Thursday, January 14, 2010

Not Suh Fast

Not Suh Fast

January 14th, 2010 | by detfan1979 |

I know a lot of draft talk is getting started, and my urge is also to dive right in. However, I get this feeling the “what will the Rams do at one?” will certainly be raging right up until the point they are hopefully competent enough to get someone signed prior to the draft. It ain’t over ’til its over — and as this article form the Turf-Show-Times shows, there is debate as to which way to go even among Rams fans. Suh is not a slam dunk number one pick…or even number two!

I suggest reading the large number of comments on the last blog entry — they are insightful and very relevant to this ifseason. The biggest factor brought up and to keep in mind is that Martin Mayhew is not Matt Millen. I know, I know, this is quite shocking. It is still too early to judge whether he will end up being “good” or not, but he is certainly different. He said from the time he took over, to the time the draft started, to after it was over: We are taking the “best player available.”

Before we get into tired old jokes like “what if it is a WR” and “how can the team have an identity that way?” lets reminisce on last year’s draft a bit, and some Millen draft situations as well. While most pundits and prognosticators were focusing on “need” — and predicting Millen style reaches for such — he instead went with the BPA. Best Player Available. Take another read onNetRat’s column that outlines this concept in detail, as well as my own 2009 post draft piece from (Yes I know NetRat’s column is posted verbatim there with important points boldedand underlined. I linked both on purpose. The concept isn’t easy to grasp, and even harder to predict.)

Right now 80 – 90% of Lions fans are still talking about “needs”. OG is a need. CB is a need (2 of them). S is a need (1 of them). Dline — particularly DT and 2 DE’s. RB possibly with Kevin Smith’s injury. WR #2 and #3. Blocking TE. Did I mention OG? LB could be. When talking “need” we are talking free agency, in my mind, for the most part. Mayhew’s strategy is to get a body in place to “fill” every need with the best value stop-gap out there. Then, come draft time, he goes BPA-FN (including some trades back), and stocks more and more “talent behind talent” as Jim Schwartz puts it. In 3 or 4 years, you have a team that is talented from starters to special teamers. But it takes time. Especially at the point (as I illustrated a couple of days ago) the Lions were at talent wise.

I’ll say this again with a couple of illustrations that came to light after Millen was no longer with the Lions: Mooch point blank does not want Mike Williams. Lions have Demarcus Ware and Shawne Merriman rated higher by the scouts. Matt Millen takes Williams — over the rankings of his scouts, and the objections of his hand picked coach!

Illustration 2: Millen calls Ray Rice and tells him that he is going to be the Lions’ pick in round 2. They take Jordan Dizon instead because they “needed” a LB, despite a shallow LB class with no other really taken until into the 3rd that year.

So when talking about Martin Mayhew, and the fact that he worked for Millen, keep in mind that Matt Millen picked who Matt Millen wanted and that was that. He also traded up to get those guys — so he would sacrifice two lower round picks for an IAF, as an example. His drafts got high grades because he “filled needs”. Mayhew did not because he filled talent. Take a second and think about that — a draft is considered a “bust” for the Lions and many fans last year because he “didn’t fill needs.” Yet, with the exception of D. Williams (no more WR named Williams, OK? Never seems to work out for the Lions…) he upgraded the talent level of the team right on down to Follett in the 7th.

What I’m getting at is, I look at the ifseason this year in two ways:

  1. Free Agency is where “need” reigns supreme. They will target free agents who fill needs. Pretty soon, I’ll start profiling some potential free agents I think they may target, or would like to see them target. “Need” will dictate who they talk to, and severity of “need” coupled with available solutions and talent level/age of the individual free agent will determine what Mayhew is willing to shell out. One guy is not going to push the team over the hump in the playoffs. However, a guy who can be more than a simple 1 – 2 year bandaid could get a sweet deal from the Lions if they can land him…
  2. The Draft is where “talent” reigns supreme. They will pick the best player available that fits any need, or trade back. Mayhew would rather trade back 10 spots for “less than market value” and get a guy where they had him targeted for need/value AND get an additional pick than he would reach for a player. Remember that 10 number — if a player is more than 10 spots out, they WILL NOT reach for them. The closer to 10 spots out they are, the more likely a trade — especially if two guys are rated similar and they are relatively sure one will be there when they pick.

