Wednesday, April 30, 2008
First, I would like to congratulate...ME! I won (tie) theNetRat's Lions Draft Guru contest, and am the Draft Guru for the next year. By extension, you all win as well, since I took your input into account when making my picks and answering the "quiz" questions.
Here are the links to the three scenarios as I have taken them off the side panel:
Where they Fall
Now, the Dallas & Jax trades didn't occur -- however, that won't stop me from looking at who the Lions chose with their 1st 5 picks (so those who put down 4th round choices, which was almost everyone, on choose where they fall, I'll count that as 3c. Kinda.)
First up: Jax Trade
Well, the Lions traded down, but only two spots (funny enough, the #1 choice by an overwhelming margin in our Poll was to trade down to 18-25 -- and 17 is pretty close!). We know now that trading down with KC (for Minnesota's Original pick) put the Lions in a position to take Smith first.
Here's how we did:
First of all, those who whiffed so bad as to not catch a single pick:
A. Lambert, JJLions20, JCLions, Lopper, Chief - congratulations!
Here's what is crazy: Mayo was gone at 10 -- he was the most popular first pick, along with Lofton who did go 3rd pick of round 2 (#34 overall I think). JJ had us taking Lofton over Mayo assuming that BOTH were still there at pick 45, round 2. Most of us were assuming that at #26 a premium OT would be available, the other half assuming the same scenario at 45 -- Baker or Cherilous. Turns out those two, and Brown were all gone by pick 26! And Nicks, another popular selection, lasted til pick 164! Yowsers! Chief, Leo and Flip did all get our OT pick correct (albeit in the wrong round) and had us with Cherilus.
None of us fared well at all; the pick that we got right most was Kevin Smith with the 3a, although it actually occurred much higher than we anticipated. There were many who had Fluellen as a pick -- but in the 4th, a full round after he was chosen (myself included) -- and 2 or 3 had Avril on their board as a pick -- but usually with 2b. -- again, about exactly a full round higher than he went.
Considering how different than the Jax scenario the picks actually occurred (who knew Jax would sell the farm to get Harvey?? - that high??) I'm amazed we got any right at all.
It actually shows how in tune our crew is with what types of players Rod was targeting -- even some of the "misses" were guy other teams either snagged before the Lions picked, or traded up to get. Both Mayo and Crable went to NE...still think Mayo would have been a reach at 15?
The Dallas trade scenario actually came closest to where the Lions actually picked, if you sub out the 2b for 3a (#61 versus #64), then make the 2 3rds 3b and 3c. So to me, this is the mock we should have been closest on. We weren't. We were worse than on the Jax scenario!!
On the whole, most everyone's picks, including mine, almost totally whiffed -- Cheif actually had the best picks on that one -- he had Cherilus, but in the 2nd. If you flip-flop his OT-MLB and taking DE-DT versus DT-DE with the 4th and 5th picks of the draft, he was right on with position, just not player.
Funniest thing about this scenario was that almost every single mock had guys at every position and round going about 1 round AFTER they actually ended up being picked (myself included). Once again, Kevin Smith wins the most correctly mocked to be picked by the Lions award.
Finally, the "where they lay" scenario...Yoinks!
First off, while your humble Narrator was pretty close (I had the wrong OT in the first -- Williams vs Cherilous, Wrong MLB in the 2nd, had Smith right with 3a, but had Fluellen as 4 versus 3b, and the DE as 3b versus 4...still not too bad.) -- Le0sfan gets the prize!!
Le0sfan chose both the 3a and 3b picks -- Smith and Fluellen -- correctly. Go Le0sfan!!
JJLions and Anonymous both pegged Dizon as the Lions' 5th pick.
that was fun all! I'll try to come up with a better format for next year if I can.
The rest of us...well, lets just say we can make Matt Millen look like he knows what he's doing...kinda like Rod did this year!!
Don't worry, my draft analysis and grades will come along - eventually.
Keep up the posts on the UDFA's, and don't forget to vote in the two new polls -- and you can vote for TWO OPTIONS on the first, so be sure to do so! Please be sure to notice the new UDFA link on the side, and post UDFA and FA signing news there. I'll keep track of it, and update in summary on the main blog. I really appreciate all the analysis and input everyone posts on here -- keep it coming!!
* The Lions seem to be taking their time on the FA market, and in a way, this makes sense. A couple of the people they have brought in (LS?) are camp bodies to be sure. I think what the Lions don't want to do is bring in too many UDFAs. While they had a lot of needs heading into the off season, and there are positions that could be improved, it stems back to a problem they had a bit last year: Too many bodies, too few snaps. The Lions have brought in a lot of new blood already through FA and the Draft -- and a quick glance at the position groups tells me there is some tight competition at almost every position.
Thought: The Lions are bringing in fewer players, so they can really light a fire under the guys that are there. Since, outside of QB, they already have 4-5 deep competing for 2 spots in most places, and in most the starting spots even are up for grabs, meaning roughly half the guys hanging on the roster right now will not be making the team at most position groups. I'll look at this a little closer.
*If that is the case, it means the Lions are pretty confident in the players they have right now winning starting jobs, and don't feel it is necessary to mess with a Legion of UDFA rather than working the guys they have
*It then follows that they really need to bring in a couple more OT, and CB, and DE. There is sufficient competition everywhere else to warrant sticking with who they have. There are only 80 players allowed in training camp (as the NFL Owners Vetoed a motion to increase that number for the off season, since it is harder than ever to find quality injury replacements during the season.), so some guys are already going to get cut before camp, if my quick math is correct.
*"Grades" for the Lions' draft seem to be all over the place. I liked the Hondo article that had the various scouts grading the Lions' draft -- what is funny is that the pick pundits said was the biggest steal - Avril - was the lowest grade by those scouts. My thoughts? they were looking at him as a 3 down DE -- which is not where he will start with the Lions. IAF is the 3-down DE with White; Avril will be the rush-specialist on obvious passing downs, and I expect them to move him around the two end spots, and even different LB spots to bring pressure from as a rush specialist -- similar to how Justin Tuck was used by the Giants last year.
*I'll be releasing my initial gut grades - for the whole draft, GM/scouting grade, pick-by-pick, very soon. Still working on it.
*Keep the info coming in on the UDFA, and draft analysis. I'm trying to figure out a good way to get it all compiled in one spot, so I'll let you fellows know what I come up with (if anything) -- for now, I'll do what I usually do -- summarize and reiterate the info and ideas from your comments, and around the web, adding my two cents in as we go along.
*Initial look is that GB, Min, and Chi all had good drafts and offseasons as well so far -- I think that the NFC North may really earn back the black-blue division moniker this season, and maybe even put two teams to the playoffs. It was close last year, and I think the Pack have come back to the pack a little, and the others have all improved. Only time will tell.
*Soccer night again, but look for an update/post late tonight/early am tomorrow.
Monday, April 28, 2008
As I looked at articles regarding Caleb Cambell, I saw the negative posts below them and couldn't believe my eyes. I literally wanted to scream in rage and puke on my computer.
You go where the army tells you to. You do what the army wants you to. Starting this year, the Army said if you can make it as a pro-football player, you can choose to go for it and recruit for at least two years, and then serve a minimum of 6 in the reserves (8 years versus the 5 years standard) should you so choose. But while in the NFL, you are also still in the army! So he answers to the Lions and Uncle Sam. He is serving as a great example to our youth that while we are all called to serve our country, we are called to serve in different ways. Some who would rather be leading their troops, will be called instead to use the spotlight that is on them to recruit more soldiers to follow -- to be sure that the Army has the troops it needs, so that when a soldier's time is done, he has the choice to come home because there are enough new soliders in the Army to replace his services.
Some of us had physical limitations that didn't allow us to serve, even though we wanted to -- so instead, we support those who go, and live our lives as free Americans respecting and honoring those who make that freedom possible! He is a young man who is doing what his country wants, and needs, him to do. Why does it matter if that also happens to be what he wants to do? Isn't that what freedom is all about? The chance to be and do what you dream -- that almost anything is possible -- if you make it so.
I have many cousins who have served in all branches of our armed forces. Many of the Men I graduated Northen Michigan University with were in the ROTC -- I graduated to a desk, selling insurance and raising my kids. They graduated to choppers and combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. They signed up before the War started -- but were ready to go when it did. I wanted to enter the service...but you have to be able to be counted on when your Men need you...be able to perform physically when it matters...see what you are doing...and if you fail those tests, you cannot. But you can appreciate every day that you are free because of the Men and Women in the armed forces who serve and protect our country, and our freedom. And you can encourage you children to have the Patriotism and Love of this country that will allow them to become involved in something beyond themselves, if that is how they may best serve our country. I protect people every day -- with contracts, and phone calls -- my customers see me regularly -- they know what it is I do for them, and what the cost is. They also are reminded by the flag on my wall that we are part of a great country -- and that we are all being protected by thousands of soldiers we do not see every day. And we will never know what it costs our country -- what the loss of their lives means; yet, protect us they do -- willingly, faithfully --- knowing that their sacrifice makes millions of lives safer and free.
