Thursday, April 30, 2009

COS: Post-Draft Edition

First of all, I had a great time trading comments with everyone (when I had power, that is -- or tapping them out on Mrs.DetFan1979's iPhone) on the draft days.

NetRat had his followup piece on the players that the Lions picked, and I would consider it mandatory reading -- so take a few moments and do so. Also, he has started his normal annual depth-chart predictor. That will be useful, as always, as we as a blog attempt to project the final 53 guys. We as a consensus group were very close last year. It will be fun to look again!

I'll mock our mocks, as well as adding my own continuing draft analysis, plus any thoughts from the rookie minicamp this weekend as well in the coming days. As a note -- Mrs. DetFan1979 is sick (doc said lots of rest, and she needs it) which leaves me carting our girls everywhere, and making a not so successful attempt to keep the house at least a quarter as well as she usually does. Let me take a moment to point out how much I appreciate all the things -- big and little -- that my wife does to enhance the life of our family, and to keep our household running. I have no idea how she does it, but I want to thank her!! Get well soon.

Now - on to the weekly blogger Q&A hosted by the Church of Schwartz. As per usual, you will find the link to all the answers here once it is posted.

This week's questions are short and sweet.

1. What was the Lions worst pick of the draft?

This one is tough for me, mainly because I liked the draft from top to bottom because they chose talent. I am also quite happy with the quantity, quality, and type of UDFA's they brought in both those they signed and the tryouts. Since I have to choose one, I'll say Lyndon Murtha in the 7th. He is a very long-shot to beat out George Foster as the backup swing tackle, but at least they get first crack at him for the practice squad. I would have preferred to see them take a flier on an additional S or LB here. (Otis Wiley, the S I wanted them to pick here, actually went undrafted, and they have now signed him as an UDFA, along with Holtzclaw, the LB I wanted. Guess it's hard to complain when they still got the other two guys anyways... I tried gentlemen. I tried.)

2. What was their best pick?

All of them. NetRat did a great piece, which I also added to on my blog, about the strategy the Lions used this year while drafting -- and they did not deviate from their plan. If you read that, my answer will make more sense (also read TheNetRat's follow-up piece). My favorite pick was Pettigrew. Why? Three reasons:

#1. It let me know the Lions were going to take the best player available at a position of need no matter what (and really -- who can name a TE in the last 15 years worth anything on the Lions?)

#2. It let me know they were not going to "reach" for need/name players as Millen was prone to do on draft day, ignoring all the time and effort put into the board.

#3. He will add dimensions helping out the O-line, helping Smith in the run game, and helping in short yardage, 3rd down conversions, and the red zone as a real threat underneath. No more will a team be able to say "run" or "pass" based on which TE is in the game for the Lions. It also fills the starting TE position for the foreseeable future, eliminating that as a need when drafting next year.

I was so excited at this pick, that I actually pulled into a Dunhams (my wife an I were heading elsewhere, and it was right there) to look for the Lions' new logo gear. Sadly, all they had was "throwback" bubbles 40% off. So I picked up the only shirt in my size and called it good.

Only time will tell if my boundless optimism is warranted, but no sense raining on my parade yet, right? And no, I don't think they make the playoffs in 2009. I said I was optimistic, not insane.

3. Which of the 2nd day picks will have the biggest impact on the team next year?

This is a tough call for me. I would have initially said Levy, as I think he will work out at MLB but if the Lions secure Foot, he will be learning and rotating in for a couple of years, making a lesser impact immediately. I would have to say at this point Williams, based on my belief that he will make a solid impact on the return game. For 2010, I will say Sammie Hill -- He has loads of natural talent, and form all accounts wants coaching and is hungry to step up his game into a true pro- not coast by on natural talent. My gut says he blooms quickly and explosively -- enough to make us fans forget a certain attitude-wielding big guy that wears Brown now... Imagine a motivated big-man in the middle crushing the run -- leaving the LB free to seek, and destroy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What Were They Thinking?

I keep hearing/reading the phrase "what were the Lions thinking in their draft??"

I was getting all ready to write out an explanation of how the whole system worked...when NetRat went and beat me to it. Since he wrote it so well, I am going to both link to and copy it here. (permission was granted by NetRat)

I will add my .02 after NetRat's piece. You will also need to reference this list of players the Lions scouted. I also bolded some lines that stood out to me.

The 2009 Detroit Lions Draft (Part I)

They have a plan. They said they did, we all heard them, but until the Lions were on the clock just exactly what that plan was wasn’t quite known or if known, not understood.

As the draft unfolded I realized exactly what the draft plan was. It’s not something that a lot of people can grasp at first. Sometimes even after explaining it. Despite that, I shall give it a go.

The Lions drafted the best available player on their draft board that fit any need.

The key words there are “their draft board” and “any need”. The lions spent thousands upon thousands of man hours, and hundreds of thousands of dollars (or perhaps millions) scouting players throughout the United States, as all teams do to differing extent. They pay scouts, they spend hours scouring film, they travel to pro days, to the combine, they pay for players to come to Detroit. They update their information daily 365 days a year. Then they spend the weeks leading up to the draft ranking each player that will enter the draft vertically, by position. So they have the best LB at the top, then the 2nd best, then the 3rd, etc. They do this for each position. Then after they have hundreds of potential draft picks ranked, they combine the players into a horizontal ranking, meaning the best in the draft, the 2nd best player in the draft, the 3rd, etc. This gives them their draft board. They rank the players by adding to or taking away from their score based on play, based on competition, based on tangibles like height, weight, and even mental capacity. They learn less then a week before the draft which players failed the drug tests at the combine, and lower the scores of those players. The higher picks they talk to their college coaches, their families, their friends, their opponents. All of this is done in an attempt to get the best ranked draft board possible. Every team does this. But, every team puts more emphasis on one area or another, no two teams rank the players the same. No two teams scout players the same way, or have scouts who see the same things. So okay, the Lions now have their draft board set about a day or two before the draft.

They also have reviewed their own team, along with every other team in the league. They have a good idea of what teams need what… including all their own needs. The temptation during the draft for many is to rate the needs of the team into some sort of order then draft a player to fill the most important need, then the next, etc. This method tends to make for a pretty draft, but it causes a team to “reach” for players that normally wouldn’t be taken right there. In essence, the team drafts by ignoring all that work and all that money they put into their draft board. What the Lions did was draft based on the highest rated player on their draft board that filled one of their needs, any need, and in no particular order. If a team is successful in this, they will slowly fill their roster with the best player they could possibly get, and if they did their homework correctly, that position STAYS filled. The next year, there are that many more positions that do not need to be drafted. The main problem is that the this style of draft does not appear to be addressing needs. It is, obviously, but not in any particular order. Nor will it necessarily address the most important need, or the most needy need. Whatever. Teams that go with this method know they will have to address the remaining needs not filled in the draft after the draft as best they can, then draft again the next year. Like I said, eventually, as long as you fill your needs and they stay filled, you build a team, a very good team, the best team you possibly could build based on who was available as you were drafting.

That is what the Lions (presumably) did. Now, I am biased here. I totally agree with this method of drafting. The pressure to stray from the plan is always there, and sometimes a team will cave… and draft a player by reaching for him simply to fill a need. The trick is to resist that temptation and build your team with the very best players you can get your hands on. That way, if there are mistakes made, it’s not because you ignored all your time and money making your daft board, it’s because you made the wrong draft board.

A fan might not like this method, and I can appreciate that. A fan might not agree with the picks a team made, but the fan doesn’t have all the information a team has, so the fan might be wrong, or the team might be wrong. Unfortunately no one knows how a pick will turn out in advance, so it’ll be a year or two or three before it’s known if the team was right or the fan. Regardless of how the draft turns out, a fan needs to realize the team had no intention whatsoever to address all their needs, or even necessarily their most pressing need, they planned to fix ANY need they have with the best players they could get. And that part is very hard to accept.

So on to the Lions 2009 draft. Pick #1, Matthew Stafford. The Lions had him ranked #1 on their board, they had the first pick, and the only thing that would’ve stopped them from drafting him was if the player’s agent and the team couldn’t agree to a contract before the draft… or if some other team made an offer to trade that was just too good to resist. There was no blockbuster trade offer, or for all I know, any trade offer, and the contract was agreed to the day before the draft. The Lions picked their QB for the future. A need. Will he turn out? I have no idea at all. It was a need, he was the highest player on their board. End of pick #1.

