Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Build Through The Draft?

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 teams roster. 

For the Lions not so much.  As per NFL.coms draft history, and a peek at the Lions 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.  Mayhews 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),


2004-Lewis(5), Smith(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 wont 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 Millens last could very well turn out to be his best by far.  The 2001 draft currently stands as Millens 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 isnt 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 isnt just bare in Detroit its 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.  Its 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.   Its way too early to judge at this point.


JJLions20 said...

Wow, a pretty bleak report from a pretty upbeat fan. It is a little difficult looking for a silver lining but here I go....

Building any team in any sport usually dictates building up the middle. If that is the case the Lions are not in too bad of shape. There is a good chance that the Lions will get a MLB and QB in the first two picks. Either Curry and (Sanchez/Freemen), or Stafford and (Maualuga/Laurinaitis). When you combine that with Riola at Center. Bullocks/Alexander at safties, and Smith at Tailback. It gives some strength up the middle.

What the Lions have to do is build up the middle and in the trenches as much as possible. I saw one Mock Draft where Laurinaitis went early in the 2nd round. So I would not have a problem going QB, DL, MLB in the first 3 picks.

The critical part of the draft for the Lions are those 3rd round picks. They have the first pick of the 3rd day. It's like having the #1 pick again. They can let all the adrenalin drain out, evaluate those still on the board, and get the pick right. I'm ok with using one of the 6th rounders to move up from the 18th pick in the 3rd round to get a targeted player. With no 4th or 5th rounder the draft is basically over. Maybe find a special teamer or a possession reciever. Sometimes (some teams) find a diamond in the rough who becomes a starter. But I'm not holding my breath on that one.

jreffy said...


Denver's owner has announced that because all attempts to reach Jay Cutler have failed, they are now looking to accommodate Cutler's request to be traded.

Hopefully Detroit can offer them up something they'll want to bite at.

CHIEFGER139 said...

i GUESS stafford aced his workout, and with cutler up for a trade good chance we either get stafford or cutler-either way sounds like we may finaly have a good qb to build on here in detroit-I know i wanted curry earlier but am warming up to a qb now. Once we have one we can build from there the way i see it and the good news for me is, if dont get either qb and do get curry or a offensive tackle, I will be pleased with that move too.

RIP said...

This past is the past. What the Leos have done in the previous regime under Millen is history. The previous two coaches were not happy with the rosters they took over. Anyone remember Mooch stating that our roster had alot of young guys and old guys, but little for guys going after thier second contracts?

With the staff we have now brings hope and a new direction. Many of the new guys are proven winners at some points in thier careers.

Lets start with management.

Lewand never wrote a contract without someone over him to get it done. He also did the many contracts so the budget of the salary cap worked. Good man to have to try a build long successful organization.

Meyhew has worked hard for many a years to get where he is now. The last 8 years may have been the easiest as far as hours in the day. But I do not believe he was sitting idle while just learning the job. What he has done this ifseason so far makes me believe he was doing his homework for sometime while using the Leos as his model to work with. So far it seems that he prepared himself well.

James "Shack" Harris. Was part of two staffs that built two big and phisical football teams in Baltimore and Jacksonville. I do not know how much say he had in those organizations. But do know that he has many a years experience doing what he is doing now.

Jim Schwartz. If he was our coach last year, I believe we would have won at least 3 more games. If he was our D Coordinator two years ago, we would have made the playoffs. I like his pedigree for becoming a first time coach. I also like the fact that he wants to manage the coach, and let the coaches manage the assistants and coach the players.

The coordinators have varing experiences and successes. And all three should be here for at least the next three years, hoping for eight.

Cunningham has run many types of schemes over his many years of coaching. Some were his own, while others were from his head coach. He loves using an aggressive style defense. But his first year or two here may not be as much as he would like. He needs the personnel to be able to run his style of defense. If he feels he has the personnel, do not expect to much of the "bend-but-don't break" defenses from the Wayne Fontes, or Tampa-2, eras.

Linehan has had great success as an Offensive Coodinator in the NFL. He will use the running game, TEs, and various passing games to get the ball down the field. Again, he seems to set up the offense to succeed depending on personnel. It does seem like he does not need a great QB to get the job done.

Stan Kwan learned from one of the best in Chuck Phiefer for a number of years. Unfortunately, he has been the ST Coordinator for only one Head Coach. He was not given much personnel after the kickers and long snapper. I do believe he will be average at worst when given the chance and personnel.

The theme here is all three coorinators are good, but they need the personnel to make it work. Teams need at least two of the units to be above average to be .500. I believe that we have taken the first steps toward respectablility and more with Lewand having final say on contracts, Meyhew being the motivated first time GM, and having a right hand man in "Shack" with the experienced scouting staff. I see good things going forward, and with luck the Super Bowl, since Millen was fired.

DetFan1979 said...

Great Points RIP -- this wasn't meant as a judgement or dwelling on the past --

Actually, I posted it to give a look at where the Lions are right now. This is teh point at which Mayhew and Lewand are taking over.

That the Lions had the cap space they did this ifseason is a testament to Lewand's contract writing abilities -- and I am looking forward to what he'll be ablet o do when not giving Kalimba-quality players huge extensions.

I have a positive feeling about the direction of the franchise as well, but this look back at where they are starting is for me a cautionary tale --

Don't expect too much too soon. The Lions are almost starting off at expansion team levels of talent, so no matter how good Mayhew, Schwartz, Harris and Lewand do --- it will take time.

4 or 5 wins next season would be huge progress. They should be able to come in around 7-9 to 9-7 if they are lucky in year two, and if they keep doing as well as they have been seeming to so far, playoffs should be a real possiblity in year 3 -- and a goal/expectation by year 4.

That is how I feel the timeline will run assuming everyone from front office to coach does as well as my gut tells me they are going to. Anything better is a huge bonus, but it could take a little longer.

I tend to be an optimist -- but this look tells me that based on where they are starting it is going to be a minute.

BTW RIP - great snippets on the coaching/front office staff. Especially agree, as I've said before, that kwan is average at WORST. He did great things with essentially no help from a coach in Marinelli that placed little real emphasis or importance on supporting special teams until it was too late (middle of last season)

While the starting point from a draft standpoint is bleak, there are many many honolulu blue and silver linings.

RIP said...

Thank you Josh,

I like sitting on top of the fence and looking at both sides. The grass maybe greener on one side, but what does the soil and roots look like. Is the greener grass going to stay that way, or does it become high maintenance. I believe the Leos has good ground to work with now. It is the right time to plant and grow our new roster. With proper neutrition, we too can become the Patriots and Steelers of the NFL.