I have lost friends to war; relatives to war; but what a college friend of mine told me before leaving for Afghanistan has always stuck out in my mind the most. It's not about me -- it's about you. You, and your neighbors, and your friends, people you've never met, and never will. We had nothing, no way to pay to get an education. But this country paid for our education. It paid for us to be able to sit in a safe college classroom, to study, to learn, to have fun, to start a family, to work a job, to be free. Now its time for us to pay our country back. You'll pay it back in dollars. I'll pay it back with sacrifice. You'll pay it voting, and paying taxes. I'll pay it voting, and using those taxes to protect it. We will both make sacrifices, but as long as you can talk to your customers, play with your kids, and drive to the store without worrying about bombs dropping on your head, or fanatics blowing up your office, or ruthless dictators telling you what you can and cannot believe, and say -- I can do my job and give my life --knowing that it makes you free to do yours...and that the sacrifices our Founding Fathers paid in blood to grant our freedom, and blood we must give to maintain it -- are worth giving for the value of the lives of all those who remain free and safe because of it.
God Bless America!!!
I'll do my own version of those methods tonight. Til then, have fun coming up with your grades, and keep letting me know what you think.
Great information on the prospects thus far, and the more I see -- the more I like this draft. Keep posting your UDFA, and we'll see who the Lions pick up in the coming days.
There are a LOT of Lions veterans who better be getting ready to put up a fight, or be out of a job...
Also, your thoughts on Pearson? I'll see if I can find anything more on it. If anyone else does, please let us know!
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I will say, my initial gut reaction is that this could be a great draft -- only time will tell, but they stuck to the Marinelli philosophy from yesterday, and got 2 great steals, and a guy they knew they wanted, in the 3rd. (Smith, Fluellen,Avril)
We really won't know how good this draft really is for a few years, but my gut right now says "great draft!"
Here is a link from Mlive with everyone invited to the 5-2-08 to 5-5-08 minicamp.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
First of all, everyone who was ranting on the Lions possibly "reaching" for Mayo at 15 were unequivocally wrong. Period. Also, the idea that all the "1st round" OT's, Stewart, Harvey and Mayo would be gone at 15 wasn't so far-fetched after all. Imagine how Houston felt. It was projected that at the spot they were, they would have had a choice between Cherilous and Baker, both of whom were long gone.
There was a trade down -- albeit, only two spots but it leaves the Lions perfectly positioned heading into day 2, round 3; They essentially have the 3rd pick in the draft tomorrow, and there is a lot of talent left on the board. Judging by Marinelli's MO thus far, I say they get their RB in Kevin Smith with the 3a., and possibly move up to take langford in the 3rd as well -- depending, I can also see them maybe landing Red Bryant or a DT. Godfrey is a possibility with #3a, but I don't think Smith will last to 3b and he is their only targeted back other than Tashard Choice left on the board. Fluellen in later round might be an option as well -- I seem to remember that Marinelli was really intrigued by him.
Peeking at out Mocks, we were definitely all VERY wrong. Nice to know how predictable the draft really is.
Connor will be the likely #1 to Miami, but despite those comments lambasting the Lions for taking Dizon over Connors, it is clear thus far that the teams preceding the Lions (who took Lofton off the board -- too bad, I wanted to see them land him) felt the same thing -- had Connor been taken before Lofton, looking at how the draft fell, Lofton would have been there for the Lions. There as only one LB taken after Dizon in round 2, Groves, and if I remember correctly, he did projects (and was often listed) as a DE tweener guy. Correct me if I'm wrong guys. This tells me that teams felt a lot better about other talent on the board. We shouldn't be surprised, as the Lions telegraphed this pick well in advance as their alternative to be sure they got one of the three LB prospects they wanted -- Mayo went #10, Lofton went early 2, so they went with option 3 in the 2nd, and there is still a LOT of talent out there. Connors, who is dropping like an acme Anvil, was listed as the other LB in the top 4 ILB's by Mayock and Kiper -- so how is that a reach?
One interesting trend is that all 8 OT projected to go in the 1st/2nd round were gone by pick 26 of round one! That means 1 in 3.25 picks up to that point was an OT -- and they were basically picked until only 3rd+ talent remained. Even then, SF "reached" for a 3rd round "graded" G in 2. Oline is important, and teams gutted the position early.
I've seen a lot of negative press already about the Lions first two picks -- which is great!! Whenever the draftniks have loved the Lions' draft, it has been awful. Good sign right there.
Dizon may seem a reach, but they obviously felt him better than guys such as wheeler and Goff who would be available in 3.
As I sit here looking over things again one last time, I must say so far I am quite pleased with the "unsexy" draft the Lions are conducting right now. Would that they had focused in on Need this much last year, but the past is past. Cherilous was hovering around the 4th - 5th best OT, and that is where the Lions took him. They just knew that in order to do so, they had to do it in one. And really, who else was the pick at 17?? At least they knew they didn't have a need at G, and knew that was who KC wanted as they need help all along the line; Ariz was CB or RB so it was a safe trade back for a guy who will most likely start at RT to begin the season -- if he doesn't it will be because Scott has played lights-out. Also, I can possibly see a healthy Scott getting reps as the backup LT -- thoughts on that?? If he can stay healthy, maybe he can push Backus -- if not, then they can get a LT early next year as the prime focus, and have a great young Guards and Tackles that will leave them set on the line for 6 or 7 years, with only Raiola needing to be replaced as he ages/an upgrade is available.
If Dizon doesn't work at MLB, at worst they will have one heck of a starting young SLB in Dizon, and can again target a MLB in next year's draft, and pray the picks fall better than they did this year.
Search and Destroy -- Block out the Sun Baby!!
One final thought before I sign off: Marinelli really wasn't kidding about taking a player where he had them ranked, and not giving a shit about where draftniks had them ranked. That whole speil about he preferred to look at taped on how fast they moved in a game, not how fast they ran in shorts was right on two. (Dizon's "measureables" aren't there -- but the tape and the stats say they are. Enough Bailey and Kalimba who had the measureables, but not the "it". )Hope he keeps it up, and more importantly -- I hope it works!!
Can't wait to see how tomorrow goes!! I will follow the same type of format as yesterday -- just post your thoughts here and hopefully tomorrow I'll actually be around to jump in more!
Crack open the brew, throw some burgers and brats on the grill, and pull out the Lions paraphernalia --- It's Draft Day!!!!
Friday, April 25, 2008
15 LB Jerod Mayo Tennessee Jr. 6-2 230
Mike O'Hara is the Lions beat writer for the Detroit News. For more coverage of Detroit's draft, click here.You could hear hearts crack in the Lions' draft compound when the Panthers took Harvey. That's whom the Lions' targeted at No. 15. They want to look to defense, but consider other options. They've had nine first-round draft picks since 2000 and eight have been used on offense -- one quarterback, one running back, two tackles and four wide receivers. The exception was 2006, when Rod Marinelli took linebacker Ernie Sims in his first year as head coach. Sims is the only first-round pick starting on the Lions' defense. Marinelli wants fresh legs and more talent on defense. With Harvey off the board, the choices are a running back, trading down or staying put and going for defense. The Lions like Mayo. He can play inside or outside.FANNATION COMMENT: Mayo is projected as an early 2nd round pick, but when you've got a guy you like, you don't gamble and the Lions are high on Mayo. Mayo and Sims make a great start to the new "Detroit Deuce" (formerly the Tampa 2). They will use their 2nd round pick to fill the spot in the backfield. -- jrefenes
The use of the Deuce is spreading my friends! If the Lions keep making strides, we'll be hearing more and more about the Detroit Deuce -- Go Lions!!!
And that is how you get the chance to dream...
Now that the mustache has been silenced, what will Rod do...
RULES: Realistic trades (either by the draft chart, or team needs values/relationship); Keep it to picks if possible, but this is the "dream" scenario. so have at 'er -- start with what the Lions have, and then move about the board, take who you project to be there, trade again, etc. Be sure to let us know: Who the trade is with, and why they are willing to trade, if trading up be sure to have a targeted player since it is pointless to do so if you do not.