Note: I would’ve probably had Eugene Monroe or Jason Smith rated higher then Stafford. So my first pick if a contract was agreed to would’ve been a left tackle. Also a need, in my opinion.Pick #20 puts the Lions on the clock with (presumably) Brandon Pettigrew TE on the top of their board. A need. The pick is made. They had him rated higher then the 4th left tackle on the vertical board, higher then the middle line backer who dropped nearly a full round from here, so there was info there that fans don’t have. (I might have had Alex Mack rated higher, a center/guard, so my pick would’ve been another Oline pick).

Pick #33 the Lions take their next top rated player, Louis Delmas, the best Safety in the draft. Another need. They had him ranked higher then say Laurinaitis, a much more pressing need, but they are not drafting for need, they are drafting the best player they can at any need. I probably would’ve had the same player on my list (the one I really wanted was drafted the pick before) [Me too. ~ DF79], so a Safety for me as well.

At this point they have their best players picked, QB, TE, S. I would’ve have LT, C/G, S. All these players were on the “list”. The list is posted under this post. [linked to above the story ~ DF79] It consists of all the players the Lions were known to have contact with. Last year, the list contains every single draft pick they took except for one. This year LionHawkeye, the fan who spent probably hundreds of hours scouring the internet for news and photos to determine who the lions contacted, made an even more in depth list. Between round 2 and round 3 we had no idea the Lions had been sneaky. They had brought in at least 3 players to Allen Park and no one knew (including DeAndre Levy on April 17th). In addition, they told players not to say anything, according to a guy in Iowa, they told the scouts to quit making comments after a couple got out. In other words, they shut down all leaks and the list was utterly incomplete… when we were thinking it was even more complete then the year before. I don’t know if it helped them in the draft, but they managed to get 6 players drafted that were not on our list. I applaud the front office being able to have that much control despite our efforts, we will of course have to try harder… anyone know how to do wire taps? *Just kidding*

The rest of the draft I’m sure you followed (you didn’t read all the way to here without being a big fan). The trades, the picks they took. How thin the draft was in the final two rounds. When all is said and done the Lions got (presumably) the best players they could possibly get based on their own scoring system to fill needs on the team. Not all of them. Maybe not even the most dire needs. Or the most important. Whatever. But if they did it right, they won’t need to fill those needs again next year. This year they didn’t need a #1 WR, or a #1 RB. A right tackle, a kicker, punter, long snapper, or starting weakside linebacker. Next year they also won’t need (hopefully) a starting QB, a starting TE, a starting Safety, and with luck, some other starting positions, or if not that, some backup positions (those are needs too). The more needs that get filled, the more players they will skip over even if rated the highest, because that highest rated player on their board won’t fill a need. If the next 10 players aren’t needs they will accept more trade downs in the higher rounds. Eventually they will be drafting players only to replace free agents and the older vets. The draft then might even appear to the fan like some of the Patriots or Pittsburgh drafts. That’s the plan. That's what the Lions planned to do and as near as I can tell, that is exactly what they did.

In a few days or so I’ll post part II. My opinions of the actual picks, and where I think they will fit in on the roster (or if they will make the roster)… and my opinion of what needs they will yet address in free agency.

DetFan1979's Additional Thoughts:

Be sure to read through the post carefully -- it is how the Lions will be drafting for at least the next 3 - 4 years. If it works, even longer. I will also be posting my thoughts on the players in the coming weeks as I learn more about them.

A couple of things to take second note of, that are misunderstood by many when talking about "BPA"

1. Top Player on Their Board who Fills a Need.

2. IF top 10 players or so don't fill a need, trade back. Repeat until a top player on board fills a need.

A definition of need also bears looking at: Levels of need are Starter, Backup, Future Starter, Specialist. Everyone who is up in arms over Schwartz saying they took a second in-depth look at Levy after scouting Beanie Wells in case he fell to them at the top of two. If Wells was there at 33 and was top on their board, they would have taken him because a young power back to complement Kevin Smith and back him up was a need.

It's not most dire need. Not most wanted need. ANY need.

See how it works?

This also takes a lot of pressure off draft-day decision making by the GM -- and if the players don't turn out to be like the scouts rated them, you can rightfully blame the scouts and get new ones, or work on what went wrong with more clarity. [for example, maybe the scouts totalyl whiffed on a lot of dline rankings. They can look at what went wrong and focus on fixing that part. Where maybe they were spot on with dback ratings, so they don't change a thing about how they scout them.] It allows the GM to make deals with other teams draft day looking at the value left on their board, versus figuring out who to take come your pick AND fielding trade offers. [no more voices from the back of the room shouting "Calhoun?!" as the clock is running out.] Millen so often went against the scouts' and coaches' wishes, I'm surprised they won any games! Oh wait...

Seriously though, a little noticed fact early this ifseason -- the week after the season ended -- was when Mayhew indicated that they were going back and looking at how every draft board over the past 8 years was stacked, and how each of those players turned out relative to their ranking on the Lions' board. [lost link, couldn't find story but I did have notes on it. Sorry.] Not who they took -- that was a decision, and Millen drafted for need. But how they had them rated.

After only letting go one person in the scouting department, I think it is pretty obvious what the conclusion of that study was. We'll see if that faith was rightly placed.

finally, one more point on the style of BPAFN (Best Player Available Fits Need) -- you end up with a team stocked with talent -- and the ability to target specific guys on your board to get int eh right spot to match need and value.

If you are always drafting for just need, and do it well, you will be taking a guy at say, 20 -- who should have gone 30th. then you take a guy at say 52 who should have gone in the 70's... what do you get? You get a team of guys you "needed" that are mediocre. Middle of the pack. So you still "need" an upgrade at that position. It's a great way to get an 8-8 team that gets lucky now and then, and not so lucky other times.

The method the Lions are using, when done right (in conjunction with a strong scouting department) will lead to a talent loaded team ala New England, or Pittsburgh -- two teams who religiously draft this way. It looks confusing right now because there are so many more needs for the Lions than these other team... while they may not be what holes you, or I, or even the Lions may WANT to fill first -- they are those needs that they can will with top talent first.

In the end, as long as they are filling holes that will STAY filled, they can patch them in whatever order they want in my opinion. Because IF they are doing it right, in 2011 about the time Matt Stafford should be hitting his stride, the Lions should be eyeing the playoffs.

But for 2009? The coaches and front office are basically saying without saying -- the wins will be what they will be; every attempt will be made to win games - don't get me wrong - but only so long as those attempts don't sacrifice the future, or deviate from the plan.

Lots of IF's to this success or failure -- but isn't that why this is the IF season, after all?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Draft Day 2: Skip the Blackout!

Please continue on with your draft day one thoughts on this or the last article -- and definitely read all the comments on the last one. There were a lot of good thoughts, and great analysis.

I'll leave more in-depth analysis of day 1 and the roster for the coming months, and will take a look at what could be in store for day 2 first.

Sports illustrated lists the BPA still here (according to them.)

As we saw on many many fronts in the first two rounds, different teams this year had widely varying opinions on a large cross section of players. It was just as muddled as it was projected to be, and I don't think any teams had a real solid feel for what any other team was going to do.

Here are the remaining players the Lions had visit from LionHawkeye's List, to give you an idea who they may be targeting in three. Right now, I'm thinking Brinkley as the ILB, but not sure on who else they will go for... Gilbert at DT or Robinson at OG are two guesses. Don't think they will go for a second TE or S. I also get the feeling they are not going for a CB --- though I've been wrong before!

