to go with them and then we will know how good or bad they are-truthfully foster is much better at tackle than bell is at running back-so this is the way they should go-if not then forget the linebacker and get forte in the 2nd after that forget it-the best we could do is another calhoun.

Anonymous said...

Gentlemen

With all due respect, it's hard to evaluate ANY part of the offense. 1. Kitna holds the ball too long. 2. He is forced to take 7 step drops and COULDN'T audible in Martz's system. 3. Incredible amount of pressure on OLINE. 4. Injured backs that didn't block well. 5. No consistent fullback (Bradley was a DT before the season started). 6. Your ONLY blocking tight end spent the year on I.R.

With the change in offensive scheme, many things will change. I truly believe (barring injury) you will see Jon Scott start and be backed up by Foster. You will see McHugh used as a FB more, and they will add a FB late in the draft.

DRAFT 2007 -

I was happy with the way the 49ers handled their draft and felt they should've been a draft day partner for the Lions. I wanted the Lions to trade down and snag Patrick Willis, then use the 2nd 1st round draft pick for a DE or OT. The 49ers took the 3rd tackle taken in the draft with their second #1 pick and grabbed Joe Staley. I would've been happy with that pick, even though he spent the season on I.R. last year. I thought Patrick Willis was going to be a terrific linebacker and was a need for the Lions last year. However, being that Atlanta didn't want to give Millen the farm, I am completely content with the C.J. pick at #2. He will develope and had a terrific year last year. (Compare him to other rookie wide receivers). He will only get better.

I am happy about the way Millen moves around. He moves around the draft board for PURPOSE. There was no panic on draft day, and he handled it very well. The Lions were HUGE on Stanton before the draft because of his attitude. There was a run on QB's and the Lions caught the wave before their guy was gone.

Same thing with 5-0 and Alexander. These are Marinelli guys that fit the scheme of what they are doing. That is why they were targeted, and they got them. It is an excellent job of scouting for TEAM needs instead of taking the best available CB or S or DE.

That is why the Lions will stay away from certain CB'S in the draft. Most of these guys are great young CB's, but they are SMALLISH and are COVER CORNERS. Aqib Talib, Reggie Smith, Mike Jenkins, DeJuan Tribble, Leodis McKelvin, Dom. Rodgers-Crom, Trae Wiliams, and the like.

IF the Lions snag another CB, it will be bigger framed guys who come up and stick. Antoine Cason, Tracy Porter, Terrell Thomas, Zack Bowman, or Jack Ikeguoma.

I really think 5-0 and Jon Scott are going to get a chance to start.

That means the Lions are going OLB or MLB or DT with their first round and second round picks. I don't care what Killer says, and he may be a puppet being used for a smoke screen right now.

I think the Lions will stay put or trade DOWN on draft day in #1.
Unless the BIG DE, or OT, or Darren McFadden fall in their lap, the Lions get a LB in the first; they will target Rivers.

If he is not there, Kentwan Balmer (DT) is the pick.

If they go LB, next pick is (DT) Sedrick Ellis or Dre Moore. Sedrick may not be there, and they would be very happy with Dre Moore. These are the guys who's EFFORT stands out. They are great teammates and "Marinelli guys". They love football and all work very hard in the weight room.

If they snagged Balmer, then the 2nd pick will be Lofton at LB.

3rd round will be RB and OT.
They will target a guy to play RT. This tackle will be smaller (300-315). The Lions are going to trap and pull a little more. We will see Dominic Raiola pulling quite a bit this year. They are going to run a cut and trap zone blocking scheme (think Redskins, Ravens, Denver Broncos type of run game.

This will also dictate who they draft as an RB.

EVERYONE available in the first three rounds (outside of Mendenhall and Stewart) are smaller than 215. That is why IF THOSE TWO BACKS ARE THERE, they will take them. The Lions will then take the smaller "change of pace back" in round three and let T. Bell be the cut runner.

You will see the Lions comb the crap out of the free agent market, and they will pray Duece McAllister gets cut in N.O. (or someone like him). Duece has injuries, but if Tatum can go six weeks while Duece heals, the Lions will try that rotation again this year.

Also, you may see Kevin Jones back at less money. Kevin Jones does NOT see his phone ringing from 20 teams. Once the initial meetings were set up, teams saw what the Lions saw on the X-rays. Unless a team wants to get a quality back for 2009, Kevin Jones won't get HUGE money. The Lions may take him back, but it will be less than $2 million a year if they do.

-nobsnubber

jreffy said...

Actually cheif, the better solution is to draft OL and take a "good line" (per Coletto) and make it a GREAT line. That way, it doesn't matter WHO we have running the ball, we'll at the very least have a running game, and good pass protection.

I strongly, strongly disagree with your thinking that Jones/Duckett was a terrible backfield. Unless, in your mind, anything that isn't the top 10 in the league is "terrible". Were they the best? No. Were they "good enough" most certainly.

jreffy said...

Oh, and as for Paul,

You can't grade a draft based on what position we picked vs. what position was needed (not to mention the position of "need" is always up for debate anyway). Sometimes there just isn't talent good enough to waste a top 10 pick on. I would rather use my top-10 pick to draft a top-10 player, than to reach, and grab a guy who would have been no more than a mid-late 1st rounder.

For example, there are no LB's worth a top 15 pick this year. So if the Raiders had LB as a "need" their draft would be a failure if they took McFadden instead? Rivers is the highest rated LB and most drafts don't have him going until 15 at the earliest.

