First, a fun story that got me thinking. My wife and daughters (ages 6-5-4) were shopping at Kohls last week. There was, as usual, a fairly big 50% of 80% off section, so my wife told them they could each pick out a fleece sweatshirt. So as they are looking around, my middle daughter goes "Daddy's Lions MOM! FOOTBALL LIONS!" (to them it is always "Daddy - there's your football Lions.") "Can we get them??"
So I am sitting in my office. As you know, my boss grew up near Chicago and is a HUGE Bears fan. My girls come running in going "Daddy -- Look! Look! We're Lions!" -- They were all wearing matching pink Lions fleece hooded pullovers. Beautiful. I thought my boss was going to cry - shaking his head going "why?why!?" (all in fun). I was thinking -- boy, could the Lions use my girls at MLB - they'd hit way harder than Lenon...
Then they pulled an even better surprise -- they found a Lions Fleece (non-hooded) for me. Awesome. I'll post a picture of us sometime.
It was great fun, and now they like to go out and say Daddy - can we all be Lions today? Then get all excited because we match (minus the Pink for them and Blue for me) Times like that make you remember what being a Lions fan is really all about.
Be sure to check the comments on this and older stories as there is some really great ideas and corrections there. I try to respond when I can as well.
I have had a few people ask about Buster Davis, and I have not been able to find anything concrete out about his progress either. This is the time of year when smoke, mirrors, and acrobatic monkeys are all flying about so it is hard to tell what teams are actually doing, who they want, and how players are really recovering from injuries, or progressing along.
If I had to take a guess (I don't but I will anyway) then I would say Buster is a possibility to back up Ernie on the weak side, or Lenon/Lewis on the SLB -- but I do not see him as a T2 MLB. The MLB is one of the few positions in the T@ where you really need a superstar. They are responsible for diagnosing run/pass -- deep/short. Screen? Change to the D play call at the line? Move coverage? Stop short, comeback, and crossing patterns over the short-mid middle whether it is a RB, TE, or WR running the route, all while looking to clean up runs sideline to sideline, and occasionally shooting the hole and sacking the QB, or hitting the RB in the backfield.
In other words, Buster may not be a bad LB, but he is no way doing all of that. The knocks on him are that he is not as quick as Ernie, and doesn't diagnose plays well. While he is a little undersized, other than rare players like Urlacher it is very difficult to find speed, instinctive ability to diagnose plays, and good size all in one player. Even saying that, Urlacher is not exactly the stoutest against the run. The DT's are supposed to do the heavy lifting of stopping runs up the middle, while the MLB just helps either the SLB, WLB, or DT's finish off the run, or slow them in the backfield. In other words, the T2 MLB spends more time in coverage than running into guys head on the the OLB do. That is part of the reason T2 teams tend to have at least 3-4 DT that they rotate to keep fresh with 2 being pass-rushers, and 2 run stoppers (as far as strengths -- they all can and will have to do both).
Lenon had problems instictually diagnosing the plays in the middle. He and Lewis both have the physical skills, but both lack that talent. Because of that, Lenon was always either getting to the runner, or getting to the receiver just that half second too late. Add in some severe lack of tackling (how can pro-football players not do the most basic of all skills still just kills me. Like Basketball Players and FreeThrows.) and you have the mess of passes completed over the middle. Also, being late to get to the runner meant guys like AP that NEED more than one guy to take them down got a couple extra yards every play at best, and got through the initial tackler at worst.
As for the Draft, Connor would be moving to the middle, although it is projected he could play there from what little I've read. I've seen Lofton and Mayo mentioned as possibly being available in the second. I really don't have any info on college players yet, and don't have time to watch any college ball, so I'm really in the dark on the College guys.
In my opinion there were not any FA MLB that knew the scheme so as to do better than a rookie, fit with the team, and were available for the right price. I know they tried for Vilma but I've already said some on that. I am also not convinced that he is going to be healthy enough to make the long term impact needed to justify his price. However, the big thing is that his attitude is NOT that of a Marinelli player. While Barry said they made a strong run at him, I think in the end they weren't willing to pay the price for a player that didn't want to rework his contract. I don't think Spikes would be an upgrade at this point over Ernie for sure, he isn't really suited to the T2 MLB, and is his price increase over Lewis/Lenon on the strong side really justified? I'm not so sure on that score. IF healthy...that big IF.
Any thoughts on the MLB position from you the readers? I'd love to hear them! Also, not just names of guys the Lions should look at for MLB (regardless of round) but what their strengths/weaknesses are as far as the position description listed above. Should be fun! (Not required, but would be informative for all -- lots of little bits of knowledge can add up to a clearer picture)