(number is number of visits)
Jarron Gilbert DT San Jose state 3
Jasper Brinkley ILB South Carolina 2
Derrick Williams WR PSU 2
Duke Robinson OG Oklahoma 2
Jared Cook TE South Carolina 3
Michael Johnson DE Georgia Tech 2
Chase Coffman TE Missouri 2
Travis Beckum TE Wisconsin 2
Marcus Freeman ILB OSU 2
Tyronne Mckensie ILB USF 2
Cory Irvin DT Georgia 3
Tyronne Greene OG Auburn 2
Jon Cooper C Oklahoma 2
Donald Washington CB OSU 3
Demetrius Byrd WR LSU 3
Jason Phillips ILB TCU 2
Daniel Holtzclaw ILB EMU 2
Seth Olsen OL Iowa 2
DeAngelo Willingham CB Tennesee 3
Pannel Egboh DE Stanford 2
Jerraud Powers CB Auburn 2
Ellis Lankster CB WVU 2
DJ Boldin WR Wake Forest 3
Roy Miller DT Texas 2
Nick Hennessey OL Colgate 3
Carson Butler TE Michighan 2
EJ Bigger CB WMU 3
Tristan Davis RS Auburn 2
Bradley Fletcher CB Iowa 2
Johnny Knox WR Abeline Christian 3
Jacob Wyatt SS EMU 2
Brice McCain CB/RS Utah 3
Alex Fletcher C Stanford 2

The Lions are not picking for perceived need -- but rather the top rated guy on their board (I'm assuming whose position they haven't picked yet unless they need more than one.) I honestly do not have a good feel for how their board is stacked, so I'm about as clueless as everyone else at this point. I'm with ya DetroitSims!!

On to Day 2!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Draft Day 2009!

Well, as per several sources, I'm sure you all know now that Matthew Stafford has been drafted #1 overall by the Detroit Lions.

I can say that, personally, I will still follow Aaron Curry as I think he'll have a heck of a career. The good news for Lions fans is that if Stafford wants to see half of the money it will be reported he signed for, he's going to have to do pretty darned good -- which will mean the Lions offense is humming!

Here's hoping!!

Still have 6 picks to go for the Lions -- 2 tomorrow (or more if they trade down).

Lots of excitement here to go!!

As I indicated, I'll be coaching the little-pink Lions in Soccer tomorrow, then having family over after the games. Not sure how much/when I'll be in -- but I want everyone to leave their thoughts and impressions through the morning, and through the draft on here in the comments. It will be interesting to come back and see what we were all thinking in a few years.

Hopefully, the Lions will be playoff bound then!! BTW - I will look at details of contracts for players -- particularly Stafford -- when I get them from NetRat sometime in the coming weeks. So I don't want to hear anything about money til the details are out -- because we all know the media and agents hype up the biggest inflated numbers, which usually aren't what is likely to be earned.

Go Lions!!!

Support Your Team

I've seen where some indicate they will be "booing" Matt Stafford if he is the pick -- I don't see why. I hear "It's a Millen move" -- and don't see how anything that Mayhew and Co. have done this ifseason that is even close to Millenesque.

Blackhat24 on the Mlive Lions forum put it better than my rambling thoughts I had written, so I'll post it here. Also, don't forget to read all the great comments on the last story -- lots of them there, with great insight and thoughts!


You posed the question "Why not wait till next year to take a QB?". That is a perfectly reasonable thought. Here's what has influenced my thinking;

1. First, there are quite a few uncertainties surrounding the availability of a top-prospect for next year. Will Sam Bradford come out early? If he does, will the Lions be in a position to take him? I am aware, of course, that there will be other options, and some of them look pretty good, though aside from Bradford I do not see anyone who measures up to Matt least right now.

2. But a more compelling reason that I think that the Lions are seriously considering Stafford is this; If we assume that there is a developmental period consisting of a season where the new QB is getting prepared for full-time duty, (and that seems to be the common assumption) then taking a QB in 2009 means that he ought to be ready in 2010.
On the other hand, if we wait another year, it serves to delay the beginning of the developmental process one more season. If the Lions land Tim Tebow, for example, in the 2010 draft, and if there is a necessary break-in period, that means that our new quarterback will not be ready till 2011.

So far as I'm concerned, if we are going to be faced with postponing the installation at all, then let's get on with the process and hope that it accelerates the hoped-for rise by the Lions by one year.

Making it very clear; I acknowledge that Aaron Curry is a wonderful player who has displayed class and dignity in the lead-up to the draft. I'd love to see him in the middle of the Lion defense, but if there is a crowd that is determined to boo and complain about the possible selection of Matt Stafford, that group will not include me. No sir, if Matt Stafford becomes a Lion, then it means that we're counting on him in a big way, and I've waited entirely too long to witness any significant amount of success from the Lions.

Whichever way this thing goes, so far as I am concerned, any new hope for the future is entirely welcome around Ford Field. His name can be Stafford, Curry or any of several other possibilities, but as a loyal Lion fan I expect to support his arrival no matter who he is.

We are all passionate Lions Fans who want the team to win. I like how Mayhew is running the show -- I"m giving him a cautiously optimistic shot with his building process until shown that such trust is misplaced. I'm hoping all of you fellows give him -- and the newly drafted Lions from this weekend, and newly signed FA from this Ifseason -- give him your support and positive energy as well.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

LB or QB? Call Heads or Tails...

Well, the percentages are down to 50/50. As widely reported today, including by Killer on Mlive, the Detroit Lions have agreed to terms with Aaron Curry to be the #1 pick in the draft.

Don't get too excited there folks -- there is one catch keeping me from cracking open a cold one and toasting to Mayhew...

They have also offered a contract to Matt Stafford. If he takes it by Friday, he is the pick. If he doesn't, Aaron Curry is a Lion.

That simple.

Isphet had some great thoughts on this, so I am posting his comment from the last article here:

"This is a brilliant move on the Lion's part. They can get Curry for a reasonable number 1 pick salary; or they float a number out to Stafford that's maybe slightly more and say: "choose before Friday to play for us for that money."

What's great about it is this: They can get Stafford for a reasonable price, OR Stafford can basically say "No." and the Lions take Curry for a reasonable price.

This gives Stafford an out if he doesn't really want to be in Detroit without making him look like a whiny Eli Manning when he got drafted by the chargers. This ALSO gives Detroit an out with the media if they end up taking Curry. "We WANTED Stafford, but he wanted too much money, or he decided he didn't want to play for us, so what was the point of drafting him?"

My guess is that Stafford passes on the contract and the Lions draft Curry. 60%/40% Curry/Stafford at this point.

They've basically given Stafford a free pass to say "I don't really want to play for the Lions." It's gut-check time for Stafford to see if he REALLY wants to be in Detroit. The question is: Does he take it? If so, we know he's taking not a HUGE contract and not just doing it for the money, so he's going a long way towards proving himself to Lions fans if he takes that contract and is drafted by the Lions.

I know I'll be a lot happier with Stafford knowing he's not just in Detroit for the money, but because he WANTS to be.

Kudos to Mayhew for putting everyone in a position to win and get what they want; now to see how it all works out in the end. ~~ Isphet"

Hear Hear!

I hope Mayhew stands firm on whatever it is he offered to Stafford. I disagree totally with one line from Killer's piece that I have seen repeated elsewhere:

"The price of the contract can only go up in the final hours so Condon likely will push the issue as far as he feels he has something to gain."

Why would it go up? Stand firm Mayhew! You've said what you are willing to pay, you have Curry ready to go! Why would they suddenly give more on Friday?

The LIONS and Martin Mayhew set the deadline -- not Tom Condon. That means the closer it gets to Friday, the less bargaining power Condon has. Mayhew has painted a bright honolulu-blue line in the sand and said "You with us or not? Because we're happy over here with Aaron Curry if you want to stay over there."

Making it public and stating it the way he has leads me to believe pretty strongly that Mayhew has had enough BS and the negotiating is pretty much over. A contract with Stafford will be done on the Lions' terms or not at all. Along with Curry accepting same/less than Long as per his own statements, a clear message is being sent to the Agents that they, Condon especially, are not going to like: You don't run the draft, you don't make us pay what you want for who we want -- if your player wants to be here we will give him a fair deal, and if he only wants the big payday -- go home.

This is the same message Mayhew has been giving free agents all ifseason long -- should we really be surprised he is doing so when negotiating with the #1 overall pick as well? He is still being consistent with his actions on how he is going to go about building this team.

Curry deal is at it's highest the same as Jake Long's last year. Possibly lower. Condon DID NOT count on Curry agreeing to terms like that (after all, who takes less than last year's #1 pick irregardless of position -- that's crazy!) He's been floating that $40 million guaranteed number out there for weeks now... if he takes less, he looks weak. If he gives in to the Lions' demands for a lower contract, he looks weak. It's going to be a bad couple of days for Condon -- because something tells me Mayhew is going to win this game of chicken on his terms.

