As the lockdown on information coming out of Allen Park has hit Cold-War Russia Level, I figured this is as good a time as any to begin looking at the past draft evaluation, and the current state of the roster following the end to most major FA signings. While more on evaluating the draft (including a review of my draft evaluation guidelines) will follow this week, the best place to start is to look at where the team is right now.
The players from the 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006 drafts should be forming the core of the veteran and great young players coming into their own on any team’s roster.
For the Lions… not so much. As per NFL.com’s draft history, and a peek at the Lion’s roster, here is the current players on the Detroit Lions right now, in order of year drafted, with round in (#). Warning: Cover the eyes of young Lions Fans. Mayhew’s starting point after the Millen Era is not pretty. Only 22 Players currently on the roster – only 20 of whom were drafted this decade.
2008-Cherilus(1), Dizon(2), Smith(3), Fluellen(3), Avril(3), Felton(5), Cohen (7)
2007-CJ (1), Stanton (2), IAF (2), Alexander (2), Ramirez (4), Robinson (7)
2006-Sims (1), Bullocks(2), Calhoun(3),
2001-Backus (1), Raiola(2)
Things worth noting:
1. 2002,2003 and 2005 – supposedly prime years for the current core of the Lions’ roster have ZERO players still with the Lions.
2. While there are currently 3 players from the 2006 draft on the roster, Calhoun will likely not make it out of camp (if he even makes it there).
3. The 13 players remaining from 2007 and 2008 speak more to the lack of depth on the Lions roster, than it does to the talent of the players.
4. Of the 2004 players – Keith Smith and Alex Lewis, Smith is in a make or break year, and Lewis won’t be more than a backup at best (if he makes the roster) with Peterson on board. Unless Keith Smith shows great improvement, and depending who the Lions draft in 2009, could be Zero players from 2004 on the roster as well – making 2002 – 2005 total goose-eggs instead of the core of the team.
This is really why I have said repeatedly that even if Mayhew/Lewand draft great, and Schwartz is half as good as we hope, it will be about 3 years or so before the Lions have any real type of core talent base in place. As it looks right now, depending on how Cohen and Fluellen turn, the 2008 draft – Millen’s last – could very well turn out to be his best by far. The 2001 draft currently stands as Millen’s “best” – with 2 long term starters in Raiola and Backus.
Sobering food for thought when looking at the task that the new Lions management is facing. Is it any wonder “BPA” who will contribute for the long term is the mantra coming out of Allen Park? It isn’t smoke but fact the Lions could truly draft that way this year and improve with each and every pick all the way down into their 7th round compensatory pick.
The talent cupboard isn’t just bare in Detroit – it’s been stripped out of the foreclosed franchise. Now the Lions have salvaged what building blocks they could (Cherilus, K. Smith, CJ, Bullocks, Sims, Hanson, et al) and razed the rest of the house. It’s not a re-building job – that would imply something was built in the first place and needs to be fixed. Looking at this chart you can see it is essentially new construction. Building the franchise will take time, but will it be done right this time?
So far, so good… but only time will tell. It’s way too early to judge at this point.