Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Comments Galore!

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!


Anonymous said...

Very much enjoy your comments. Detroits needs and the draft in any particular year do not seem to mesh with available quality talent. When they needed a QB, Harrington was there. When they needed an offensive linemen, Backus was the best, or Lehman at linebacker. Perhaps that may change with a new approuch to free agancy.
New idea as to why our talent does not fully develope. Two guys Millen hired when he became GM are the strength and conditioning coaches. What are your thoughts as far as maybe the Lions could upgrade here?

CHIEFGER139 said...

when you have the probowls mvp how can you not say ap wasnt a homerun for the vikes? it may be because the vikes have a good ol and he was a good fit there and with martz he would of been a bad fit-i agree with that but the guy was awsome-actually because they do have him i bet the vikes will now be picked by most to win the nfc north. i totally agree on your account of bashing the draft after its over and saying we missed this guy and that one-any one can critise after the fact and actually last years draft wasnt that bad or the year before-but hope they do draft more to need this year-dont want them to throw away this season as a rebuilding year-really think with a few key guys-rb being one of them-they can beat out the vikes and win the division this year-have hopes anyhow-besides i want to see someone better than bell and kitna in the backfield-tickets arent cheao we deserve at least that

jreffy said...

I was the one who brought up AP as a bad/good pick for the Vikings. If you approach a draft and say that the only good picks are picks that fill needs, then CJ and AP are going to be "bad" picks by that criteria. However, obviously AP turned out to be a great pick (so far) for the Vikes, despite their not having a "need" for an RB when he was chosen.

I was just using that to support my point about not reaching for guys beyond their "value". Now, I agree, it ends up Willis was a stud, and the Lions could have used him, HOWEVER, did you know he was going to be a Pro Bowler in his rookie year? Obviously, had the Lions known that, they might have taken Willis over Johnson.

Just remember, hindsight is 20/20. Unless it's 3 years after the draft like DF1979 says, you have to put yourself in the mindset that it's still pre-draft, and you only know as much as you did then.

Now, in regards to this draft. I'm getting more and more concerned that the Lions are going to be taking Mendenhall if he's there at 15. Personally, I don't think he'll get past Chicago (where I just happen to live), but if he does, I'm conflicted as to whether or not the Lions should draft him. As a player, he's my favorite back in the draft, even more than McFadden, there's just somethin I like about him. However, if a DT or OT drops, I want the Lions jumping on that like Shaun Rogers on a cheeseburger.

paul.abdenour said...

As a Chicagoan myself, I also see the hated Bears taking the best back in the draft, thus potentially saving Millen from himself.

Look at the leading rushers the past few years... how many were drafted outside of the first round... how about the first day? Like taking CJ last year, taking a RB in the first this year is a lurury pick. I dont care if McFadden falls to us, this team will never get to 10+ wins without devoting serious resources to higher percentage draft picks- OL and DL

CHIEFGER139 said...

after we get mendenhal in the 1st rd-our defense will hardly ever be out on the field-and the other team will be so far behind-they will have to pass the ball to catch up,so the linebackers will hardly be needed anymore-thats why they loaded up in the defensive backfield this year. rod said he had a plan-bet this is it.

Anonymous said...

Chief, i'm not saying the offense wouldn't be improved with Mendenhall. But people were saying the same thing last year, that with CJ it wouldnt matter how bad our defense was because our offense would be so dominant that it wouldn't matter.

I agree that with the improved blocking scheme the O-line will be improved, (and sacks will decline to some extent) but that hardly means that our T.O.P. will be phenomenal by any means.


Anonymous said...

When thinking of the running backs who've played on the Lions, colleges from the great state of Oklahoma figure prominently: Sims, Sanders.

Speaking of Barry chatted with him for a minute or so in the Somerset Mall in Troy, MI this morning, but I digress.

Tatum Bell graduated from Oklahoma State, so logic suggests he should be a good thing for the Lions, I for one with the departure of Martz, am willing to start all over him, with this year being the beginning of true measure in the simplified, condensed Coletto offense, so I tend to think a running back will be taken in a later round.

Because lifestyle doesn't permit watching college ball on Saturday (it is the Sabbath), I'll leave the great debate on whom we should draft, and why we should draft them in this round or that round to others. All I will say someone is going to be there at 15 that will potentially fill a void on the Lions roster, draft to fill the need, then proceed with the plan to draft the next need(s).

Read all the Sherlock Holmes mysteries earlier in life, now I read the literature from the link below.


Go Lions

jreffy said...

While I have nothing against Mendenhall at all (I loved watching him run for IL on Saturdays) I would prefer the Lions take an Offensive Lineman. There is a plethora of late-round running backs that can become elite performers (T. Davis, R. Grant, and many more).

Furthermore, if you have an Offensive Line who can plow through defenders, it doesn't really matter WHO your running back is (see Denver Broncos), you'll have a great running game, and the passing game will benefit as well.

I am all for taking an OT at #15, or someone to bolster the defense further, and wait for an RB until the 2nd day, or perhaps with a second 2nd round pick.

Anonymous said...

wait a minute, you can't watch football on the sabbath?

CHIEFGER139 said...

this is chiefs last plea-listen closely-this year were draftin 15-previously we drafted top 10-we by passed many qb's who's made it-linebackers(harris) runningbacks-ap
i truely think we are getting better-the 15 pick proves it-rod has got this thing turned around -do any of you-all serios lions fans like myself think were going down hill and next year were pickin 2nd or 3rd again??-i dont-we have a chance of gettin the 2nd best back in the league-maybe the 1st-and you want to pass up this chance-this guy could posssibly some day take us to the superbowl-when next year we have the 20th-through 31st draft-then we can build around this guy-truthfully thats why i think millen took stanton-these high picks only come when your down and out and he truelly believes hes somthin special-i say take the rb now -maybe the best we will ever have a chance at again-make the lions great again-lions great in 2208 platoffs and beyond!!
p.s. im puttin this same post on m.live-i believe in it that much

CHIEFGER139 said...

sorry 2008

jreffy said...

Chief, what about all the draft picks in the top 10 that were busts as well? What about Cedric Benson? Ki-Jana Carter?

Picking in the top 10 is not a guaranteed hit.

As I have said before, you can find running backs that will lead you to the playoffs outside of the 1st round. So why not bolster your offensive line, and draft a running back later? ANY Running Back can be effective behind a great line. Not to mention with a great line, your passing game will improve as you will have more time to pass, and therefore more time for receivers to get open.

So pick up a top-rated OL with the first pick, and then grab a RB with a later pick. Two holes filled, and you improve your team more.

paul.abdenour said...

you were right on... 2208! We suck. Why do we suck? Because Millen is at the helm and he loves the sexy flashy pick... OL. OL. OL. OL. That is the Answer... No team wins a superbowl without continuity and consistency up front. We should draft 2 tackles in the first 3 rounds, a LB and a DE/DL