I'll post the LIVE DRAFT blog tomorrow, and join you in the evening when I return.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Here's the deal:
- Kids' Soccer til about Noon
- Drive 40 minutes to St.Johns. (1pm).
- Drive 1 hr to Mt. Pleasant to help Kid Sis move home from college (congrats to her - graduates in May.)
- Pack up her stuff (she lives in a 3rd floor apartment. She better be packed)
- Likely it will be about 3pm or so when we depart for St.Johns again (I usually eat lunch on the go, but if we stop for that, it could be closer to 4pm)
- Unload, manage to drive home...
- Probably about 5-6 pm by the time I get home.
My Estimate for when the Lions will make pick 15: 5 - 5:30. Great.
Here is what I am going to do: I will be posting a story Saturday AM titled "Live Draft Blog" -- You loyal readers can post your comments on the draft as it is occuring, your analysis, etc. -- and I will hop in and out once I return home. I will post a new story on Sunday so we can repeat the process.
Following that, the post-draft frenzy of analysis will begin!!
Does anyone know: Does the draft shift to ESPN2 or NFLN for day 2/later rounds? I know I don't get NFLN, and I'm not sure about ESPN2.
I keep hearing the phrase "it better be Hershal Walker or keep him." -- I don't know about you guys, but while Hershel Walker was fantastic, I'm not thinking that he will be able to help the Lions out this season. Just sayin....
BTW -- Only two days left to get your posts onto the Rock-solid mocks! I will be posting one more scenario: Create Your Realistic Dream Scenario Scenario tomorrow for our last shot, so give yours some thought tonight, and I will post it, probably around 9am-ish EST tomorrow.
One more funny note: I got my NFL Draft pre-view issue of SI -- and it is already wrong, as Jake Long was taken first overall already. LOL -- I will say, I liked that it had the Lions taking Brandon Albert at 15 with Williams, Clady, Long and Otah off the board. After reading that and your comments on here, I got to thinking: He'll upgrade G, RT, or LT -- but no matter what, he'll likely earn a starting spot this season...and that would improve the line! So even if he "busts" and ends up as a G (which something tells me he won't) -- then the Lions get a solid Oline starter, and can draft another OT early again next season!
Too many choices - we'll have to see who's there. In two days.
Til tomorrow then, Lions Fans!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Things are really taking off this year as the draft approaches faster and faster -- St. Louis is no the clock, Jared Allen is now a Viking while KC has added the 17th pick to the 5th in round 1, and now has more 3rd's than the Lions do. PacMan Jones is a Cowboy, which significantly diminishes the chances of Dallas trading up with Detroit for a CB (one would think).
On the whole, not a lot of positive developments in regards to impact on the Lions, as far as I can tell. One things seems for sure thought right now -- there is a trend for big trades involving early draft picks going on -- and as the preference of voters on this blog was Mayo or Trade Down, the Trade Down part of that looks more likely. It also seems there at least a half a dozen teams so desperate to get a proven #1 WR in a very weak draft year, that they are starting to throw out stupid trade offers for WR that aren't even on the block, and that their respective teams have no intention of trading! Johnson, Boldin, and Roy W. are the big three, and Larry F. earlier this month. Wowsers! I have also heard a rumor that the Lions have secured at least a 4th round offer for McDonald, and are holding out trying to work it up to a 3rd. No credible source yet on this one, so I'll let you know when I know more.
My take? he has good hands, but bad awareness -- he never seems to know where the 3rd down marker is, or think to get out of bounds -- both things Furrey is great at. With more involvement from the tight ends, there will be a lot fewer 4 WR sets, so I think McDonald is the best trade option, and if he is indeed at least worth a 4th -- I would take it, but agree a 3rd would be even better. Considering the thin WR market and the cost of those WR available, I see the Lions realistically getting either a low 3rd or high 4th for him. Anything less than than a 4th I would say just keep him, and roll with the last year of his contract. Furrey is signed for two more years, and both are quite affordable (another reason McDonald has trade value -- they don't have to give up the pick AND a huge contract.)
As for my take on the Allen trade...high risk move for the Vikings, and very expensive. In case anyone is panicking about how Allen will set up shop in the Lions' backfield, consider this: The Lions can negate him and the Williams Wonder Twins in the middle by the simple expedient of running outside straight at Allen while making the big boys in the middle chase after him. Why? Because Allen is a sack artist, but as we discussed in the specialist blog, he is not very good at all against the run. As soon as they pull him out, what do you do? Why pass of course. Right into the freakish-awful Vikings secondary. You'll tire out Allen and the boys in the middle, and by the 4th quarter, the Vikings D will be worn out -- and unless their Offense becomes more than Adrian Peterson, they are going to be shut down as easy as it was to shut down the pass only Lions last season. The Lions Secondary has improved enough that I would dare the Vikings to beat me through the air -- because I don't think they can do it. And with the addition of Allen, they have one 2nd rounder to add in the first 3 rounds to fill their other holes. And Bernard-I-Drop-60%-of-my-passes-Berrian is their #1 wideout. #2? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Also, the fact that they got a 1 and two 3rds for a disgruntled franchised player says loads for what Roys value would be next year, should they choose not to re-sign him long term. At least Roy is smart enough about the business side to know the deal he gets, and the Lions get, will be a lot better if he keeps on talking...about how business is business, and he understands, and just wants to play his best whereever he ends up. As long as he keeps that line of tact out there, he will either get his payday (rightfully) from the Lions, or he will get it from another team -- while bringing the Lions a couple of first rounders. Maybe all this news out there isn't so bad after all.
Other thoughts: Mock drafts are still varying widely, and this is one of the most free-for-all drafts I have seen in a long time. Should be exciting. I will say, right now, it appears the Lofton, Connors, and Mayo could all be gone by pick 45. One guy I would say to look at later would be Wheeler.
I did see what I thought was a great article by Stewart Mandel, who covers college football for SI, regarding over and under valued college players. It confirms my gut feeling that I see Kevin Smith as the best back in this class. No stats to back it up, or film, for me. Just a feeling. At this point, assuming Mayo at 15, if the "big 3" MLB and 2nd tier OT are gone in 2, then go with Smith. Take Wheeler, Goff, or Dizon to be your MLB in 3a or 3b. Poss Pick up Langford for the DE, and Fluellen in the 5th.
If Williams OT is there -- I say take him PLEASE -- smart OT, good mature kid, and could really challenge Backus for the LT this year or next; and Backus would upgrade the right side - ugrading the whole line.
There I go again...if if If IF -- only two more days.
If one thing is certain with this year's draft for the Lions, it is that nothing is certain.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
My wife and I were relaxing after the kids went to bed. Sitting in our living room, drinking tea, we looked out the window and saw a squirrel jump into our fenced in back yard and start scurrying around, hunting for something. We have a full walk-out basement, so even though we were in the living room, it was like looking out the second story window. Now, we have a black-walnut tree off the back property line, so in the fall, there are plenty of nuts around (other than the neighbors in back and the members of our household, yours truly foremost). But at this time of year, pretty much nothing. We have been working on some landscaping, however, so we've been doing some digging, replanting, etc. and figured maybe he smelled some roots or something. There are also spots where we used excess dirt to fill in holes made by the prior owners' dog. So there are about a half a dozen round spots of fresh dirt amid the grass. the squirrel is furiously digging through spots of the grass, checks out all the spots we've dug. He keeps going back to the fresh dirt circles over and over, hoping to find something, even thought he already knows there is nothing there. At this point, it was kind of intriguing for three reasons:
1. We were wondering how he would get out, since he had practically fallen in, and I had cut down the small tree he was using to enter and exit the yard (we have a 6' wooden privacy fence. )
2. Wondering if he would actually find anything, or futilely do the same thing over and over, expecting different results.
3. We were tired, and didn't feel like doing anything useful, and figured a squirrel was more entertaining (marginally) than to hear the Democrats arguing with each other in Pennsylvania.
As we sat there watching, he suddenly decided to visit a part of the yard he had not been to -- it was right near our patio -- and in a blink digs down and comes up with the big old black walnut! We were totally shocked that we had been walking right over this walnut and didn't even see it! Floored, totally floored, that he actually found something. Then he did something more puzzling than a bunch of liberals flying individual private jets burning expensive carbon based fuels at an absurdly low efficiency halfway around the world to attend a massive evening concert using enormous amounts of dirty-coal produced electricity in a developing country just to light the place and run the sound equipment to bring attention to how we all need to do more about global warming and carbon emissions. He dug furiously near one of the spots of fresh dirt -- and buried the walnut! Then he went looking for new nuts. He left the yard unsuccessful (via climbing onto wooden posts I haven't taken out yet that used to be part of a teeter-totter, and jumping) and moved to "greener pastures". ROTFLMAO -- Stupid Squirrel. He got rid of a big fat walnut so he could go look for another one, and ended up with nothing. First thing I thought of? Matt Millen.