So as debate rages about Suh, Clausen, trade rumors fly, we look at Berry and McCoy — as Free Agency moves toward its frenzied start and we start to evaluate guys like Amano and Kampman — keep these two points in the back of your mind. He will take talent over a “bigger” need in the draft. Mayhew isn’t going to over-pay for aging talent. He will take a young guy with upside over a veteran who is declining right now. They need the youngsters to learn, and to try to find some “upside” guys to build this roster long term, because even with a great draft they are still a year or more away. Pray for Labor peace in 2011 — that is about the time they should be getting really competitive!!

Rating: 10.0/10 (12 votes cast)
Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • E-mail this story to a friend!
  • NewsVine
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis

Tags: , , , , ,

12 Responses to “Not Suh Fast”

  1. By Motownmann on Jan 15, 2010

    I cannot agree with you more. BPA is the only way to go when you are in the situation the Lions find themselves in. Unfortunately or fortunately…depending on how you look at it, for the next couple of drafts, BPA’s will be starting immediately because of the number of mediocre players…Go Lions!

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  2. By mrdithers on Jan 15, 2010

    Excellent article. Insightful. You can spell out the detail concisely and entertainingly. I appreciate the Lions news as it has become a year around event.

    FA for need, draft for talent…pretty simple.

    I look forward to seeing what this front office pulls off and to further blog pieces here.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  3. By J Ellet Lambie on Jan 15, 2010

    Great work as always. There is still so much time before the draft, including the combine, which tends to re-shuffle the board quite a bit. I also see Mayhew as a talent first kind of guy, only time will tell if he makes the right decision – time and the proper support to go with the first pick.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  4. By Lopper on Jan 15, 2010

    Great article. I certainly wouldn’t be upset with another draft like last years. Last years draft is really the only thing that gives some hope seeing that more than half the core group of long term keepers is from that draft.
    As far as FA, I agree that the Lions need to target for need. I’d like to see them get a better #2 receiver even if they had to spend a little money to do it.
    I also wonder if they are going to target Kampman or Vanden Bosch and if they are, which one of the two they would prefer.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  5. By KCLionFan on Jan 15, 2010

    Absolutely go for talent! If by some miracle, the Lions have too much talent at a given position, then they can…..(wait for it)……be in a position to TRADE for value. Wow, what a concept!

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  6. By Undies on Jan 15, 2010

    Great entry. But a BPA philosophy only brings the Lions into the modern era, and Mayhew needs to get ahead of the curve. Which leads me to…


    The 2010 Draft provides the Lions’ GM with a golden opportunity to get in front of a trend, and start making up ground on the rest of the NFL. The threat of a lockout in 2011 has the 2010 draft on pace to contain a record number of underclassmen, turning any already strong draft into a potential bonanza. Adding even 1 pick in the top 50, or 2 in the top 100, would be huge. However, the key for Mayhew will be trusting the stats which clearly demonstrate trading out of the #2 slot is a virtue unto itself. At worst, it’s a straight salary dump. If Mayhew gets hung up on whether the Lions are getting proper “value” in return (and God help him if Suh is there), its simply another mile to run on familiar treadmill for Lions fans.

    I. Will Marty show some guts?
    II. Being forced to select high in round 1 during the 2000’s set the table 0-16
    III. CJ was a rare exception
    IV. Lets get off this treadmill starting now
    V. Suh and McCoy aren’t great fits for Jim’s defense
    VI. 2010 Draft won’t come again soon


    Football types have a weird relationship to statistics. In some instances they fall in love with the numbers. In others, there is a defiance that their accrued wisdom allows them to know better than the odds. Such is the case with the NFL draft. The stats tell us that the return on investment for high first round picks falls somewhere between catastrophic and passable. Yet the vast majority of NFL GM’s continue grossly overvaluing first rounders. Does Mayhew have what it takes to be a maverick? If so, 2010 is a golden opportunity to fleece those execs who are slow on the uptake.

    Many, if not most NFL teams, still evaluate draft trades using an arcane ‘point’ system that: a) fails to account for such variables as the drafts’ strength at the top, strength/depth at positions of scarcity in the NFL, and overall depth; b) in a salary cap world, fails to account for the staggering cap implications of drafting at the top of Rd 1; and therefore, c) grossly overvalues high first round picks.

    The ‘point’ chart says that the top overall pick is worth 3,000 points, whereas the 33rd overall pick (top of Rd 2) is worth 580. So the top pick is worth 5 top second rounders?

    To the contrary, the Massey/Thayler study linked below reveals the top overall pick as the worst ‘value’ in the first round, and high second round picks to have the most value in the entire draft.


    If you want to know how its possible to go 0-16, start with all the high 1st rounders the Lions have had in this decade. Doesn’t make sense does it.