The Lions truly hold all the cards -- they own the pick. Tom Condon knows every ounce of leverage he may have had went out the window when the Lions announced Curry agreeing to terms. Plus, he still has no idea if he is negotiating with the Lions...or a team they may be trading down with -- which is another consideration for why they haven't signed Curry yet at this point.

Lets say the Lions have a possible partner -- but the trade doesn't happen. So they say Stafford didn't take their offer, and go with Curry. Even if Condon tries to say "But Detroit wouldn't negotiate...or...We took their offer! Really!" it will come across as nothing but damage control by Condon for screwing up -- whether it is true or not.

I agree with Isphet that Mayhew has put Detroit in an excellent position. How he as played the Ifseason and his draft gambits at this point has led me to have enough confidence in him to give him a shot. IF Stafford agrees to terms and they take him -- I will trust he was indeed their #1 choice for a reason, and give him a shot and support.

Trusting the front office of the Lions to evaluate talent will be hard to get used to...hope that trust is not, once again, misplaced...

Fire! Or is it just Smoke?

Ahhh... breathe in that suffocating, stinging air. The smoke is floating thicker than at a Rastafarian frat party, or a 6-alarm blaze at a smoke flare factory...

Yep -- it's the week of the draft all right!

Candidates for the #1 overall pick have their agents negotiating with the Lions, while the players make the radio circuit and subtly (or not so subtly) try to kiss the right backsides in public to lobby to be the pick as well.

Matt Stafford was offering up how he's gonna buy a Ford if he gets drafted, and Aaron Curry came right out and said he told his agent and the Lions he would take a deal LESS than what Jake Long got at #1 overall last year! (I'd be all for that... and it confirms what I said earlier about Curry being serious about minimizing the cost factor fear and wanting to be the first pick -- and come to the Lions.)

I laughed at the all the "Lions have honed in on" stories. They are just blowing the smoke around and feeling giddy from the contact high. The players don't know. The agents don't know. The media certainly doesn't know.

So what do we know? We know already that Mayhew and Co. are worlds more competent than Millen was. We know that Mayhew has come right out and said that Schwartz and Him will have final say -- and that they both will have to agree on a player before they take him. This means no more Joey situations where the GM is saddling the coach with a guy he doesn't want.

I also found it interesting that the Lions are finally discussing all the players who may be available at given spots, and trade scenarios, how their board is stacked, etc. ahead of time (like, well, like good teams do.) . This should mean an end to the "A voice from the back of the room yells out how about Calhoun?" type situations.

I believe what Mayhew says about how they are picking -- it lays the responsibility equally on him and Schwartz. This negates his ability to effectively scapegoat the coach and ties him directly into how successful Schwartz is, and vice-versa. The Lions front office and coaching staff are a true team at this point, and we'll have to wait for results. I also believe what Mayhew was saying about general draft practices as it didn't give away anything other teams could use to their advantage.

Actually, it made worrisome trends for other teams with Mayhew indicating he would go any position if talent was there because "with our roster, you can't pass up talent". This should further open trade options for the Lions at #20 and #33.

I don't believe anything he or anyone else says about players at this point -- there is more stink from crap flying around than off a manure spreader in the hot summer sun laying down the fertilizer on hungry fields.

Who will it be? How will they do?

Only time can tell that -- and while we will have some ideas come Monday, we won't truly know for quite some time...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Curry Slipping Down - Or at #1?

It’s been odd to see the same people for two months who have said Aaron Curry is too expensive by far to go number one overall, they had him going 2, 3 or 4…which is still in the slots that put him at about 150% of the top LB pay…

Now, he is starting to “slide” in mocks into a range that puts him salary-wise as close to (if not the) top paid LB in the league. Don Banks has him going at #8 to the Jags. Lets also consider that Peters-LT Buffalo was traded to the Eagles for a 1st rounder plus a late rounder. That puts the Eagles out of the LT sweepstakes, but puts the Bills in real need of one – desperately so.

What could Detroit get for trading Backus to the Bills if Detroit goes OT at the top? I’m not sure… Jauron already has been exposed to Backus, and is familiar with him. If a 3rd rounder could be had, would it be worth it?

Another thought is this: If Curry is still there at pick 8 – do the Lions trade with the Jags say #20 and #82 this year to move up and take Curry? I know they need all the picks they can get – BUT – if you can get a guy you were considering at #1 overall, for #20 and #82 would you do it? Especially if the only reason you didn’t take him was the irrational pay-slotting of high-first round draft picks?

Would you go #20 and #65? If they went Stafford at one, this mock also suggests that Laurinitis or Rey will be there for the taking for the Jags at #20 if they are thinking LB… so you get Stafford at #1, Curry at #8, and looking at who that mock has falling into round two plenty of choices for the Lions at #33 – including trade back for a couple #2’s or an extra third. Maybe even a low-#1 next year and a #3 this year…

There should be top S and CB available in the latter half of 2 if they pick up 2 2nd’s from a team that’s got ‘em. Point is, they would still have options to get solid starting caliber players to continue helping the D.

If they go OT at #1, it makes it more likely to me as you could attempt to trade Backus to a top LT need team that loses out on the top 4 who would currently be better than Backus. Not only that, they trade up to get Curry, and then take a top CB or S at #33, and a run-stuffing DT with the 3rd.
You get: Upgrade on the O-line, Elite LB Corps, and a new starter for the Dline and Secondary.

Those are blocks you can build on. I know the Lions needs lots of bodies -- but they need them to be starters, and significant upgrades over what they already have. Ideally? As Killer pointed out, they should go Curry at 1, a DT at 20 and the top S if he's there at #33.

With Daunte looking like a rookie (as far as how in shape he is), and sounding just as exuberant -- at 32 he fits the trend of older QB's who had success in the past but for whatever reason were let go -- coming back and elevating their game and leading teams well into their 30's. IF Culpepper is following the trends set by Collins, Garcia, and Warner then he could be a solid starter to lead the LUCK (Lions Under Construction Kurrently) for a good 4 - 5 years.

So if it is Stafford or an OT -- do you trade up for Curry if the price is right and he slips, or get an extra body in the third?

What are your thoughts??

Friday, April 17, 2009

NetRat 2009 First Round Contracts

When you hear people talking about the contract for the first pick, many refer to 6 year deals worth X (I'm looking at you Peter King), etc. Following is a short list related to the overall contracts that are likely, and specifically the #1 overall. Very good information.

1. Every single first rounder can have a contract no more then 5 years long. No 6 year contracts allowed this year.

2. Last year and every year before the QB got a bigger contract then those around him. Look at #3 and #18 from last year.

3. The salary cap per team went up nearly 10% from last year.

4. Agents will attempt to get the equivalent contract from last year's slot plus 10%, the amount of the cap increase from last year.

5. A QB will get more then any other position.

6. The #1 pick will be around $74 mill in total for 5 years and around $35 mill guaranteed if it's a QB. It will be around $62 mill for 5 years with around $32 mill guaranteed if it's not a QB. These amounts are estimates.

7. The Lions do not need the player to actually sign the contract before the draft, just agree to the terms.

The last point is very important, as it allows the Lions to trade the pick, and yet not take a huge cap hit for having already signed the player, while still allowing them to, in essence, have the player signed. Will they pull a San Diego - New York trade ala Manning for Rivers and Picks?? We can only hope, since Sand Diego ended up with Rivers, Merriman, and their kicker...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Church of Schwartz: Q&A 4-17-09

After a one week hiatus, the Detroit Lions Bloggers are back with answers for the Church of Schwartz. I will link to the full set of answers from the Lions Bloggers Panel here once it is up.

Here are the questions, along with the answers I submitted:

1. Do you like what Roscoe Parrish would bring to the Lions? How much would we have to pay the Bills to get him?

I like what Roscoe Parrish would bring to the Lions a few injuries ago. While he was a pretty good return man at one point, how much he has left I'm not certain. I can't see Buffalo taking anything shy of draft picks for him -- and he is worth more than a 6th and less than a 3rd. I would rather see the Lions take a shot on a return specialist in the 6th round who is young and hungry, rather than acquire Parrish. I don't think the upside with him is greater than that of a flier on a return guy later in the draft.

