Okay, reading back over my post form yesterday it seems from my writing that 4 players and the 3-4 is set as a star studded D ready to contend for the title.
Okay, I guess in trying to look at who to "keep" in that alignment, I was too positive in my descriptions. My intent was to point out in that article (and one tomorrow) how using 4 of the 5 picks on defense in different ways would give the Lions at least the basics of a defense in either base formation.
In other words, the bare bones foundation to be built upon. To put it bluntly: they can't shit can everyone because there aren't enough people out there who are better to replace them with that are available - right now.
I see the plan outlined as one way they could lean, in regards to positions to fill just to make the defensive formation (in yesterday's and today's case, the 3-4) work.
Since this is a Blog, I'm assuming everyone has some kind of access to a computer. If you look at the side of the box for any computer program there is a little small print section that says "minimum requirements." Sure, technically speaking you can run the program if you have the minimum requirements. But in reality it works like crap if it really "works" at all. Then there is that "recommended requirements" where it actually works like it is supposed to - most of the time. I usually figure you need at least the recommended, and probably more than that if you really want a program to run smoothly. What I outlined yesterday for the 3-4, and will outline tomorrow for the 4-3, is the "minimum requirements".
With that in mind, lets look a little further forward at what it would take to go from "minimum requirements" to "recommended requirements".
LB: A line of Sims-Draft Pick-Dizon-Avril would be the bare bones, and not that great with no depth. In all honesty, Sims may work in a 3-4 -- but he would need to get back to rookie year versus the last two. His discipline has been way off, and he needs to stop over-pursuing on the run and get back to the fundamental tackling that made him stand out his rookie year. Even then, he is more the size of an ILB in the 3-4 but lacks the coverage skills. If he can't adjust, he would end up being a stop-gap.
I disagree with the comment that Avril didn't prove anything as a pass rusher. After reading that I sped through a couple of tapes again, and all he showed me is that he is one heck of a pass rusher coming off the edge. His speed and quick moves would serve him well in that capacity in the 3-4 as you need to have at least one pass-rushing OLB (think: Shawn Merriman of the Chargers). I'm not an expert, but my gut says used correctly in a 3-4 alignment he would be a pro-bowl OLB. That still leaves the unknown Dizon and "Draft Pick LB" in the middle. Realistically, at least 3 -4 more draft picks minimum would need to go into LB -- with one from rounds 1-3 -- for the next two or three years to get the LB corps up to "recommended".
Dline: As I said, a NT is a must in this draft to get to minimum. Redding is a prototypical 3-4 DE and should be very solid at one end. The rest are more tenuous and unknown. Fluellen doesn't seem to be quick enough for a 3-4 DE, nor is he big enough for the NT spot and I think he'd end up replaced sooner rather than later. Cohen has the right stuff from what I saw to be a backup NT, and possibly rotate in at DE in the 3-4 -- however, it would likely be making use of what you have until you can draft something better. IAF has yet to show what he can do, although just like Redding his size/skills seem to better fit a 3-4 DE where the Dline takes on the front blockers freeing up the OLB to rush in off the edges while the 2 ILB cover the short passing routes. Most likely, even if the Lions take a NT in 09, they would still need to spend a lower round pick next year (or FA, or UDFA) on a backup NT -- as well as draft at least one more DE. I didn't bring up White again, as he would work in the short term but is not at all a 3-4 DE or LB and would not fit into the new scheme. So just like with LB, you would need 3-4 more picks on the Dline over the next 3 years to get that established with solid starters and depth in the rotation.
Secondary: This situation still isn't as bad as the rest. While I grudgingly agree Fisher is currently the only Nickel-back on the roster, I think that they shouldn't keep him around after his contract is up in 09. Bodden is better in man coverage --- and while everyone is griping about his 8 mil roster bonus in 2009 -- remember this: he is at worst an above average cover corner and will have very low cap numbers and salary for the 10,11,12,13 seasons. When you look at total compensation over the course of the contract if they can get at least 10-12 out of him as a starter on one side then it is great value. Keith Smith is a marginal starter hovering around great backup status. That is why I listed drafting a CB as need both early and late, and think the Lions would at least need to keep taking late round fliers on cover corners for the foreseeable future to ensure having enough healthy CB's. If they go 3rd round CB in 09, then a 1st or 2nd round CB would be needed still in 10 or 11 at least in addition to the late round fliers.
At safety, I liked what I saw out of a healthy Alexander and Bullocks when the coaches actually put them on the field together. That being said, if they go to a 3-4 they still need a 4th safety who is more of a SS safety rather than FS. Alexander and Bullocks are similar style players, and a complement is needed. I don't think going S in 09 is good until you see how Bullocks and Alexander work out in the 3-4, and if they can stay healthy. A rd 1-3 S in 10 would definitely have to be a consideration.
Summary: What this all means is that even if the Lions hit it great on their early picks, and one or two of the late round picks and go almost all defense -- they have about 3 solid heavy defense drafts in front of them before they will really have the upgrades they need to be a playoff defense.
No Lions fan wants to hear this, but this roster is so devoid of starting level talent that it will take at least 3 drafts to get a team with a high caliber defense, and a decent offense. Period. 2 might get you started if they hit on a high percentage of picks, but even the best GM's get 2-3 starters per draft from all rounds combined, on average. And the Lions really need upgrades to at least 8 of their starting defensive spots. When you do the math, you can see it will be a long road to respectability even under the best of management.
I am cautiously optimistic at this point, but still will hold out on anything other than "If" type analysis (just like last year) til the season. The Lions did a big Whiff on my IF last ifseason. Lets hope they do better in 2009!!
Your thoughts??? (keep em coming!)