    The Massey/Thayler study rated draft picks by performance in their first 5 years, measured against the average performance of a player at the same position who earns approximately the same salary. Three of their findings really stand out:1) the best value in the draft is at the top of the 2nd round; 2) a first round pick has an 8% chance of washing out of the league, an 8% chance of never starting a game, and only a 9% chance of making one pro bowl; and 3) higher draft picks perform better than lower ones, but performance drops off much more slowly than player compensation.

    Last year’s Lions draft is a perfect example. I wasn’t convinced that Stafford was the best overall prospect in last year’s draft, but he was the only choice the Lions could make. The salary cap hit from Stafford’s deal was roughly equivalent to that of Eli Manning, who had just been made the highest paid QB in the game coming off his super bowl win. But QB is one of the handful of positions on football team where it makes sense to allocate such a large percentage of the cap. If Stafford busts out its wasted money just like another other bust. If he turns into a playoff caliber QB, his cap figure will be a reasonable expenditure.

    Conversely, you can’t wrap up Eli Manning-type of dough in a strong side backer like Curry. Even on a championship caliber team, the entire starting LB unit shouldn’t have the cap number Curry would have carried as the number 1 overall pick.

    QB’s have more bust potential than any other position. But in the NFL system, your have to roll the dice on a Stafford panning out, versus the financial wreckage created by drafting a Curry #1 overall and making him among the highest paid defensive players in the NFL from Day 1, esp when the odds of making even a singled pro bowl are doubled by the odds that he doesn’t become a starting caliber player.


    So, what happens if the Lions pass on a Suh/McCoy and they turn out to be Calvin Johnson-like supermen?

    This is the type of thinking that cripples the franchise. Millen gets drilled for his first round selections these days, but it took until the Mike Williams pick was an official bust to reach that point. Why? Because Millen wasn’t the Al Davis of his time, repeatedly making head scratching 1st round picks. EVERYONE turned out to be wrong about most of his first round picks.

    Take a look:

    Joey was top 3 prospect on every expert’s “big board” and the Lions needed a QB. Done.

    Charles Rogers was a hands down, consensus, top 2 overall prospect at a position of need (Oh to have picked #3 in the draft and ‘settled’ for Andre Johnson). Done.

    Roy Williams was universally regarded as a top 10 prospect and picked #7. The Lions had other needs, specifically on the OL, but none of the remaining OTs were worthy of the overall #7, and Roy was part of a plan to give Joey the weapons he needed. The ‘expert’ reaction was universally positive. Done.

    People forget this now but Mike Williams was one of the most intriguing players in his draft. He was the #1 player on Kiper’s board. Chuck Rogers had been hurt for 2 straight years. I loved the pick. Williams was a monster at ‘SC. The “you don’t select 3 Wrs in a row” argument was stupid. If he’s the BPA at a position of need (and at the time there was more trouble with Chuck than the average fan knew) you do it. Today, looking at the next three picks in that draft will make you want to puke. Ware, Merriman, Jammal Brown. But at the time? Ware and Merriman were only considered great fits for a 3-4 defense, and Jammal Brown was a RT and you’re not supposed to take those that high. The pick was considered risky by most experts, but it wasn’t a Hayword-Bey over Crabtree call on Millen’s part. And at the time the most preferred alternative to Williams was Derrick Johnson. Don’t know if that wouldn’t have exactly changed the course of the franchise.

    Obviously, Lions got royally screwed by having to pay the #2, #2, #7, #10, and #2 overall picks in this decade and getting next to nothing from 4 of them – that’s not my point.

    What’s relevant here is that like Suh/McCoy, those picks (Mike W. excluded) were no-brainers.

    How much heat will Mayhew take if he selects one of those two and they bust out? Little. How much if he trades down and the guy he left is a perennial pro bowler?

    If that thought process creeps in for even an instant, look back at those statistics. 9% chance Suh makes one pro bowl. 8% chance he doesn’t become a regular starter. 8% chance he totally busts out. 100% chance he eats up a shit-ton of salary cap space.


    The #2 pick must be a perennial pro bowler to justify his salary. He’s twice as likely not to make it as a starter. What about the in between? I don’t mean to cherry pick examples, but Reggie Bush is a great illustration. He was “can’t miss” to the point where Williams over Bush was like Buster-over-Tyson. Had Bush been the #1 overall pick he’d be remembered as a bust. Instead, he’s just a grossly overpaid role player on a good team… when he’s not injured.

