Here's hoping everyone had a wonderful Easter!
I guess I should go away to family functions and then start working 13 hour days more often - seems to be quite a positive, back and forth dialogue happens when I write a big long post and then shut my yapper.
As I read your comments (21! Apprecaite your readership, and being able to thoughtfully discuss the Lions) I had a few thoughts and tidbits I'd like to add and expand upon.
First off, I specifically stated that I don't think you can really judge a draft until after the third season at earliest -- which means I really don't think you can judge the impact of Rod's first draft (usually one of a coach's worst, by the way) as a HC until after the 2008 season.
I only use the first method as a way to look at the "talent" the Lions got versus where they were "ranked". These same rankers also thought Ryan Leaf was as good as Peyton Manning -- so always keep that huge grain of salt in mind when looking at method one. Also realize the Giants were graded a C+ last season immediately following the draft. Gives you something to think about.
I do think that the Lions, more now than ever, are relying more heavily upon their own draft board, and I think most NFL teams would tell you they could care less about Media rankings.
JJLions - I agree with your first comment that this season will be very telling as it will give us enough information to really begin to evaluate how the 2006 draft is faring. It is 5 seasons, in my mind, before a final evaluation can be made as to the impact, both Short term and lasting, a draft had on a particular team.
5BakerStreet - See above, but I agree it is still too close to the draft's Rod has had a hand in to call whether they were successful or not. What I was trying to do with this exercise was get an idea as to whether what the Lions did the last two years in the draft was consistent with the plan/philosophy that is becoming very clear this off season. I feel very good about the direction the Lions are taking after doing the analysis for that piece, and think that the early indications for the success of those first two drafts is quite good. As long as they keep filling different positions in this same way, we will see a solid Lions team filled with players in their prime that were drafted onto the team, and tweaked with FA additions here or there.
Also Bakerstreet (do you read Sherlock Holmes, by the way? I am currently about halfway through "The Complete Sherlock Holmes" volume 1, and it is quite interesting and entertaining. Good reading once you get into it.) I think that we must also keep in mind that it is very difficult to turn-over a roster in the salary cap era. Notice there are less than a dozen players left Marinelli inherited -- it takes a few seasons to clean out a team as screwed up as Detroit was, and it will take more now to keep building it. At least he took the time to evaluate who could possibly contribute, and gave them a chance. I also like that his attitude is not set in stone on any player. The biggest mistake franchises often make (Seattle and S. Alexander) is letting emotion lead them to paying/keeping a beloved veteran for too much/too long, and it kills them on the cap.
Anonymous on 3/24 at 9:57 talked about GM moves on draft day being panic moves. I agree that panic moves are bad for a franchise, and if I thought Millen's moves last season were such, I would not have given him such high marks. But as nobsnubber pointed out probably better than I will, they were focused moves to get targeted players just before other teams were set to take them. Millen has also shown a knack on draft day for taking advantage of the panic of other teams -- such as getting Cleveland to trade up one spot for Kellen Winslow in a panic, while taking Roy W. and then getting Jones in the first as well, while retaining his second round pick. While I do agree what you describe happens in many draft rooms, Millen seems to be the predator in that regard on draft day, not the prey.
I often see reference to "can't miss players" -- let me give you a hint. At least half of them "miss". See: Ryan Leaf, Robert Gallery, Ki Jana Carter, Tim Couch, et al. As a general rule, about half of the first round either busts or performs at about the same level as the second rounders.
Paul and jreffy -- nice dialogue going there. I can see both sides of the issue. As you'll note, I pointed out that I prefer method 3 -- which looks back at a draft 3 seasons later to see how the draft helped/hurt the team in both the short and long term. I feel that you can only grade a team based on who they picked, not who they didn't. I may disagree with their moves at the time (method 1 focuses on "need" and "ranking"), but you have to look at the whole picture.
It would be kind of like looking back on your marriage and judging it by who you didn't date instead of who you married. Same thing. "What If" dreams or projections are just that -- "What If?". What if I had dated that girl in high school that won the lottery...BUT - if I had, I wouldn't have my kids and being married/dating me would she still have won the lottery since her life, and mine, would be totally different? These types of questions are easy to use to either BASH or EXALT a decision because the alternative is entirely created fantasy that can be whatever the author desires -- postive or negative!