Gotta love the way my mind works sometimes.
I have often heard the phrase "even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then." Give me a smart blind squirrel any-day! Why? Because squirrels don't use visual cues to find the nuts they have buried and hidden -- they use their sense of smell. Most of the time, the food they find and consume was actually put there by a different squirrel or other animal/source -- sometimes years before. (As a side note, this is how tress and other plants are spread out from where they fall as the buried seeds, if not eaten, grow.)
Main point? -- No vision = enhanced sense of smell = blind squirrels are better at finding nuts.
So please, no one reference a blind squirrel finding a nut as an idiot getting it right through sheer luck. Better to say that you're bound to get at least one or two questions right if you always mark "C" on multiple choice tests (or take 4 WR in the top 10).
What it made me think of next was Roy Williams. The Lions have finally found a nut or two in the draft instead of chasing after the dug-up empty spots of dirt successful teams have left behind (FA, failed picks). And if they trade him, it will be like the squirrel burying the nut and starting over again searching. (proven for draft pick) There is a reason teams are hot to give up a low-first round pick to start in trying to get him -- he is a top 10 (#7) overall pick who turned into a pro-bowler! An early pick, who is preforming great and entering his prime playing years as a WR; considering there is about a 75% chance a player taken at #7 will be a bust or an average player, to me that means Roy is worth at least 2 high-mid first rounders as a pick who worked in his prime. Period. No Less. And that is just replacement cost -- I think he is more valuable to the franchise than that, and will be worth as much or more on the market next season should they decide to trade him rather than retain him at that point.
So I say: don't bury the walnut unless someone is handing you one at least twice as big! And even then think twice -- bigger isn't always better.
(I know, I know, have fun with this one guys!)
I recently was looking at some toys on Ebay for the kids -- Transformers, to be precise. Not the new ones, but older ones from the early 80's when I was a kid. I got the old cartoon show from that Era for them, and they love it. I was bidding on a lot of I think 10 toys. They were in well played with condition, and the bid was very reasonable. So I started bidding. Then another guy decided at the last 15 minutes he had to have them. There were no rares in this lot. It was average, common, units. They were in very played with shape (perfect for kids to use). Then a 3rd guy hops in -- I took it about twice what I originally intended to pay at the most (double my original stopping point) in the heat of the bidding before coming to my senses and dropping out. I had been pricing them for a while, and knew what they were going for. I would have very much overpaid. They finally sold for 4 times what I ended my bidding at! (Proportionately, their "value" bid was $25, maximum value $50, I stopped at $100, and they sold for $400. Not kidding. Got a better lot for $30 bucks that same day.)
Whenever there is a bidding war, particularly among rivals for something they know the "opposition" wants, then you end up with an ending value ridiculously above market price. #22, #61 and a conditional 2nd or 3rd that could be a first next year if Roy performs (which you know he likely will)? How much will Jerry Jones, or the Eagles, or KC Pony-up to keep division rivals from getting a WR they want to have, but don't want to defend twice a year? It could get into $400 territory -- and if it does, pro-bowler or no, against my wishes or not, everything has a price. If the E-Bay Fever takes over, some team may actually say yes to the Lions and pay $400 for something that's worth twenty five to fifty bucks.
For the record, I'm betting against it; but I never have been much of a gambler.
When it comes to ineptitude drafting in this decade, 4 teams stand out, and right now, Detroit is the best of the 4. They are Miami, Atlanta, Oakland and of course, Detroit. Picks in the 2008 draft 1st round? 1,3,4, 15. Frankly, if success in the draft translates to success on the field, than the relative positions in which they are picking this year shows who has been the most successful in the most recent drafts. Atlanta may have made the playoffs in the past, and Oakland went to a Superbowl (due to FA, and really nothing to do with their draft -- and it shows, because they fell very fast, and very hard after that) -- but we are talking about success in the draft. Miami went from Marino to a pathetic Baltimore effort away from 0-16. Atlanta's most successful drafts picks (2 of them) are 1. In Jail and 2. Now playing in Oakland. As for 1st round WR, they are 0-2. At least Millen went 50% on 1st Round WRs!
If you think Millen and 1st round WR don't mix -- how about Al Davis and that secondary of his! Check out Silver's numbers: Al Picked 5 players in the first round in the defensive secondary and only 1, Nnamdi Asomugha, has stuck. They still had to trade high picks for Hall, and pay big-money to Wilson -- in the secondary! Think the fact that the Lions' late second round QB didn't play for a 7-9 team due to being put on IR was bad? How about your 1st overall pick QB not playing more than a couple of quarters on a 4-12 team that played 3 other QB's last season -- and the draft pick was healthy! Didn't really strike me how lucky we are as Lions fans 'til I started to look at it.
If you look at the current status, Miami and Atlanta have almost totally new management, and Miami has new majority ownership. So the jury is out on them, and their history gets a "clean slate" until the new management proves itself competent or inept. That leaves Detroit and Oakland in the mix; Detroit has shown steady improvement over the last couple of years, and the biggest negatives are from picks prior to that; While I'm not giving Millen a free-pass on his prior picks, he is much less likely to make a Mike-Williamsesqe pick this draft than he was 3 years ago. Oakland, on the other hand, has gotten, if anything, more dysfunctional.
Organizationally, the Raiders have more problems than the Lions front office. Half of their coaches aren't talking, their HC has no draft input, and getting a bunch of "talent" doesn't mean anything if the coaches cannot get them to buy into what they are doing, and get the chemistry aspect going. At least in Detroit right now, the HC, Coaches, GM, Owner and Scouting staff are all communicating very well. What will come of it remains to be seen, but I, for one, am optimistic.
The Raiders didn't bring in Kalimba to be a backup - they brought him in to be an impact starter, and re-awaken their pass rush. "Me"Angelo is a hit or miss CB, Wilson is a slightly above average safety who happened to be lucky enough to be one of only a couple of FA from the SB Winning team, they paid a Redding sized contract to a DT with a torn ACL that hasn't finished a season, paid a ton of money to Javon "it's all about me, the talent" Walker, who is still coasting off his one good year in GB... The Raiders are throwing a bunch of money at mediocre FA hoping it will help them win-now, and vault their team from "worst to first". He was lucky once, and got to a Superbowl -- don't count on it being very likely to happen again soon.
Rod is patiently building a solid mix of young stars and veteran role players that will form the basic foundation of a team that will be able to compete for many years to come. Good time to be a Lions fan!!
Forget "Kool-Aid" --- I'm drinking the coffee! Strong, Dark, well-brewed.
[not much more to add here under "breaking news" -- KC end rucker retired, meaning possibly one more DE taken, which means one less OT taken, which means...well, which could mean anything, really. Wish I had a contract with $30 million in guarantees. I would go "bust" quicker than you can say "fire millen"!]
Monday, April 21, 2008
"First of all, thanks for the compliment - everyone's readership and input on the comments is very appreciated. I'm not enamored of Johnson for two reasons: 1. I don't want them to take a back in the 1st and 2. I think there is a better chance Mayo will fall to 45 in the 2nd than it is Johnson will still be there.
Atlanta in particular has Turner, but need a speed back/receiver out of the backfield and a KR -- I expect them [Atlanta] to pick someone like Johnson who would fit multiple needs for them with one of their early seconds if possible. Good News is if they do, they also need LB and OT -- so at least one of Detroit's need areas heading into the second round will be hit by one less selection.
If a healthy Calhoun returns, I'm not really thinking that a return guy is high on the list of priorities. While Hester is a freak of nature return guy right now, lets not forget Eddie Drummond -- he was the best returner in the league for two seasons, and gave Detroit the same kind of spark Hester does for the Bears. However, the life of a return specialist is about 3-4 years max. All it takes is one or two injuries, and that balzing speed is no longer so blazing. Supreme confidence that you are taking it to the house, and a wanton abandon and reckless running style are also a must for an "electric" retun man. Drummond had it -- and then lost it after the injuries; he was nothing more than tentative and average his last season in Detroit. Also realize that Hester and Drummond also have another thing in common: Neither makes/made any significant contribution at their "listed" position. The "best" kick returners do great things with the ball in space. However, that is something that rarely happens on offense -- it's a lot harder to catch the ball as a WR than it is as on a PR/KOR -- and as a RB a reverse or a flip screen is about as close as you get; still, the contributions of these types of players in other areas never seem to materialize on a consistent basis. they still score a lot of touchdowns on ST, which is a pretty nice momentum shifter and can't be overlooked.