2. George Foster looks like he's turned over a new leaf. Where do you see him playing next year for us(if at all)?

I see him as a backup swing tackle, and possibly even a backup OG if he can do well there -- he has size, but some quickness and would work better at OG than Backus. I think many are underestimating Daniel Loper heading into this draft. I have no doubt that he will win the LOG spot -- and my gut says depending on who the Lions draft, he could push Backus for the LT spot. People in Tennessee I've talked to have indicated they were hoping Loper would stick around, but knew that he was too good to stay a backup for long. Only Tennessee's excellent line with few injuries kept down his playing time.

3. Whom do you prefer if they are available at 1.20: Rey Maualuga or James Laurinaitis?

I find myself in a "do I have to pick one?" mode again... From what I've seen, both are two down MLB in the NFL unless they can develop some currently lacking cover skills. While that isn't all bad, I think the Lions can find a better player available at the 1:20 spot. One thing you won't see from this front office is any Dizon-like reaches for need. They can find a very solid 2 down MLB later in the draft just as well as they can drafting one of hype guys early on. They may even be able to find a 3 down backer who will take a few lumps, but develop well in the 2nd or third. Of course, this won't even be a problem since we all know they are going to shuck convention and take Curry at #1. :P

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Email Bag: Draft Day Trades?

Here are a couple more questions from the Email Bag. As I said, I'm answering them in bunches, but will really try to get to them all. The questions are in italics, and the answers are in regular type. Thanks for all the great questions -- and all the great comments!! Keep it up!!

Also, don't forget to get your mock in by clicking on the link to the right, and putting it in comments. Remember, you can do what you think the Lions will do, and what you would like them to do. We'll see how we all did after the draft!

Onto your questions:

This may be an unrealistic draft day trade scenario, but I wanted to run this by you and get your thoughts, on if it is something other teams may go for:

Trading the #1 overall:

- Lions negotiate with Curry, and get agreement in principle to #1 overall terms. Lions then start expressing their interest in Curry, tipping their hand
- Lions trade #1 overall with KC for #3 overall and KC 3rd round pick (I would settle for 4th round if needed). KC does not need a QB, and probably has Curry at the top of their board. Fearing the Lions will take Curry, coupled with a modest asking price, they make the swap
- With #3 overall, Lions talk to Denver, assuming that Denver has Stafford in their sights. Lions trade #3 overall to Denver for their #12 and a 3rd rounder.

Lions target BJ Raji at 12 and best LB avail at 20. Or, Lions target Maleuga at 12 and Piera at 20. Plus, they end up with an extra 3rd and extra 4th rounder, and escape the #1 overall pick price tag and expectations. ~~ Eric

Your scenario starts out semi-realistic. The possibility of KC wanting Curry and trading for #1 overall if the Lions have already negotiated a #3 value contract is possible, though there are a lot of moving parts. It would likey be for a 4th, as they already lost their 2nd in the Cassel trade and Pioli is of the Belechik school of "trade down, not up."

Where it loses steam is with Denver. Talking heads take a look at Orton+picks for Cutler and assume that Denver doesn't have a QB, thus will need to draft one high. There are several problems with that the silly mainstream media seems to ignore.

1. Josh McDaniels REALLY likes Kyle Orton and thinks that he can be the right type of QB to run his offense. (I tend to agree. He is pretty accurate, doesn't make a lot of mistakes, plays smart.)

2. Orton is a seasoned vet who has been to the Superbowl as a backup, and into the playoffs with the Bears. For the same reason the Bears wanted Cutler to spark their offense, Orton works for Denver in that McDaniels feels he fits his mold better than a "gunslinger" like Cutler.

3. McDaniels likes later round QB's. His QB's have been: Tom Brady and Matt Cassel. I needn't point out that neither was acquired anywhere close to Round 1 -- quite the opposite. McDaniels believes in skill set and mentality more than hype at QB.

4. There is a greater than 50% bust rate with first round QB's. As Don Banks points out, only 14 of 32 teams are starting QB's that they drafted in the first round. Considering how many are taken each year in round one, that is a horrible number...

Because of just those 4 factors, coupled with a weak overall QB class (as far as first rounders are concerned) with underclassmen having an even worse success rate than the overall first round QB"s, you will NOT see Denver trade up for an offensive player come draft day. I expect them to stand pat and take a couple of defensive play makers. Remember, the only Defense worse than Denver's last year? The Detroit Lions.

I like the idea that Detroit may be able to get out of the first overall, and would love to see them drop down up to 5 spots for a third rounder, up to 10 spots for a 2nd. We'll just have to wait and see, but I don't think it will happen.

What pick do you think the Lions will trade, and what will they get for it? ~~ PrinceLeo

The pick most likely to be traded is the #20 overall. At least a few players will "fall" to that point that teams who are a player or two away from a Superbowl run, or whom teams covet, will want.

If it is someone who picked in the top 10, they are likely to get either a 2 and 3 this year, or a 2 this year and next. Two #2's from one of the 2 or three teams that have two this year is also a possibility. Another scenario there would have the Lions getting a #2 this year and next for the pick. Finally, a team at the end of the round may give their late round first and this year's 2 for pick, or maybe a late 3rd depending on how many teams are "bidding" for the pick.

As you can see, there are a lot of options for trade at that spot. With the notoriously greedy Eagles picking after the Lions (they are known for only making lopsided trades heavily in their favor), teams will be more open to working with Mayhew as he has already shown with the Kitna, Redding, and Roy deals that he will be a firm but fair negotiator.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lions 2009 Calendar

No real analysis on the schedule from me til I see how teams have shaken out after the ifseason, but you can get a good PDF copy here from

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Loose Lips... Or Lukemia?

The Matthew-Stafford-Lions #1 Overall-Guess-a-thon continues. Most of the ammo comes from PFT (see last story for a link or two). As you will note on my sidebar links, it's titled PFT (Amateur Football Talk) for a reason.

The site itself is a shameless "National Enquirer" style of football talk. The two stories centered around Stafford are that: He either hasn't signed, or has ditched Tom Condon as his agent AND that he has been bragging to his ex-teammates that he has a done deal with the Lions guaranteeing him $40 million.

As far as agent, I'm sure the NFL just hasn't fully updated all of their agent contract thingy's. The next point, though, could bother me for several reasons. The first word/sentence of this next paragraph is the most important so there is no misunderstanding:

IF the rumors of him talking about a done deal with the Lions are true:

1. It shows a severe lack of maturity, discipline, and ability to handle pressure on his part. If he can't even keep to himself (maybe mom and dad) a confidential deal that his prospective employer that is giving him $40 million wants kept secret, I hope they UN-"done deal" it.

2. If he can't tow the party line before he really has the contract, what kind of leader will he be for the team when things get rough, or even when they are going well? The players have responded well to Coach Schwartz and the front office has been in lockstep in their images, interviews, statements. Specifically, after the ifseason workouts started, you didn't hear current players complaining about the media restrictions, rather, they operated within them to forward the team image that the front office and coaching staff wants them to.

Stafford's immaturity will make him unable to lead the franchise -- the whole world knows the Lions want to trade the pick, but no one outside of Allen Park definitively knows what the Lions are going to do with that #1 overall, and that is in the best interest of the Lions.

3. IF Stafford let this leak (and let's face, immaturity is one of the big ? on him) then he is in one stroke blowing away all the smoke the Lions have worked so hard to build around their draft in one breath. Loose lips sink ships...and loose lips bugger drafts.

4. Thought: This front office likes to test people. They tossed their coaching candidates in front of the media to see how they would do. Their draft picks and FA coming in have been tested to be sure the Lions are getting what/who they think they are. Since Stafford's maturity level is of big concern, what if they pulled fast one?

What IF -- Mayhew and Lewand -- while working out a tentative deal -- gave him the impression it was a done deal, just the details had to be figured out -- and didn't say anything else.

Honestly, if you are smart and have any sense of adult seriousness (and he IS an adult) then not telling anyone would go without saying -- especially if he has been following the team "getting ready to lead the Lions" as he has been spouting off at every opportunity...

But by not saying it, they could see how he reacts...if he tells, whom he tells, how he does it... how does he handle the pressure of knowing he is "likely" #1 overall, and is "going to probably have" $40 million in the bank?