Just one example of how it will drive you mad: If they pick Posluszny (the reason he slid into the 2nd is fear he would be injury prone -- and he went on IR his rookie year...sounds like a normal Millen 2nd round pick to me) or Harris, then they don't get: Alexander, IAF, Stanton. That means they would have a greater need at DE, need a young starting Safety (and have been starting someone like Bashir last season), and would still need to be looking to get a young QB to develop, but have less time to do so because Kitna isn't getting any younger. So instead of just needing a MLB/DT/OT/RB in the first three rounds, they would be looking at needing DT/OT/RB/S/QB/DE in the first three rounds. (notice how I assumed they wouldn't be able to trade for any of those players in the new scenario, thus exalting the original decision. I could also have spun it the other way, as I am sure you can see.)
So while it may not have made sense at the time, in the view of the larger picture it becomes clearer. What the Lions didn't get is usually factored in without thinking what they would have needed to give up -- and thus the additional needs created. Also factor in that this year is VERY weak at safety -- with only one even borderline 1st round, and the rest third (although they will be chosen earlier as at least a half dozen teams NEED safety help. Very glad the Lions are all set there) -- and none of them are projected to be strong starters. This year, however, there should be either Lofton/Goff/Mayo availble in the second to fill the MLB position at least as well as Pos or Harris would have. (Harris is in a 3-4, in which the MLB has much different responsibilities than in the 4-3. That is why the Jets traded Vilma -- he was a 4-3 MLB, not a very good 3-4 MLB. Harris also looked good on a very bad Jets defense -- at least as bad as the Lions. )
So after 2 drafts (07 and 08) the Lions can have their MLB, DT or OT, S, QB, DE and still use their 2 3rds (or 2nd from trading up) on OT or DT (what they didn't get in rnd 1) and RB. So they can fill all of those holes with picks in the first 2-3 rounds, over two years, instead of filling 3 holes they manage to fill 5 or 6. This is why team building needs to be looked at in the long term.
That was just one example. If they would have picked either of those players, the whole rest of the draft would have changed -- and who knows who would have been available when??? Teams usually pick about 7 players in the draft each year. They pass on roughly 217 players plus compensatory picks, plus those who are UDFA. What-iffing can be useful sometimes, but when it comes to evaluating a drafting strategy for a HC and his team, it needs to be done over a period of time taking into account the end result, not the one little snapshot of a round.
I also noticed one comment indicating is Adrian Peterson a bad pick then? My answer based on ranking-need strategy of evaluation would be: YES! The Vikings running game worked about the same whether it was Taylor or Peterson running the ball. The knock on Peterson was injuries -- he already missed 4 games his first year, and parts of others. Their LINE, Hutchinson in particular, is why they run well. Notice what happened to Alexander and Seattle's run game when Hutchinson left? It hasn't been the same since. And in my opinion, the Vikings had much bigger needs. Think Brady Quinn would be an upgrade over Tarvaris Jackson? How would he do with Taylor running behind that line? See, even though I think it was a bad pick, they think it was a good one and only time will tell if picking Adrian Peterson helps the Vikings be playoff contenders or not. (notice how I used a mish-mash of two methods to BASH the Vikings picking Peterson; I could also have picked examples to show how it was the greatest pick since Barry Sanders for a team...what I'm trying to put forth is that all hypothetical scenarios - even mine - are just that -- hypothetical, and are tainted by the prejudices and predispositions of the author and the point they are trying to make.)
Anonymous : "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." March 25, 2008 3:15 PM
I haven't had time to look up anything on him yet, but I am all for a FB in the later rounds. Sledge was always one of my favorite Lions (still is) and I even have a signed Riddell Mini-Helmet of him on display in my office at work. Even my Chicago-Lovin boss can't find fault with that, which I why I am all for them finding another destroyer to lead crush would be tacklers into dust, destroying face-masks in the process.
I think Bradley did well when used in situations where it wasn't obvious the Lions were going to run up the middle behind the FB (Which wasn't often.) I remember one play where he made like he slipped a block on the LB who rushed past him into the hole and got picked up on a block by the RB (I think Cason) instead of a tackle for loss, while Kitna dropped a shot pass to Bradley over the left middle; Bradley ran through a few guys for a tough 3rd down because he was so freaking big they couldn't stop his momentum -- and he kept his feet quite well. While I want to see competition, and I think maybe they could use Bradley more at DT -- I think he does have the potential (that dreaded "P" word) to be a very serviceable FB - especially in protection schemes - for the Lions.
I saw the Lions news in brief today, but will look to that in a later post, along with my latest draft/FA musings.
Keep up the great rapport! Wonderfully well thought out and managing to be critical, supporting and positive. Go Lions! Go Lions Fans!