It's just a silly way of grading a draft. Do teams need to address their needs through the draft? Most certainly, but do you call the draft a "failure" if it doesn't happen with the first pick? No.

paul.abdenour said...

Great teams address their needs in the draft. Awful teams, like we are and have been, are always picking in the top 10. Last year, it was clearer than ever that we needed an impact LB. Patrick Willis was an obvious pick. David Harris was another obvious pick. This is what I am talking about... We have had Orlovsky learing system after system.... if at worst, he can be a stop gap. We drafted Stanton (who I think can be good, for the record) when we needed to fill a glaring hole... doesnt make much sense.

jreffy said...

Great teams might address their needs in the draft, but sometimes when you're sitting at #2 overall, there is not a player worth taking at #2 to fill your need.

Had the Lions traded out of #2, I'm sure they would have been much much more likely to draft Willis. However, Willis was not worth taking at #2. Perhaps sitting in the middle of the draft, like the Lions are this year, drafting purely based on "need" is a much better approach, however, picking in the top 5/10, "need" simply is not the end-all, be-all rule.

To grade a draft based purely on need is ridiculous. So you would rather have the Lions pass up a future HoF player (not CJ specifically), to take someone they had a "need" for?

Great teams also draft great players, regardless of need. So based on your reasoning, you also think the Vikings made a terrible pick in Adrian Peterson last year?

paul.abdenour said...

Willis at #2 overall was no more of a reach than Gaines Adams would have been at #2 which was a realistic, viable option last year. Admit it, CJ was a luxery pick... The real pick that should have been was JT at #2 seeing that was and still is a glaring hole.

jreffy said...

I disagree that Willis at #2 was a bigger reach that Gaines at #2 (Gaines went #4, Willis #10). Your argument to take Thomas at #2 is a much better one than taking Willis. I that case, I would agree, Thomas would have been a solid #2 pick.

However, hindsight is also 20/20. As a fan, you evaluated that the Lions had a "glaring need" (as you like to repeatedly reference) at OT. Perhaps the front office didn't view OT as "glaring" a need as you did. Or, and more often is the case, they had already targeted a lower round pick who they thought they could develop into a major talent.

Look at this year. Many might argue that the Lions' biggest need is an MLB. But what if the Lions really like a guy (MLB) that will be there in the 2nd round? Do you draft your biggest need with your highest pick regardless? No.

You select players in the draft that will make your team better, AND fill some holes. If the Lions really like a guy at MLB and they think he'll be there at #47, should they just draft the highest rated MLB at #15 regardless? Or would you rather they draft a DT (not as big a need) at #15 and get the MLB they want at #47?

I'm not disagreeing that you need to fill holes in the draft, I'm just arguing that which player to select is often a lot more complex than simply "biggest need".

Anonymous said...

Jreffy,
Thank you for pointing out a common mistake of all fans, that is "over simplifying the draft process". example if Forte is a guy they like character-wise why draft mendenhall, it eliminates the need to pursue Forte in the later rounds.
Not to mention, with Coletto telling everyone in the world we're looking at RB and OT. We're likely hoping everyone tries to get in front of us for mendenhall and Williams, guys like rivers and Harvey could fall to us.
On a different note for DetFan 1979, how about the addition of Owen Schmidt FB,WVU who should be available in later rounds. He fills a need, and could definately be used for short yardage. I'd love to see the offense deliver some blows, thats the type of back KJ was(also why he's hobbling). Is this new system going to require a more traditional FB, I like Bradley but maybe he needs to be in the rotation back on the otherside of the ball.

Anonymous said...

Guys

Good discussion about the draft. The need vs. value thing can go on for years.

Patrick Willis was one of 3 Pro Bowl rookies this year. He anchors the 49er defense and may do so for 10 years. So you don' t take him at #2 because experts say you shouldn't take any linebacker (who's the best MLB in the draft) that high in the draft even though you need a linebacker AND know he won't be there in the next round. BULLSHIT. Take 'em. If he's your guy, and you need that guy. Take 'em. If he covers better or tackles better, or is better in the locker room. Take 'em. If you can't trade down, if he's your weight room warrior, you're fastest 40 guy, your best looking college whatever that looks the best in Under Armor, or whatever criteria you have. Take 'em. You get one chance every round (give or take). If you feel he's THE GUY. Pull the trigger. If he's your "fit"; pull the trigger.

Jreffy

Yeah! Owen Schmitt seems to be Cory (youknowwho) in the making. He has that special flare. There are a few FB's in this draft worth looking at, and I do believe the Lions will get a FB. The question will be when, and how much value are they going to place on getting one?

Peyton Hillis leads the field. He led the way for McFadden and Jones (and seemed to do a very fine job). Then Schmitt.

There are then a few "big" backs that weren't true fullbacks as they carried the ball in bunches like MSU's Caulcrick and Brandon McAnderson from Kansas.

Then you have three smaller guys that are more "H" backs (like how we use McHugh) with Adam Bellard (Navy) and Jerome Felton (Furman).

Jevorskie Lane (Tex a&M) falls in between all the cracks, and I haven't seen enough of him to know how he really fits. Hester from LSU is too slow to be a HB, and I don't know how he'll fit either.

Paul abdenour - you wrote that pitiful teams always draft in the top 10. That means we're headed in the right direction, baby.

-nobsnubber