There are essentially two types of KR: Electric and ConsistentThe electric guys (like Drummond) are a threat to go to the house, but also result in a lot of touch-backs, usually don't contribute to the O or D, and are a specialist. Nice to have, but they do take up a roster spot, and again limit the roster. They also tend to be so focused on the "big play" that their total return yards per each are not that much higher than a consistent return guy -- that is because they are so focused on the big play, that they often will not go for the guaranteed 15 yard gain, for the gamble on a 30 -40 yard gain that ends up being 5 yards. The Consistent guys (ala Calhoun, or even Cason last season) pick up above average yardage, and occasionally break a big one. But they contribute to the roster in other ways, and while they are not going to be "feared" -- they are going to put the offense in good field position almost every time, and sometimes great, and will very seldom end up with a bad return. I haven't looked up the stats, but it would be an interesting study to see if my initial isntincts on these two types are correct, or if I am making a faulty assumption.
While I think that they need more from the return game than they got last year, I think UDFA WR's with great speed and return possibilities should be brought into camp -- the top 4 WR are extremely solid, and the 5th WR would be the most logical choice, outside of a RB already on the roster, to return kicks. Lets not forget Devale Ellis, who is an excellent returner and more than adequate 5th WR is still on the roster as they hid him on IR last year. If he comes back from injury 100%, I think this discussion could be a moot point. I think the fact they didn't re-sign Walters, who was a cheap, quality 5th wideout suggests this may be the case. A CB with return skills would also be a consideration. As for a RB -- the Lions really need a bruising, punishing "bulldozer" runner -- not the type of back who normally makes a good return man.
So I guess the short answer is: Either a CB with return skills in the mid rounds, or a 6th or 7th rnd or UDFA WR. I'm leaning to the UDFA WR. More of a chip on the shoulder should make them "run angry" -- which alway helps. Let them compete with Ellis, Calhoun, and Cason -- and see who adds the title of "returner" to their list of positional flexiblity to help them make the final cut. PS - Marinelli has already explicitly voiced a preference for the consistent type of returner who contributes in other areas -- which is another reason Drummond was let go.
April 20, 2008 11:06 PM "
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Get this, the salary cap hit next year for a first round draft pick this year would be about the same as the Franchise tag for Roy. No savings there either. "
This is just one more thing the Lions are looking at when it comes to trading Roy. Which would you rather have, if the cost is the same: A Pro-Bowl WR or a first round draft pick? (made by the Detroit Lions.)
The question is close to rhetorical, but please feel free to respond still anyways. LOL --
Don't forget to read the other two posts I put on this weekend, plus all the grat comments on that last 3 or 4. Likely nothing more out of me until Monday...which is only what, half an hour away? Wow. Tomorrow then!
6 Days to the Draft! Go Lions!!
Friday, April 18, 2008
Not sure if he reads this blog, but DetroitFan99 had a spectacular post that was pretty much ignored on Mlive. Well, here it is so that we can examine it more:
The concept of "need" when it comes to any football team is an interesting concept. How does one prioritize the "needs" of a particular team?
Is a need always prioritized by the position where the team is weakest? So if you are really weak at punter and have a slightly below avg running back is punter the greater "need" because it is the greater weakness?
Or is a need prioritized by what will improve the team the most if filled with a high quality player even if that particular position is not as weak as other positions?
Should the prioritization of a need be affected by how strong the team is at other positions that are directly effected by the play of that particular position?
All good questions to consider regarding the Lions' "needs" and upcoming draft day.
Very good questions to think about this time of year when there are "experts" who have done nothing but read other experts' mock drafts. There was a great piece on sports illustrated.com that talked about how the draft, and mock drafts in particular, have changed over the years - and what to look for. It also showed how they can have an affect on teams, if they allow it.
When you look at that in context with the above questions, it can easily burst the bubble of "know it all Mel Kiper with better hair" persona many begin to affect this time of year. How many mocks have the Lions taking a RB in round one -- yet, if we truthfully answer the questions above in regards to "should they?" -- then it is obviously a punter-type situation. You may want the top punter, but he's going to be there in the 5th or later. You may even be able to get an UDFA punter who will do as well or better. I think RB falls into that category. As nobsnubber pointed out, the Lions currently have a "speed back" in Calhoun, a "one cut runner" in Bell and just need a grind 'em up steamroller to fill out the current roster. Don't need to take one of the first, or even second, round backs to get that punishing runner. About a 90% chance one of their top choices will still be there for the first pick in the 3rd.
How about a QB in the 5th again if the right prospect falls - to give Orlovsky, Stanton, and Kitna more competition? I'd prefer they wait til later -- perhaps a 6 th or 7th round flier on a possible Tom Brady (LOL -- that has to be thrown into every mention of late round draft picks, right?) Again, looking at need as it is questioned above, those are good things to keep in mind.
I think that, using the criteria above the only true need the Lions have is...nothing. Surprised you there, didn't I? I know that MLB is probably the weakest position on the team right now -- but is it more of a need than a top speed rusher, if they feel the "right guy" is there in the first? Which will impact the defense more -- an immediate upgrade to the Pass Rush, or an upgrade to the MLB? Sure, I'm not saying they couldn't use both -- but there is also the matter of who can you get where?
While I often mock-mocks, the Lions (and every NFL team) not only has their own draft board, but tries to make an educated guess as to who other teams are, or may be, targeting. Does this cause teams to sometimes pick someone "early"? Of course -- but is it better "early" or not getting the player you wanted?
I personally feel that the draft is, at its core, about developing talent. There are some "impact" rookies, but most are just like any other college student entering the workforce -- whether they think so or not, they all need work. That is why passion for the game, character, and work ethic are also very important. A person can have all the talent in the world, but if they aren't willing to learn how to focus and improve it -- they will never rise above the level of gifted amateur to be a real professional. I know that I've blogged on this before - "I can teach an average salesperson how to be good, and a good one how to be great -- but I can't really do much with a potentially great salesperson who won't listen, won't learn, and tries to coast on natural ability. I can get way more production out of the first two people than I can the third -- because they are willing to listen, and work." Nobsnubber pointed out the fact that flexibility isn't the only important factor, and that work ethic plays into how flexible a player is or is willing to be. I didn't bring it up in that post, but still believe that is always the first priority when looking for Marinelli-type players.
What exactly, though, is positional flexibility? I've seen several different ways to approach it, and in the end, have found that they are all correct.
The first form of Positional Flexibility is the typical one we think of -- "he can play DE and DT" or "He is a 3-4 OLB and can rush the passer as a DE". In other words, the ability to play more than one position -- LB and DE, DT and DE, OT and OG, CB and S, S and LB, WR and QB, RB and Return Man, etc.
The second form of positional flexibility is more subtle - it is the ability to play more than one facet of your position. For example, Paris Lenon is a good SLB, but an average MLB at best -- yet he can play both positions. Boss Bailey was a passable SLB but couldn't play in the MLB or the WLB with any proficieny. Keith Smith was passable with flashes at CB, but he absolutely unraveled when they tried him at nickel back. While Redding can be the UT and a proficient DE, he is really not a good NT. This type of positional flexiblity, while often overlooked, is actually as important, or in many cases, more important than the first type.
Opportunity Cost and Specialization Cost are two of the basic principles of all economic thought (along with Animal Spirits, which really don't apply to my example.).
Opportunity Cost is basically the cost in time, money, or lost opportunity to make one choice over another. We have a cost for everything we do because we have finite resources - money, time, intelligence, physical limitations, etc. For instance, if you have $100,000 and you are Matt Millen, you can use it to either:
- Buy a really kick-ass Lionel Train Set that is an exact replica of the Detroit People Mover, including a scale-model replica of Ford Field with little scale model fans holding "Fire Millen" signs.
- Use it to hire some real pro-scouts
If you choose option one, the opportunity cost is option two, and vice versa. If you spend $5.00 on lunch everyday, you are giving up spending $25.00 on a nicer dinner once a week. You can fill up the gas tank now, or put a half tank in and wait to see what gas prices do. Every time we take action thousands of times a day, we are making a choice between two actions (It always comes down to two through the process of elimination humans use mentally, but I figure I won't make everyone stop reading by trying to get into it here.) There is no right or wrong for opportunity cost -- it is merely the second option you didn't take.
Opportunity cost is also not just measured in money, as I mentioned, but in time and talent. I spend my time with my family, writing a Lions Blog, and working (primarily). I am not in very good physical condition because I do not spend time on it. Were I to spend time on it, then I would have to sacrifice something else that I am doing -- the opportunity cost.
