Friday, March 6, 2009

O-line 'em Up Boys...

With Daniel Loper signed -- he can play both OG spots, and both OT spots in a pinch -- the Lions have now signed 3 offensive linemen to fill their 2 OG spots. Tenesse wanted him back, so there must be something there.

I don't think they are done yet. Let me amend -- I don't foresee any more O-Line signings in FA, but I do foresee at least one O-line pick in the draft. Position and when? Ummm...that, I am not sure of yet. But let me explain why I think this is, and the two directions I can see the Lions going in...

First off, lets establish a couple of things. Matt Birk was signed almost as soon as he hit FA and the Vikings stalled in talks. This is good for the Lions -- he is a great center. Jeff Saturday, despite aging a little, was re-signed as a priority impending FA in Indy. Good starting Centers in the NFL are hard to find, and despite some fan feelings Dom is a good NFL center. Are there better? Yes. Are there worse? LOTS.

Gosder is a solid RT. Management believes, as do I, that Backus is at least adequate at LT with a good LG next to him. That "adequate" does leave him a bit open, but on a team where there are still spots that are "no player on roster" adequate can do for now.

In my mind, then, the Lions heading into FA were totally set at C and RT. There was also no way they were spending on a Backus-level talent in FA, so LT was also set for the draft. Other than the 3 starters, the only real OG on the roster is the untested M. Ramierez. No backup C, and no backup OT either. I didn't see them spending out for Brown or Birk, so no C in FA. That leaves OG/OT players.

First off, the sign Peterman who did okay in the all zone scheme, but should be well suited to more of a power game. He and Gosder were starting to work up some real chemistry along the right side of that line, including with Dom and K. Smith. Runs to the right went well with that 4-some, so I am good they brought Peterman back. At least he is a starting caliber RG in the NFL. They could have done much worse.

The next two signings -- Cook and Loper -- are to compete at this point to start at LG with an edge to Loper at this point, as the only thing keeping him on the bench in Tenn was their dominant starting Oline and a lack of injuries. The Titans really wanted him back, but he came to Detroit on a one-year "I'll prove it to you" deal rather than go to one of the other teams courting him, a couple of which were said to be offering up longer term contracts. Cook is more of a swing player -- a backup you can plug in at a position of need for a couple of games and be okay, but whom you don't want starting long term. He was signed as such -- to be a backup.

At this point, then, your opening day starters would likely go L-R:

Cook: backs up Cherilus at RT, Cherilus is primary LT backup. An injury to Cherilus or Backus would put Cook in at RT, or Loper to RT and Cook in at LG.
ManRam: Backup OG at this point, depending on how well he competes in camp.

But I said they would do one of two things, and both involve drafting a lineman, didn't I? I don't think the heavy signings of OG who have multiple position flexibility poses a good sign for ManRam. Peterman impressed enough to get a new deal. Ramierez may be history. So I see the Lions taking either a LT early, or an OG/C at the top of 2 or in 3, depending on who is available where.

If they go LT at one, then Backus and the rook will be in the LG/LT competition with high stakes for Backus to win out at LG. That will likely bump one of the backups -- Cook or Ramirez, off the roster.

Personally, I think the signings point in a different direction than LT at #1, or even #20 unless a guy like Oher somehow falls. I see them taking a great prospect at #33, or with #65 who can play OG/C. This would mean they have their primary backup for an important position playing on the line - C. I see it breaking out as follows:

Backus -- OG-C Pick/Loper/Peterman -- Raiola -- Peterman/Loper -- Cherilus
Cook and the Peterman/Loper/Draft Pick loser as backup. This is why I'm leaning more to a combo guy in the top of the third if one is still available since they may not win out a starting job. A 2nd round pick means Loper and Peterman will be fighting for starter/backup and ManRam will be fighting for a job. Either way, Cook stays on as the backup OT/G who is likely inactive most game days.

This also takes you to what I am thinking about the top of the draft: It's Stafford or Curry. Which is the bigger gamble? More knowledgeable football minds than mine will be making that call, and I'm glad it's not me.


Pacer said...

Fan 1979-caught your post on M-live an hour ago and came to investigate-would be nice if more m-livers dropped by here to blog when the articles get a little thin there. Also, would probably be people who actually like and know football although a lot of the m-livers are pretty good posters.

I like the layout of the site particularly with the article on the left if you want to comment on it.

A couple of comments-Backus is not as bad as fans make him out to be. He is considered to be, by NFL commentators, somewhere in the middle of the pack. It never ceases to amaze me that bloggers were bitching that the Lions didn't sign the guard from Buffalo the other day when he had 8.5 sacks against last year and he is a guard. Backus had 8.5 against as well in 08 as a left tackle on the worst team in the league.

I love Jason Smith from Baylor but with the O line signings he won't be the pick-Stafford or Curry-agree with you.

Nice site-good luck with it.

DetFan1979 said...

Feel free to stop by anytime -- and dig into the archive. Actually passed the one-year anniversary a week or so back. Intelligent, thoughtful Lions talk.

Hope to see you contributing to the conversation regularly!

Pacer said...