IF that is the case, then I would give him an Failing grade and move on. IF it isn't totally true, and it is just him running his mouth bragging what he thinks will happen, it still is a caution sign. IF it isn't true at all, the Lions front office will, I'm sure, know about it and be able to dismiss it like the "impending trade" of Jay Cutler to Washington that was on the site...

The key word? IF. And IF I were Stafford, and I didn't say anything, I'd be on the phone with Allen Park myself going "what do you want me to say, boss?"

Now, lets contrast this to whom most Lions fans favor: Aaron Curry. What is he up to these days? Oh, just helping out a 12 year old who battled lukemia raise awareness of the need for bone marrow donors. And of course, inviting him to come with him to the draft's "green room" in New York. Curry continues to show that he is a mature, classy individual to go along with being a heck of a player on the field. I've said before: They pick him, and I'm right there to buy a Curry Jersey -- and I'm not a jersey kind of guy. He would be a phenomenal face of a Detroit team with a strong defensive attitude.

Friday, April 10, 2009

EMail Bag: WR & MLB

[As I indicated, I will be answering questions from the email-bag for the next few days, tackling a question or two at a time. Today's topic is briefly WR, and then it's all MLB...]

Looking at our recievers, CJ mentioned them on the Lions website as big bodies, but also like they were the top four. The four he mentioned were Bryant Johnson, Chris Hannon, John Standeford....and himself. What are your thoughts about these receivers and their potential, as well as Steve Sanders whom he did not mention?Also, do you feel Dizon has enough frame to add maybe 15-20 pounds to make him a "bigger" LB and maybe a MLB candidate? ~~ Patrick

I think there is more potential in the Lions WR corps than most. While they are sorely lacking a returner out of that bunch, I think it is much stronger than it appears. Also, remember that Linehan likes two TE formations, so look for the Lions to have fewer 3 and 4 wide sets. CJ can be a dominant #1, I think Bryant Johnson is a solid #2 guy, and Standeford played very well once he was finally given a chance. The others are a little sketchier, and I forsee them drafting a WR/KR at some point this draft, or bringing in a ton of return guys for mini-camps and camp. They may have resigned Cason, but I'm sure Kwan has nightmares about actually having to start another season with him as his return man...

As for Dizon, I'm not really sure if he has the right frame to add a lot of bulk. I think he has a chance to be a solid backup, and ST player on this team, but not a lot more. See next question for more...

Where is the Lions biggest area (position) of need? I know they need a ton of players to become a playoff team but what is the weakest position on the team right now? IMHO it would be MLB. Dizon however appears to be a typical Millen bust ala Teddy Lehman.~~ Ibjackiemoon

It is by far MLB. The Lions have bodies at every single position at this point except MLB. While other positions will be upgrades (and some of them will be very easy to make big upgrades to) there is no real MLB on the roster right now. Schwartz wants a 3 down MLB and will do his darndest to be sure they get one in this draft. It is one of the reasons I think Curry is still in the mix for #1 overall.

As for Lehman, he was fantastic his rookie year -- but he fell on draft boards due to durability/injury concerns and they proved, unfortunately, to be well founded. He is a great LB when healthy. Unfortunately, he hasn't been healthy since his rookie season and likely never will be again. Boss Baily was a lack of tackling ability and again, durability (Millen seemed to takes durability risk most often, and he always lost. See also, Calhoun, Brian.) Dizon was a reach pure and simple because the Lions needed a LB badly, and they were so inept at hiding their draft plans that the Pats felt they had to snag Mayo early to get him -- and they did. Imagine if Mayo had fallen to Detroit? The Lions panicked and took Dizon VERY early, instead of taking BPA or even close and waiting to take a chance on a MLB til the 3rd or 4th.

Interesting idea about Dizon....IF we took Curry with #1 does anyone think that a Sims, Curry, Dizon, and Peterson LB core, that would be put in sometimes under that Hybrid 4-3/3-4 that the DC seems to be leaning towards to put pressure on the opposing QB, would be as killer as I think it would be??? ~~ DesertLion

I don't think Dizon plays significantly into the Lions' plans unless he really starts bulking up and working his tail off. He was a pretty instinctual player when he was on the field (limited though that time was) but lacked a lot of polish. As I said, he can be a solid backup at LB and ST player, but I don't see him becoming any more than that. Alex Lewis, when healthy, is a better SLB and has a better chance of making the team as Peterson's backup. When they do shift to a 3-4 at times, it will be Avril or White dropping into an OLB possible pass rush position. Both can cover decently, and with Peterson able to rush the passer and Sims on the other side, not matter which DE they drop into the 4th LB spot, the other team will have a very hard time telling if the rush will come from one or both OLB. Dizon is not necessary at all for that to work.

Just having Sims-Curry-Peterson if they pick up a good DT will be frightening for opposing offenses. It would move the Lions from laughing-stock to fully-stocked at LB as one of the best trios in the league. And for what they would be paying for it, it darn well better be!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

What REALLY Wins Championships?

So does Defense really win championships? As Lions fans debate OT vs QB vs LB at the top of the draft, and with multitudes of Detroit Lions fans clamoring for a defense only draft, the question comes in to top focus.

What better way to do that, then to look at the past 7 Superbowls, and see where each team (the winner an loser) ranked in regards to Offense and Defense. The defensive rating is based on points allowed (fewer points allowed, fewer points needed to win), and points per game for the offensive side (more points scored, more points defense can allow and still win).

[thanks to RedZone on Mlive Lions Forum for the research]

If we look at both teams the average range for offense is 8.0 and defense is 7.6. If we look at winners and losers then the average offensive range for winners is 11.3 and defensive rank is 6.6. The average ranking for the SB losers is 4.9 on offense and 8.6 on defense.

The stats are all from the regular season, and the winning team is listed first with Offense Rank [O] and Defense Rank [D] in parenthesis following.

2008(regular season year): Pittsburgh O(20th), D(1st); Arizona O(3rd), D(28th)
2007: Giants O(14th) D(17th); New England O (1st) D (4th)
2006: Indy O(2nd) D(23rd); Chicago O(2nd) D(3rd)
2005: Pittsburgh O(9th) D(3rd); Seattle O(1st) D(7th)
2004: New England O(4th) D(2nd); Philly O(8th) D(2nd)
2003: New England O(12th) D(1st); Carolina O(15th) D(10th)
2002: Tampa O(18th) D(1st); Oakland O(2nd) D(6th)

If you look at this chart, a couple of things stick out. the most glaring is that other than Indy and Giants the team that won the Super Bowl either had the 1st, 2nd or 3rd ranked defense.

2003 and 2004 are the only two years where one of the top 3 ranked offenses didn't make it to the Superbowl -- and in 2004 NE was 4th.

So when you are looking at the numbers, having a top 3 defense or offense will give you roughly a 30% (slightly less than one in 3 chance) or going to the Superbowl. However, to win the Superbowl, having the top 3 defense led to a win 5 of 7 times.

Take from this what you will -- I'm sure Lions fans would be happy to make the playoffs, much less the Superbowl. However, since I'm sure that at least getting there is the goal of the new Lions front office, these types of stats will be in the forefront as they are building their team.

One more thing to note: The teams with top offenses seemed to vary in who made it each year, where the teams with top defenses were most likely to make it to the game multiple times if accompanied by just a top 20 offense or better...

My read on this? Offense will get you a championship just as likely as Defense, but defense is more likely to win it. Defense is also more consistent than offense.

So if it were me, I would build a spectacular defense and pair it with an average to above average offense. Because as this history shows, not only is that the way to get to the Superbowl, it's the most probable way to win it. Isn't Schwartz a real numbers guy? Makes you wonder...

What are your thoughts on this? And don't forget to do your mock drafts as well -- PLEASE put them on the mock draft article as I don't want mock drafts cluttering every article for the next three weeks. I will be linking to it on the sidebar soon, if not already.

Also, I will begin posting the mailbag answers tomorrow (Friday) morning. They were all pretty in-depth questions, so I will do a short piece on one or two at a time, and spread them out over the Easter weekend.