When we are discussing limitations on talent, or the opportunity cost of performing one task over another, that is referred to as Specialization Cost. Even if two people are very close in skill level, each person specializing in what they do best leads to better results. For example, lets say that 5BakerStreet and I go into business -- I can bake 8 loaves of bread, or catch 10 Fish in a day whereas 5BakerStreet can bake 10 loaves of bread, but catch only 8 fish in a day. If we each spent half the day fishing, and half the day baking, at the end of the day we would have 9 fish and 9 loaves of bread. But if we each spend all day doing what we do best, we get 10 loaves and 10 fish. Not only that, but as we specialize in our fields - baking and fishing - we get better at our specialty, but not so good at the other. So by specializing I end up being able to catch 12 fish, and 5BakerStreet can bake 12 loaves -- but we are now only able to bake 6 loaves and catch 6 fish, respectively. This is because as we focus on practicing what we do best, we lose some of the skill and speed that comes with doing something frequently. We haven't forgotten how to do those other things, and can often get back to a high level -- but only if we stop specializing and go back to doing more than one thing.
Essentially then, the opportunity cost of not specializing is the extra fish and bread, whereas the cost of specializing is the loss of flexibility and increase in dependence on one another.
[I hope that all made sense -- I was really trying to condense it. If not, sorry fellow fans. ]
Now lets apply those ideas to a football team. As to the opportunity cost -- there is only so much practice time, and time with position group -- so someone practicing returning kicks, isn't practicing with the other RB, for example. Someone practicing at DT is giving up time practicing as a DE.
Last season, and even now, I see many people ask why it "took them so long" to realize Woody would be a better tackle than Blaine Saipia (since my 3 year old can likely block better, the questions has some merit). He was practicing as a RG, and they had him taking snaps at C to back-up Raiola and since that is the position he played in NE. He was already practicing 2 positions -- when exactly were they supposed to be trying him at tackle? Not like it was camp -- the opportunity cost of trying him at tackle was him losing practice time at G and C -- also, he didn't play tackle since HS, so it wasn't exactly the first thought in their heads. The opportunity cost wasn't too bad trying him at T after they came up with the idea. I don't fault them for waiting too long -- I credit them for taking the risk and trying! After all, I'm sure the first thought in every fan's head when Foster got benched for Scott, and then Scott got injured was "Try Woody!" -- If you take the example above with DetFan the baker/fisher -- I can bake bread and catch fish -- does that mean I can suddenly make great fish sandwiches since it incorporates elements of both -- fish and bread? Ummm....nope. And I would have to give up something to try -- Woody was the same way -- Woody got beat out at RG (bread), Center (fish) so they figured what the heck -- lets try him making fish sandwiches (RT). It may be harder, but Saipia can only make 1 a day, so what have we got to lose?? That was a desperation attempt to find a new "specialist" from someone who had "positional flexibility."
Football Team starters need to primarily be composed of Specialists -- it allows each starting position to be honed in on what they do best, and perfecting their craft. That way, the lowest cost (time wasted practicing a position they don't play, time lost honing primary skill) is producing the highest benefit (more production from each position). That is 25 players --(22 starters on O and D, 1 K, 1 P, 1 LS). How about the other 28? Sure, they need to practice their primary positions, and rotational guys take up about a half dozen slots or so. That still leaves what Marinelli refers to as the "last ten guys on the roster being the most important".
[as I go through here, I will be rating players on a fictional scale of 1-10 for explanatory purposes]
Roster Size is the biggest limitation (other than the cap) an NFL team faces. So the opportunity cost of keeping a player is the loss of the next best player for that slot. The more things that a person in the last 15 spots on the roster can do well, the stronger the roster will be. For instance, lets say you have the final spot on the roster. While it would be nice to have an extra CB and S, you only have 1 spot. Someone who can play both at say, a 6 (out of ten) is of more value to the team then either a CB or S at a 7 -- you don't know which you will need. Where it gets more complicated for coaches is lets say that CB-7 is also a ST-10 versus CB-S-6 who is only a ST-7. Is the 3 points of ST play and one point of CB play worth not having access to an additional S at 6?
While we love to analyze and critique a teams' moves (in the draft, and regarding the roster) we can now see a glimpse how even in this cursory look the variables that need to be considered, and the gambles coaches have to take when putting their roster together can get out of control and pile up very very quickly.
What the Lions have lacked in the first part of the Millen era has been not just in the starters, but the "rest" of the roster -- a 9 goes out and is replaced by a 5. Ouch. Having quality depth is one of the most important, and hardest, things to do in the NFL. Guys that are too good aren't happy as back-ups, and cost too much against the cap. However, get too far down the scale, and next thing you know you have too big of a drop off from your starter to your next-in-line.
So...back to specialization. If the primary backup to, say, the SLB can also play WLB that is great. Or, if the SLB-9 can play MLB-7, then the team can carry a second SLB-8 and know that if the MLB-9 is injured, the SLB-9 can become a MLB-7 and they will end up with MLB-7 and SLB-8 versus MLB-9 and SLB-9 as usual. Only a 3 point total drop off with just one player. If the SLB can't play MLB, then you need to take up and extra roster spot with a player who is just a ML-7 to get the same quality on the field in the event of an injury. The Lions have been very bad at this in the past, but seem to be progressing the last couple of offseasons. They still have a long way to go.
This all entered my mind as a result of an email with JJLions in which we were discussing a "what-if" the Lions take Mayo in one, and Dizon falls to them in 4 and they take him as well. In the 3 player scenario you have Mayo as the MLB-9, Dizon as the SLB-9, MLB-7 and Lenon as the SLB-8, MLB-6. Here you only have to keep 3 LB, but have 2 backup MLB, and 2 starting level SLB. They start with Lenon at MLB, Mayo at SLB, and Dizon at SLB. Whoever ends up as the better MLB out of Dizon and Mayo ends up winning that job entering next season, but the other will likely still be able to play at a good level in the middle as well. This would allow the Lions to keep 3 LB where they had been keeping 4. That opens up a precious roster spot for another player.
Take Safety as another example -- Bullocks and Alexander will be the likely starters, with Smith as the backup. But they also have Pearson who can play S, Nickle back, and is a 10 in ST. Even if he ends up as the 4th safety, he has great value. Blue is primarily a run-stopping S, but again a great ST player. So if you save on a LB spot and backup Nickle Back spot due to Dizon and Pearson, there is room to keep a player like Blue, or a LB like Johnny Baldwin last year that they wanted to develop. The more roles that the lower-end players on the roster can fill, at as high a level as possible, is what separates a Detroit from a NE almost as much as the starters themselves. Due to substitutions, injuries, and the high importance of special teams, those players are vital to the health of an NFL franchise. Due to the limitations of the cap and the roster size, teams must make the most of each contract dollar and roster spot available. While they have excelled at screwing that up in the past, it seems with the last 2 off seasons, this off season especially, they are replacing the lower level people on the roster with higher quality players, and upgrading starters -- which leaves the guys they replaced as better backups, and the former back-ups unemployed. Its a start.
Special Teams is an area where I have seen the most improvement from the Lions this off season -- I think Marinelli knows he didn't place enough emphasis on the ability of his "last ten guys" to play ST last year, and that is why Kwan still has his job. When you look at the roster cuts when Marinelli arrived, and made before 07, an unintended side-effect was essentially gutting the ST units. This was because the guys who they had on ST, while they were good at ST, were pretty much mediocre to a man at their positions. So as Rod upgraded the starting players, he missed out on the ST aspect. It is an error I can see they corrected this off season as nearly every player they brought in for depth and competition are also excellent ST players.
Watching the games last year, the schemes (especially against Hester) were often good -- but the execution by the ST units was awful. If they are that bad next year, I think Kwan will be looking for work, but don't bet on it. Now that he has the ST contributors he needs, my gut says we see a big improvement next season.
you may have noticed I put LS as an essential position -- from an opportunity cost standpoint, the difference between a TE who snaps, or a dedicated long snapper may be missing on 1-700 versus 1-1000. But in the context of the NFL ask the 2006 Cowboys how much of an effect one bad long-snap (from a non-dedicated LS, BTW) can have if it comes at the wrong time. Better safe than sorry on that score.
What do you fellows think? I know there are more examples, and I'm sure there must be better ways to explain this, or nuances I missed. This is an involved and complex topic. Post away and we shall look into it further together!
