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!