Keep Emailing them in -- I will be interspersing them into the blogging as we go along. Also, best to email them to me versus posting them in comments -- then I can put my thoughts out there, and garner all the reader thoughts at the same time versus being somewhat spread out over several stories. (I'm referring to mailbag style questions. Please keep up the usual back and forth relating to each story, events in the comments as we have been. The intelligent comments and dialogue is what I want to encourage and maintain on this site.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mock Draft Scenario #1: Current Picks

As Nubs pointed out, it's about time to start out with the mock draft competition this year (before they sign the first pick)!

Just like last year, we will go through Round 3. Rather than just listing names, try to give a reason for who you chose, and why. For instance, indicate that you liked a different player more but think they will be gone.

To help out this year, I have LionHawkeye's list of players that visited the Lions, and a general slotting of rounds. One I disagree with on the list is Ziggy Hood, DT who I think will go in the first due to a lack of run-stuffing DT's.

Also, as you are looking over the picks and projections -- remember this overall failure rate (numbers are general, and no I don't have the math sourcing -- but it looked about right and I trust LionHawkeye's math on this.)

Success Rate of Draftees:

Now look at salaries for each round, and that is why, its not just QB though!

Aaron Curry LB Wake forest
Michael Crabtree WR Texas Tech
Jason Smith OT Baylor
BJ Raji DT Boston College
Eugene Monroe OT Virginia
Brian Orakpo DE/OLB Texas
Matt Stafford QB Georgia
Mark Sanchez QB USC
Malcolm Jenkins CB OSU
Aaron Maybin DE PSU
Andre Smith LT Alabama
Brian Cushing OLB USC
Brandon Pettigrew TE Oklahoma State
Everette Brown DE Fla St
Clay Matthews OLB USC
Rey Maualuga ILB USC
Louis Delmas SS Western Michighan
James Laurenitus LB OSU
Alphonso Smith CB Wake forest
Ebbon Britton OT Zona
Jared Cook TE South Carolina
Ron Brace DT Boston College
Conner Barwin DE Cinncinati
Alex Mack C Cal
Josh Freeman QB KSU
Michael Johnson DE Georgia Tech
Sean Smith CB Utah
Evander Hood DT Missouri
Jasper Brinkley ILB South Carolina
William Moore SS Missouri
S'endrick Marks DE Auburn
Derrick Williams WR PSU
Duke Robinson OG Oklahoma
Phil Loadholt OT Oklahoma
Chase Coffman TE Missouri
Pat White QB WVU
Travis Beckum TE Wisconsin
Marcus Freeman LB OSU
Tyronne Mckensie ILB USF
Mohammed Massaquoi WR Georgia
Tyronne Greene OG Auburn
Jon Cooper C Oklahoma
Donald Washington CB OSU
Demetrius Byrd WR LSU
Jason Phillips ILB TCU
Roy Miller DT Texas
Daniel Holtzclaw ILB EMU
Seth Olsen OL Iowa
DeAngelo Willingham CB Tennesee
Pannel Egboh DE Stanford
Mortty Ivy OLB WVU
Jerraud Powers CB Auburn
Ellis Lankster CB WVU
Greg Isdaner OG WVU
Nick Hennessey OL Colgate
Brandon Walker OG Oklahoma
Steven Hodge SS TCU
Tristan Davis RS Auburn
Bradley Fletcher CB Iowa
Johnny Knox WR Abeline Christian
Jacob Wyatt SS EMU
Brice McCain CB/RS Utah
Alex Fletcher C Stanford

Post your mock draft in the comments here -- after the draft, I'll go back and see how we did!

The picks are:


The problem I have had this year is that what the Lions end up doing at #1 overall very much impacts what happens later in the draft. Don't blow up or think I"m waffling, but I will give two scenarios: What I think the Lions will do, and what I would like them to do. Feel free to do the same!

What the Lions will Do?:

#1. Matthew Stafford: If Linehan and Schwartz are sold on him having the ability to be at worst an above average QB they will take him. While as I said he won't start til likely a fair amount into the season depending on Culpepper's play, they will be able to season him and have a veteran in place for when the rest of the team is on track.

#20. Evander "Ziggy" Hood, DT: The Lions have needs all over, but a young run stuffer is a very large one. Choen and Fluellen are possibilities for DT, but neither has the bulk or style to be a big run stopper -- Jackson will need to be rotated heavily, and will be gone in a season or two. Hood will provide for having his replacement on the roster, as well as filling out the DT rotation for the Lions. They can use a future pick for the 4th DT (assuming Hood, Fluellen, and Cohen stick) after Jackson is gone.

#33. Clint Stintim, ILB: Some may call this a bit of a reach, but from what I've read Stintim is teh next best 3 down LB propect after Cushing and Curry. Laurinitis and Maulugala are considered 2 down MLB. Laurinitis is a liability in coverage, and would do nothing for the 3rd down D and Rey is widely considered to have had his flaws masked in a loaded USC D. Stintim has size and speed -- while not close to Curry level, he still has potential to be a long term starter in the middle for many years.

#65. William Moore, SS: Alexander is healing slowly -- but will he ever return to his rookie year level? Bullocks is a solid starter on one side -- but the other side is more in flux. Alexander had a good rookie year, but was struggling before his inury(who wasn't, though?). Pearson showed he is a solid backup and ST player, but not a starting S. Henry may move to S if they go with a CB, but this is a weak CB class. At #65 he can start out rotating in if Henry moves to S, or starting day 1 if he doesn't. Either way, if Alexander recovers the Lions have 3 good young S. If not, they are protected by still having two good young starters.

#82. Travis Beckum, TE: He is a pass catching TE, and that is a position that is featured quite often in lieu of a 3rd slot WR in Linehan's offenses. They can stay back an block, or head out for a pass. Linehan loves to use 2 TE, 2 WR, 1 RB sets where the defense can't tell if it's run or pass. Gaines is a servicable TE, and was decent catching the ball if he can get over his case of fumbilitis from last season. Having Beckum gives them another weapon in the offense to draw pressure off of both Kevin Smith and CJ through various means -- which will also help out their rookie QB.

My Lions Draft (what I would do):

#1. Aaron Curry, LB: Inside, outside, good in coverage, big enough to stop the run, great at shedding blocks, played on and off the line... Curry could be the next Ray Lewis (and you guys know I don't often do the whole comparison thing) or even more -- He would be a very versatile weapon on the field, and unlike many I think Peterson has more than a couple years left. A telling thing is where earlier this week he said that while he wouldn't have done a pay cut with Seattle (he is one of the top LB in the game), he would have been willing to restructure to help out the team (convert pay to SB, sign an extension, etc.). This tells me that if he contiues to play at a pro-bowl level, he could be a fixture for the Lions longer than some anticipate. Sims-Curry-Peterson would be an expensive -- but fearsome -- LB corps. And would be set for at least 5 years.

#20. Ziggy Hood, DT: See Above.

#33. Alex Mack, OG/C: I know that I've said Loper and Peterman are strong at OG - but who will back them up other than the unproven Man-Ram? Mack should be able to unseat either Loper or Peterman this year, and also provides leverage for the Lions in talks with Raiola. If Mack plays center well enough, you could even see the Lions trading Raiola next ifseason (after franchising him, then getting a mid-2nd rounder). A stretch? Not really -- Raiola is highly regarded around the league and it woudl give the Lions many options and at worst strong depth/talent at OG and a backup C -- negating a need to carry an additonal lineman. With the top two picks going D -- and no S or CB I really like here, this pick seemed to really fit. Alphonso Smith, CB and Delmas, S were also considerations.

#65. William Moore, SS: See Above.

#82. Pat White, QB: Yes, this is a big leap/jump. However, I like the kid's moxie, and he has the intelligence and paitence to make it as an NFL starter. He doesn't have a howitzer arm -- more of a rifle. But he doesn't have a tendancy to force the ball, and could be used with the otehr QB's in wildcat type formations. If he doesn't work as a QB, he would still be useful as a returner and possibly WR or RB -- and one who could throw off a reverse or handoff. He is a multi-faceted player that I am sure Linehan would find a way to utilize. Him and Stanton could battle it out to see who gets teh Future QB mantle, and if neither one does then Stanton gets cut and White will be an excellent Josh Cribbs multi-faceted threat and the Lions can go in another direction at QB.

So there you have my two mocks. What are your thoughts? Your Picks? It is a wide open year, so I expect a lot more variation than last year.