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
70---DeGrate, Victor----------DE----6-3---294----23---1-------Oklahoma State
93---Smith, Corey------------DE---6-2---250----28----6-----North Carolina State
75---Cody, Shaun-------------DT---6-4---310----25----4----Southern California
NA--Darby, Chuck------------DT---6-0---297----32----8----South Carolina State
79---Moore, Langston--------DT----6-1---305----26---4--------South Carolina
No Lions link for Victor DeGrate on the depth chart, so I looked him up and linked to the old profile from Detroitlions.com. Two Words: Camp Fodder. Devries is solid, but I see him possibly losing out to younger players this year, depending on if they keep 8 or 9 linemen since I think they are going to keep 5 safeties, and what positions they draft on the line in what quantity.
If there were no draft, and we were looking at the Lions today, then we can look at the past 2 years' depth charts, and find that the Lions kept 5 DE's and 4 DT's on the roster. Right now, the starters would be White moving back to his natural position on the LE, versus RE where he played last season and where IAF will take over starting. Smith and Devries would rotate in on the RE and Harriott and DeGrate would fight for the 5th spot. the 4 DT's would be wysiwyg (What You See Is What You Get)-- Darby and Redding start, Moore and Cody rotate in. 5 words for you: "Thank Goodness for the Draft" - they need some competition, and some upgrades.
The Detroit Deuce rotates players in and out of the D fairly regualrly to try keep them fresh. This means you really need at least 3 starting caliber DT's and DE's -- with the 3rd DE able to play either side. Since they are rotating anyways, I think they could make better use of the rotation for more than just resting players.
Here is where I am going with this: The Lions look to be keeping 9 Dlinemen right now. If you are going to have 9, why not get more use out of all of those spots, be able to throw off opposing offenses, and yet still stay in your base 4-3. How, you may ask? Just take a look at what the Giants did to the three "best" offensive lines in the playoffs last season (Dallas, NE, and GB). What they did is draft players like Justin Tuck, who was traditionally a DE, but was big enough to rush from the inside on passing downs. That allowed them to keep their speed rushing ends, Umeinyora(sp) and Strahan in, while still getting a rush up the middle. As we know from our Oline analysis, this can really devestate an Oline if a guy is lining up at DT, and suddenly him and the DE switch spots -- or 4 DT's are on the field -- but the two "tweeners" still can get penetration into the pocket?
The Detroit Deuce ("copyrighted" by Nobsnubber from Mlive, btw -- I like it and think we can really get it into common vernacular over time if the Lions do as well as I think they are going to in the next few years). Of the current Personnel, I can see the following players being suited to this subtly profound change in how the Dline rotates and position groups are done if it is looked at as an 8-9 man versatile unit, versus a 4 man DT and 5 man DE rotation:
- Redding can stay at the UT or slide over to the RE.
- Darby is primarily a run stuffing DT at the NT position; needed for stopping the run
- White is a good technique/speed end, who really didn't get to show his full potential last year. He can be moved to either end, and still cause trouble for the opposing O.
- IAF is your classic Tweener who has recieved the bulk of his learning under Marinelli and Barry -- he is big enough to handle either DT spot, but can slide to either end as well. He is best suited to LE and the UT position, where he can pressure into the pocket.
- Smith is a good rotational DE who has his moments in pass rush, yet is stout against the outside run game.
- Moore showed some real flashes last season when given a shot as S. Rogers took himself out of the game all the time.
(I know Cody is missing, but I have a gut feeling he loses out in camp this year. Despite all the opportunities he was given last season, to me he disappeared every tiem he was on the field. I can't recall a single play he made that stood out to me. My opinion, may not be fact.)
If you will notice, that is 6 guys. Now yesterday, I advocated taking a run stuffing DT, a DE/DT or DE/LB "tweener", and/or a pure speed rusher in the draft - possibly all three. Now you can see why. Lets break it down further:
*Draft another run-stuffing DT -- what most people fail to realize is that two run-stuffing DT's on the field at the same time puts pressure on the QB and the opposing offense. For a perfect example, see the Williams' in the middle of Minnesota's Dline. Teams just can't run with any luck up the middle on Minn when they are both in the game. That means the Ends and LB's can focus on the edge rushes, short passes, and screens. If a team is trying to slide to the edges to avoid the hulking mass of flesh in the middle, then they become limited in what they can do -- which allows the defense to focus on just those areas versus the entire field. What also happens is that with the focus on the sidelines, the DT's in the middle are better able to preesure into and collapse the pocket. Coupled with the fact that Darby only has 2-3 productive years left, and you can see the need to get a young run stuffer in now so there is not only no drop off, but actually an upgrade when Darby is gone/moves to more of a backup role.
*Draft either a DT/DE or DE/LB Tweener -- since IAF is already a DT/DE Tweener, I would say go for the DE/LB type -- for example, a Shawn Merriman style player -- an example this year is Crable. Two purposes here -- you solidify the OLB position, and allow for more effective bltizes from the LB/DE postion -- even in the 4-3 formation. They can come from the SLB position, or fake a blitz to get the opposing O to pull it down -- faking a blitz is much more effective when the other teams know you can actually do it. Philly's whole defense is built around that concept. You can also have a more effective rusher when dropping a DE into coverage and bringing the LB into the line. As an added bonus, the 9th Dline player is also the 7th LB -- freeing up a roster spot.
*Draft a rush specialist -- Michael Strahan is a master sack artist -- but he's not the strongest against the run, which is why NYG usually gave him LB help against the run on his side. But what he did/does - he did/does well -- get to the QB. Left or Right, In or Out -- he can bring it to the blocker, and bring it to the QB. Even when not sacking the QB he is hurrying him, hitting him as he throws, and shoving his hands into the passing lines as he descends. A complete package at end -- such as White who is above average to good at all aspects of the DE position - is difficult. However, when you have one mission only: Hit-Q-B you better be very good at it. I don't think you need to have a first round talent to do it -- and since primarily used situationally (passing downs, obvious passing downs) -- the time on field can be hard to justify - but the effect on the rest of the defense is not. Even taking up extra blockers and getting nowhere can free up the other end and the DT's to get pressure. Nailing the RB behind the line is just icing on the cake. I'm not sure if IAF is this kind of guy, or more of the tweener pressure/run-stopper guy. So draft a situational rusher.
Picture this: First down, RunStuffer and Darby are in the middle, and IAF nails the RB for a loss as he takes a misdirection move to the outside. 2nd down pass middle hurried by the Dline penetration of SpeedRusher/Redding/IAF/White, and knocked away or intercepted by the Detroit Deuce opportunistic secondary. Now facing 3rd and long, they are in an obvious passing situation again. In comes SpeedRusher/White/Redding/IAF and LB-DE bltizes as the MLB covers the middle and the NB and the Lions' corners and safeties blanket the 4 wide set. Again unable to handle the pressure of the extra rush specialists, the Qb is hurried and/or sacked.
That is just a couple of options. Picture how off-balance the Lions could make a team if they needed/wanted to. Sure, most of the time they would rotate the position groups normally -- but the versatility and unpredictability of the Dline would indeed make it the force that drives the franchise. Both the RunStuffer DT and the LB/DE tweener could be had in rounds 3-4. the SpeedRusher is the hardest to peg, and the biggest trick when choosing high. That is why Harvey is a risky pick at 15 -- will he be SpeedRusher, or will the Lions once again Need-Rusher?
Trading back and taking the MLB later in 1, getting a DT or OT in 2, and getting the RB and DT or OT (if value - whichever you didn't get) in 3 and the Tweener and DT in 4 and 5 (if OT taken earlier) is so important. The key is that with the type of players they would be/are? looking for, there is an absurdly high number of different ways they can fill those needs in this draft where their picks are located, it gives us insight as to how hard it is for teams to prepare for the draft.
But they need those 3 Dline positions (1 LB crossover), and an ILB to not only strengthen the defense, but take it to a whole new level.
12 more days and it will finally be time to start analyzing "What Is" instead of "What If."
agree, disagree, have your own ideas on how you would mold the Detroit Deuce in your image? Take the time to post it below!
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
First off, I posted my Dallas mock today, and despite all of the news of the day, would like to delve into some draft issues a little more. (Mainly because I've only skimmed the main stories today, and haven't really looked into them.)
As I've been looking at Mock Drafts, etc. develop, and looking over the various need areas of the Lions, I settled on the D-Line last night. I was looking back at the mock-draft predictions and analysis from earlier, and have decided to waffle again -- in a way. No matter who is picked ahead of the Lions, looking at team needs below the Lions, there is going to be at least one willing trade partner down in the 20's no matter who falls to the Lions looking to move up and grab the last top-tier guy at a position of need.
