[I have been sick the last few days, so in my continued absence, please enjoy this guest blog by JJLions20]
With all the articles, especially about how the Lions roster will be made up, I came to the conclusion that this problem was caused by the fact that it looks like the Lions had a good draft, which is what we all wanted. Therefore, the title:
Watch What You Ask For You Just Might Get It … The Lions Are Living With The Problem Of A Good Draft
Most of us know that it takes 2-3 years to evaluate a draft, but in the first year of a good draft it can cause a problem with the roster. As DetFan1979 documented last spring, the only way to evaluate the draft at this point of time is based upon what the analysis said at the time of the draft. That’s not very much help in deciding who to put on the 53 man roster.
The problem is that typically any pick other than a 1st round pick is not expected to be a starter in the first week of the season. So a good draft with a number of players who demonstrate in camp and preseason that they have what it takes to be a good player in 2-3 years, will eat away at spots on your 53 man roster that can contribute early in the season. The Giants had this problem last year. They kept a lot of rookies, and struggled through the first part of the season.
The Lions have 7 players that they may need to keep on the roster, or lose them as they likely won’t clear waivers and be put on the practice squad. Cherilus, Dizon, Smith, Avril, Fluellen, Felton & Cohen. They’re actually lucky they don’t have an 8th with Campbell to deal with. Moore looks to be destined for the practice squad.
They need to give these guys a full season and a second preseason to truly evaluate these guys.It is very possible that in week-1 Smith may be the only starter, maybe Cherilus, maybe Dizon, but maybe none of the three. So, with a 53 man roster, and 22 being starters, a kicker, a punter, a long snapper and a #3 QB. That leaves 27 reserves, with rookies taking up 7 of those spots. That only leaves 20 spots for veterans with NFL experience. What compounds all of this is you need to have a #2 QB, and D-Line may be the most important position group on a team, and in particular in a cover-2 defense. So if the Lions keep the three rookie D-Lineman and go with 10 D-Lineman, that leaves them with 12 positions excluding QB and D-line that can be filled with NFL experienced players.
Marinelli knows he is still in the process of overhauling this roster. He knows that in the long run the best thing is for the Lions is to acquire as much young talent as possible. The problem is how do you retain young talent that may not be ready quite yet, and still win games in 2008. The starters are not the problem. The problem is with the reserves and special teams. There becomes a real numbers game with the roster, and anybody competing for one of those 12 spots has to contribute on special teams. It may mean cutting a veteran who would be a better contributor in the depth chart, but does not contribute on special teams.
That’s why the Lions have a numbers game at just about every position group.We all wanted the good draft, but now we have to live with the problem it creates. If we keep 7 rookies, we’re going to have to cut somebody that would be able to help us if a starter goes down. Of course, getting contributions out of these 7 rookies at some point in 2008 would help. But we can’t count on that. Just ask yourself how many contributions did the Lions get from rookies in 2007?
CJ and Alexander (forced into action due to Bullocks injury), not much else. How many contributions did the Lions get from rookies in 2006? Other than Ernie, not much. Marinelli knows he realistically can’t count on too much from the rookies. He can hope that they step up and develop quickly, but it is unusual. If there are injuries early in the season, some of these guys may be forced to play. Hopefully the results are the same as with Alexander.
[Great insight! I think we may be surprised what some of those rookies, like Alexander, will be able to do if called upon. The "easier" first half schedule, coupled with a harder second half, will also be more conducive to the rooks getting a chance to develop. Time for DF79 to go back to bed!]