Is it April 25th yet?? (note: my spell check wasn't working tonight, so I may have to correct some minor errors later, but will not change content of the post.)

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Hey there all! Church of Schwartz will not be doing the usual Q&A this week with Easter weekend coming up. However, I'd love to answer some questions that you may have -- whether it is my thoughts on a position group, player, scenario in the draft, free agency, etc.

So fire away and EMAIL me the questions -- I'll try to answer as many as I can and post them up on Thursday morning.

Also, start setting your draft boards!! The annual DetFan1979 Lions Mocks will be commencing soon -- possibly as early as tomorrow! Just like last year, we will submit what we think the Lions will do in rounds 1-3 with the picks as they are. Also, a 1a draft that is the way we would do it.

I'll come up with a couple of scenarios for plausible trades like last year, and we'll work those as well in the next couple of weeks.

Remember, EMAIL those questions and I'll see what I can do.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Diamond-Plated Ginsu...

John Niyo of the Detroit News has the attitude right about the Lions' involvement with the Jay Cutler auction. Drew Sharp does not. (No link on purpose. Don't bother reading it.)

Have any of you ever been to an auction, or got into one online? There is a reason Ebay is popular. "It's better when you win it." was their slogan on some TV ads a couple years back. What happens in an auction for something you want, is that the price starts out at nothing - or close to it. In this case for the Lions, it started out at #33 for Cassel and swap him to Denver for one more pick, and get a lower one in return.

But, what happens as the deal making time gets closer, and more people get involved? It becomes more about winning than cost. What started out as buying for need at a reasonable price, turns into need to beat the other guy or I "lost". Denver wanted that to happen, and when Dan Snyder jumped into the fray, I knew the Lions should be jumping out.

I saw one article indicating that Jerry Angelo looked "stunned". He should be -- wait til he looks at his draft board, and needs, and then goes "what have I done!" like a guy coming off a bender looking at the divorce attorney's bill, his little studio apartment and his empty bank account.

Don't get me wrong -- this deal was all wrong for the Lions and a Vegas-Style roll of the dice for Da Bears.

I had a friend back in 2004 who was just settling into a new position. If all went well, he would be moving on to a new position -- out of state -- in about 3 years or so. The company didn't have moving incentives, so he considered selling his house and renting a condo for a few years. Instead, he took out an interest only mortgage on his house that would go for 5 years at which point his payments would go way up. Not only that, but anticipating his higher income in advance, and wanting to upgrade his lifestyle now, he took out as much cash as they would let him and used it to "live tomorrow today."

Come last year, he finally got his promotion... had the markets held out, and kept rising like they were, he would have been in a great position to sell his house for a profit after only making interest payments the last 4 years. They didn't. He can't sell, and is stuck with huge payments, and a house he can't do anything with -- making him cut back to a pretty severe lifestyle despite his increased pay. And to top it all off, he can't even unload the house because he doesn't have enough money saved, and if he does manage to take the loss it can't affect his credit as losing his house would put his job in jeopardy. He gambled, and lost.

Jerry Angelo is making the same kind of gamble with the Bears. He traded two firsts, a third, and his starting QB, for Cutler. (I know they got a 5th in return, but 5th rounders are projects - early 3rds are supposed to be starters. Big difference.) Same day, he signed Orlando Pace to a 3 year deal and hopes he has some left in the tank.

Chicago's defense is aging, but their lack of offense cost them the Superbowl in 2006, and has kept them down since. Angelo is gambling that with adding Cutler to Greg Olson, Matt Forte, Devin Hester, and the 2nd round WR they may take this year, his offense will be potent enough to offset the decline in the Bears D and get them to a Superbowl Run. If the Defense (the housing market) holds on for a couple more years, then the Bears have a legitimate chance to make a run now. If it doesn't hold up, well... there isn't a lot they can do to help it for 2009 or 2010.

The other gamble is Cutler didn't sign a new contract, and that conversation will be coming very soon to the normally tight-fisted Bears. If they don't budge on a new deal (and most likely making him the highest paid QB) it could really be a 3 year interest only loan...

For a team in Chicago's position, I think it was a good gamble for them to take -- and Bears fans I've talked with are excited about the acquisition and possibility it brings.

Question: Did Detroit "lose out"? Answer: No. We talked about whether or not you needed that special knife to QB your kitchen...and this deal went beyond Ginsu to Diamond Encrusted Collector's Edition territory. For a team on the edge of a Superbowl Run who just needs the QB -- Great move. For a team that needs about 15 starters to get to a playoff level...not so much.

Mayhew did the right thing by not doing anything in this instance. The team I think "lost out?"

The Minnesota Vikings. If any team could be said to be one QB away from the Superbowl, it is Minnesota. They have a solid defense. They have a monster running game. They have a terrific O-Line. They have a solid, if unspectacular WR corps/pass catching TE. What they don't have? A QB who can open up the box for Adrian Peterson.

Would you be able to play 8 - 9 in the box to stop Peterson when Cutler is shooting laser guided bombs to Bernard Berrian or Sidney Rice streaking down the sidelines? No. It would have been back to the big scoring offenses of the late 90's for Minnesota, paired with an actual defense.

They are in a win-now need a QB position, and if anyone was to give up 2 firsts and maybe even a 2nd and a 3rd next year -- it would have been Minnesota.

Lions Fans -- we need volume of quality players first, not one pro-bowler. This is a 3-4 year rebuild due to a total lack of talent and depth up and down the roster. As a fan of the Lions I am happy we didn't give up 5 starters (4 early picks and a starter off the roster -- we would have had to beat Chicago's deal, not tie it) to get one --- even if it was a QB.

As a Vikings fan? Well, lets just say if my name were their coach and/or GM I would be praying like mad Sage Rosenfels or T-Jack work out. Because after passing on Cutler, if they don't, they should be looking for work.

If you didn't read all 20+ comments on last story, please go back and do so. Some great stuff in there!! Including my vote for the Lions' first two picks:

  1. 1st (#1 overall) - Aaron Curry MLB Wake Forest
  2. 1st - (#20 overall) Evander Hood DT Missouri

Church of Schwartz Weekly Q&A

(find all complete answers from the full panel here.)

1. If Matthew Stafford is our pick at 1.1, how many games does Daunte Culpepper start next season?

Way too early for me to answer this question. Can Stafford step right in? I’m not so sure of that. How dedicated is Culpepper, really, at this point? He played his best under Linehan and seems very motivated to take advantage of the opportunity he has stumbled into in Detroit to possibly get back into the League again and attempt to recapture his fallen star. But I think that the coaching staff is just as clueless as we are when it comes to who will start how many games. My hunch says that unless the Lions are playoff bound, Culpepper starts out the year, and then Stafford takes over after week 8 if the Lions aren’t in the thick of the hunt. They may even wait til mathematically eliminated – which wouldn’t be any sooner than week 7 even if they went winless. So my gut says final answer: Daunte starts 10 games, Stafford 6.

2. If Jason Smith/Eugene Monroe is our pick at 1.1, where does Jeff Backus play next year?

Someplace else. Despite the talk of moving Jeff to OG, lets face it: he has always been an emotional player and I’m not sure if he could mentally and physically play OG at a higher level than either Daniel Loper or Stephen Peterman, whom I have penciled in as starters at LG and RG respectively. What to really do with Backus is why I don’t think OT is on the top of the Lions’ priority list, despite what many fans feel. If he doesn’t beat out Loper and Peterman at OG, or the rookie at OT (I can’t see them sliding him to the right and benching Cherilus) then he is a very expensive backup. Assuming they pick either Smith or Monroe, I look at them to move Backus for likely an additional 3rd rounder draft day to a team that loses out on one of the top young OT’s. There are, sadly enough, plenty of teams for whom Backus would be an upgrade at tackle. The only thing I don’t like about taking an OT this year is that you are upgrading a position that is filled with an average player right now, versus one of the roster spots that is essentially empty.

3. If you could bring back any former Lion (not named Barry Sanders) to be a part of this team, who and why?

This is a really tough one – but I’d have to go with Chris Spielmen or Robert Porcher. MLB and a dominant DE are things the Lions haven’t had since either of those men took the field for the Lions – and both would immediately upgrade the team.