Most notable is CB -- If DRC or Mike Jenkins fall to the Lions (likely if all the other players they would take vs trade are gone -- there's only 15 picks up there people...), Dallas (unless they trade for Pacman - LOL!!), Tampa, Pittsburgh, and others are looking to get one of the top 3 cover guys who don't smoke the wacky tobaccy. Despite the defections, there are still good ties between Detroit and Tampa, and they could set-up an amicable trade.
Another scenario is if Rivers falls to the Lions -- at that point we could be looking at the Jax trade scenario that we discussed earlier.
Another interesting Dallas point was recently brought up by Steamroller78 (our Dallas Pal) -- is Akin Ayodele. Not sure if he is a good fit for Det as he was an OLB in the 3-4 in Jax, and then 3-4 ILb in Dallas. He is a solid player, only made trade bait after they signed Zach Thomas to their already crowded LB position. Question: What value to you think he may have with the Lions, and would be possibly be included in a draft day trade in lieu of a pick, or say for #28 and #61, and Ayodele for #15 and Lions' 4th rounder? (presumably for DRC, Stewart, and Mendenhall?)
I've also seen rumor that Dallas wants a CB and another top flight WR first and foremost -- I've seen some sentiment that they can pick up a 5th round back to complement MJD. With those thoughts in mind, this question was posed: Would you as the Lions GM trade Roy W. and #15 for Dallas #22, #28, #61, #92, #126 (all of their 1-4 for Roy W. and #15?) -- I would probably say yes, but want Ayodele as well. What do you fellows think?
No matter who the trade partner, as the most recent poll is showing, if Mendenhall, Rivers, Williams and Harvey are gone at 15 -- a real possibility -- the consensus is to trade down into the late teens, early 20's. If they do this, I am convinced again after looking at LB and the DLine situation (which I will outline tomorrow my conclusions there) that they need to get either Balmer in 1, or a Big Run Stuffing DT in 2 -- at use the 2nd 3rd or a 4th for a DT/DE Tweener. Why you wonder? Tune in tomorrow, I'm afraid. I'd like to hear your thoughts and ideas on the questions above regarding trades, and the Dline in particular -- taking into account the entire Dline, and who is on the Roster -- set aside the preconceived thoughts by Killer and others and tell me what YOU would do with the Lions' Dline, and what pieces you think need to be added, and why. I gave you the pieces I would add, and will give you the why tomorrow.
I have it mostly written, just need to polish it off -- but also need to sleep. I will be back tomorrow. Exciting times everyone!! Go Lions!!
Monday, April 14, 2008
I've also got more ideas on the draft as it is approaching, and will be sharing those as well. So much to write about, so little time to write it!
Will try to post tomorrow evening, but definately Thursday! Go Lions!
Sunday, April 13, 2008
So I started doing some thinking on the matter. I once did a review of Millen's 7 year tenure, but Killer confined his look to the past two years, so I decided to do the same. Since I've already reviewed the prior two drafts as much as one can right now (Article #1 and #2), and I'm feeling a touch argumentative today, I decided give my opinion on how GB was not at all like Detroit two years ago.
First off, lets start with the Packers in general. Although Killer makes the assumption that due to record the two franchises were at the same point is a fallacy -- the Packers had consistency of offense, a hall-of-fame QB, and many talented veterans. Sherman had a couple years of lousy drafts, but before that they drafted quite well. So they had about 3-4 years of a mediocre drafting to get over. Oooh. They also got a new GM at the time. Did I mention yet that until all of those "quantity" of draft picks began developing finally last season (we have yet to see much of Aaron Rodgers, and he was drafted when? 05?) Thompson was being blasted by Fans, Media, and even players, for not doing enough to bring in talent before Farve retired.
Aaron Rodgers now gets to play "franchise savior" now that Farve is gone...after spending three low-pressure years learning the Pro-game from a hall-of-fame QB. And the Lions had...umm... yeah, name me a guy the Lions had around when Marinelli took over to mentor the younger players??
If you look at the Bobby Ross years, the Lions drafted as poorly then as they have under Millen. This is not a new phenomenon -- the Lions had been drafting poorly for three times as long as the Packers when the dual-coaching change took place. Also, they still were mediocre during most of that frame, and thus didn't have multiple top-ten busts hitting the cap, and the roster.
The Packers Offense was always rolling well -- the defense and the Oline needed some work when McCarthy and Thompson came in, but both still had a solid base -- a far cry from the Lions needing Dline, CB, S, LB, QB, and Oline when Marinelli came in. Gee, I wonder why Marinelli has had some trouble?
Besides Farve, GB already had aging veterans who knew the system on the roster who could mentor the younger guys and help them develop. Thus, it makes a lot of sense to trade down, get lots of picks, and let guys compete and learn while the Vets are still there to start. They could stand pat in FA and the draft because they at least had a foundation. Marinelli didn't have the luxury in Detroit. He had to bring in FA to get the veterans because of prior screw-ups that essentially let the best of the Detroit veterans go. (Which wasn't much, sadly.)
I could go on and on about the GB comparison (I used to live in the UP of Michigan, in Marquette, which is more like an extension of northern Wisconsin.), but I think you see my point. The only thing they really had in common was a bad record and a coaching change in the same year (coaching changes usually following bad records indicates they are both sides of the same coin.)
Detroit two years ago (and longer) was like a house that has "burned down" -- if you have seen a house after someone torches it, you will realize it is not "gone" -- cleaning it up properly and salvaging what you can literally often takes just as long as rebuilding the house itself. You need to salvage what you can, clear out the debris, check and re-build the foundation, and then you can go about putting up a new home. It isn't easy, and it takes time.
When restoration companies come in after a fire, they take those items that are possibly salvageable and there are specialist companies that clean them. If they can't get it back to new, then you get new. Kalimba in particular strikes me as that type of deal -- Rod was looking for salvage, couldn't afford to dump everyone at the same time, and hoped he could clean him up -- Kalimba has the physical tools, and even motivation -- but come game day, he just can't seem to put it all together. I don't like the size of the contract he got, although it really isn't but a pittance compared to what even moderate DE's get now. So right now there are 13 players from when he started -- that is all the "foundation bricks" he had left! Now he has a pretty young team, with a good mix of veterans to teach. He had to build it, but seems to be on the right track with the process. He had to get the debris out of the way before he could start building the foundation. As far as I can see, the Lions are getting close to where the Packers were two years ago -- they have good vets teaching up and coming players; they are drafting to upgrade over average starters, with no "must pick" position locking them in; they have a veteran QB starting while a young signal caller(s) [Stanton, and to a lesser extent Orlovsky] are learning in the wings. Now, they need a couple of years for the young guys they already picked to really begin to blossom, and to keep building depth and upgrading units.
I disagree strongly with the assertion that trading up has "always" hurt the Lions. KJ ended up not being able to stay healthy, but was very productive when utilized correctly and on the field. He just spent too much time banged up. Cody has been a disappointment, but may blossom this year. If not, he has still been a serviceable rotation guy. S. Rogers has to be called a success -- they traded a 2 and 4 to move up in the 2 to get him -- he played for the Lions what, 6 seasons? and was a pro-bowl level DT for at least half those plays. Then, the Lions traded him for a 3rd rounder AND a young starting CB. Lets not forget where the Lions would be if they had not traded Rogers. They would be looking at taking best CB available at 15, or in the early rounds...and they would have immediate needs at LB, DE,OT, CB and RB and only 3 picks in first three rounds to fill them. Now, they have 3 major needs, 4 picks to use to fill them, and will be able to get an additional DT late 3rd, or most likely 4th or 5th. Trading up, in the long run, worked out quite well with Rogers.
Stanton, IAF and Alexander are too early to tell, although a 16 game rookie starter who kept getting better as the season out of moving up into the second for a 3 and 5 isn't too bad in my book, that's for sure! Davis was all on the scouting dept by the time you get to that point in the draft; they just didn't get what a T2 corner was. I'm sure hope they do now, from the sounds of the effort Marinelli and his staff put into educating them this off season!
don't get me wrong, I think that there is a time for each strategy. Sometimes just staying put makes you miss out a player you really wanted that someone else is willing to go get. But so far, in the case of Detroit's moves up, I don't really see where the issue is for the most part. If you look proportionately, the scouting department really just wasn't doing the proper evaluation on the late rounders. Lets hope that has changed, or the Lions could have 25 late round picks and not come up with any starters.
Tomorrow I will look at my overall drafting philosophies as we are looking at getting closer to the draft, including advantages/disatvantages of trading up and down, when it is and isn't feasible, and what tactics I think apply to the Lions.
Hope everyone had a great weekend!