Fan-will do-what you need to do is tell m-livers that Pit and Mav are on here and the rush will begin-maybe not such a good idea, although I disagree with them on Stafford they are fun posters. Would be nice to have posters on a site not necessarily related to the "current article". Been a fan since November 25, 1971 so I don't have a lot of patience with some of the posters on that site.

Dreamer1955 said...

I read your blog daily, don't post much becouse a lot of your regs are better at putting thoughts into words better than I do....LOL

I know this is off topic, but what scheme do you see the Lions running on D this year?

I know Gunther has said that it Will probabley be the 4-3, with a few 3-4 sets put in as change up. My therey is that with all the "tweeners" on the roster,that they (Gunther and Schwartz) invent a hybred D that can play 4-3 or 3-4 with the same personal. I think Curry would be perfect for this, he can play OLB and MLB, Avril can play DE and OLB, Flu can play DT and DE I think Cohen can also.

Can you imagine the headaches it would give the OC for the other team to have the D line up in the 4-3 then shift to the 3-4 once the sets?

If my hunch is right the new D will need a name. I have have a few in mind, Motown mayhem, Motercity madness, or the Schwartz shift would all be good names.

Maybe you can give it some thought and do a blog with your thoughts

DetFan1979 said...

Dreamer - gald to hear from you! Appreciate the readership!

I have been giving that a lot of thought, actually, and have a piece planned on that very subject this week so look out for it.

Imperical said...

Just wanted to stop in,few things I find interesting on Loper.Very nice blog,btw.
Loper was drafted in 05(we all know that),didn't see any action that season.
Loper played 8 games in 06(some might know that).
He suffered a ruptured spleen during a game,missed a few games.
Played all 16 games the last 2 years as a reserve,seems to be able to fill any spot.
He may have a breakout year as a atarter in his fifth year if no injuries,6'6",330 Lbs.

nubsnobber said...

I like the Loper signing. It seems like he is a big guy (330) but still moves well. He seems to fit the mold.

DEFENSE - It's a 3.5-3.5 defense. You laugh, I kid--but, I'm serious. I thnk they will switch every week depending upon who the opponent is. That's why all these speedy tweeners like Cohen, Avril, and even Dizon are so important. I really like the Grady Jackson signing because it will free up Cory in the middle.

I wouldn't be surprised if you see the Lions run a 2-5 defense on passing downs (and drop the DT into coverage (which would actually be an LB, lined up as a DT)). Schwartz is a very bright coach and he will exploit weaknesses and create matchups. He will play chess.

2girlsandaboydad said...

With ManRam, I wonder if his experience in the pass based offense, 2 point technique in college at TT, has hurt him in so far that he didn't do a lot of road grading type blocking. I recall that he tested out with lots of power. Maybe, he is having a hard time with technique.

Different player but... does that hurt Jason Smith out of Baylor then in the Leos eyes?

Drafting a player might look like this D. Robinson or Mack early. 33 might be too late. Unger has some versatility and would probably be available at 33. Urbik (Wisconsin) could probably be had even later.

Got you bookmarked DetFan.

RIP said...

FA is going very good after a disappointing start with the two trades that didn't happen.

Like most the signings so far. I thought Cook was an interesting one. He started a couple games after Mulitalo wore down.

Here is a question for the ifseason if this scenario unfolds in the draft. If the Leos did not draft a QB and an OL in the first two rounds, and QB Pat White and C Eric Wood are available at 3.a, who would you choose?

DetFan1979 said...

Eric Wood - he is a very capable Og/C and is most likely to go in 2. If a Kevin Smith situation happens and he makes it to 3, I would go for Wood without even hesitating UNLESS:

someone else wants him and offers a favorable trade.

I'd say do this because then you have a 3rd interior lineman, and the competition will bring out the best in Loper, Peterman, and Wood. Loper is on a one year deal, so having his replacement at 3rd round value would be great. Finally, it would give them at worst a backup to Dom, at best his eventual replacement.

Getting all that at 3a? I'd say pull the trigger. White is intriguing, but there are other, larger needs for Detroit. 3b? I'd think about that for White if no other QB selected for versatility alone.

33 is the earliest to go interior line I think. And prefer waiting to 3a -- there will be starting-caliber OG available there.

The Lions need 3 defensive starters from the first 3-4 picks. There aren't even penciled in starters at 2 LB positions, and no great FA to get -- and if the go QB at #1, that means 20 and 33 have to be LB. They still need a young CB, and a DT of the Jackson mold, although they may see how Cohen handles NT duties.

nobsnubber said...

I read an article at that said Lewand still wants to hunt for a FA QB.

If that is the case, and no big LB's left in free agency... How about this? #1 Curry, and #20 Laurinitis.

You have your DE's, and the DT's are shored up with the Grady, and the CB's are now solid.

That would leave a TE at #33 and a G/C at the top of round 3 with a WR and KR at the end of #3.

Manny Ramirez--- good point about MANRAM, and I agree that he is better suited for the run than the pass, and is probably better with this offense than the trap-pull zone scheme. We'll see, but between he and Loper...someone needs to step up.