    If your Mayhew, don’t you have to do something drastic? Revolutionary? Lots of people believe he’s just keeping the seat warm anyway. Standing pat at #2 won’t change that. But if he can trade down into the teens-twenties, swindle a couple picks in the top 100 of a loaded draft, and hit on his picks at a rate similar to 2009? Now he’s making a name for himself.


    If the Lions get stuck at #2 you’ve got to take one of those two guys and work the defense around them. Unless you think Hadden or Berry are really special. Which they may be. Both Suh and McCoy are penetrating DT. They aren’t undersized but they aren’t the cloggers Jim would draw up. The Suh/McCoy – Hill tandem wouldn’t be ideal.

    Terrance Cody out of ‘Bama is a prototype DT prospect for Jim’s defense. 6′5, 365. Brings a nasty streak that I don’t see in Suh and McCoy and that the Lions sorely need on defense. Cody can hold the point, move the LOS, and has the type of athleticism required of a great DT – the ability to make a sudden lateral movement to disengaged from blockers and get in the way of a running back. He has some red flags including academic issues and weight issues, and he may never be more than a two down player. In other words he’s not a sure thing (tongue now planted in cheek). He’s also rated by most in the mid-20s of the first round.

    Which leads to nicely to my next point


    -I don’t know how the uncapped year will affect signability, salary, and hold-outs from 2010 draft picks. It does stand to reason that it will jack the cost of the 2010 #2 pick significantly beyond natural year-to-year inflation. So it’ll be that much tougher to get an acceptable return on investment from this year’s #2 overall if the Lions can’t/don’t trade.

    -We’re on pace to break the record for underclassman entries for this year’s draft. It is extremely deep with talent. In this particular draft, in addition to the salary dump of trading back into the teens, even 1 additional pick in this year’s top 75 gives the Lions an excellent crack at a starting player.

    -The Lions may finally have a high pick that generates trade buzz. If the Rams pull a Texans taking Mario Williams, the Lions are sitting on a gold mine. McCoy may quietly rate as high as Suh on some team’s boards. Guys like Hadden and Berry are talents teams may envision taking them over the top. Its possible a QB needing team will see Cleveland as a threat to their choice and want to hop over. Hopefully, one or two other players will explode after the senior bowl and combine.

    -This draft is super deep with blue-chip DE prospects, and complete DEs are one of the scarcer commodities in the NFL. Maybin was the #11 overall pick last year. He would probably rate as the 6-8 best DE prospect in this draft. Brandon Graham is generally considered the 2-5 prospect and a fringe 1st rounder. Its comical how much better of a prospect BG is than Maybin was, and BG might be there for the Lions in Round 2.

    DE is #1 on my draft wish list because of the overall impact they can have on a defense*. Pressure from the DEs currently on the roster has been pathetic. Given the depth at the position this year, I’d love to see the Lions trade back and take a DE in the 1st and 2nd round.

    -The Lions have a great head start in this draft by picking high in each round. Mayhew wouldbe wise to put on the afterburners and acquire more picks in the top 100. Prime ammunition would be the 2011 1st rounder. This draft is replete with prospects like McKnight and Benn who’d be high 1st rounders next year that are likely to slide way down. Get ‘em now. Next years draft will be ugly anyway.

    *Killer had a nice theory on why the Lions should have entertained Spiller if they were picking #4. I agree that the run game (and even the threat of one) has more overall impact on a team than just about any other area, and a special back can single-handedly elevate a running game. Joe McKnight is Ex “A” for why this could be such a great draft for the Lions. There are some questions on McKnight that I promise would have been put to rest by another year in college, and that he’d have been a 1st rounder next year. There’s a decent chance McKnight will fall to the middle of Rd 2. There’s going to be lots of first round talent in the middle-bottom of round 2. Can the lions get a pick there? The presence of a McKnight pushes other tantalizing backs like Blount, Best, McClluster, and Noel Devine down a peg. There’s going to be tons of 2nd round talent in the third. Can the Lions add a pick there too?

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  7. By jreffy on Jan 15, 2010

    This is why I love this site. DF1979 and my fellow readers all seem to be rational, logical, and reasonable people. This might be my favorite time of year for reading and commenting.

    I’m just gonna throw some stuff out to you guys and see what sticks.

    So based on NetRat and DF1979’s explanation of the “Best Player Available – For Need” (BPA-FN) Draft strategy, the first thing to do would be list the definite needs for the Lions. I’m only listing the needs that I think will be addressed in the Draft. For example, I don’t think the Lions are going to draft a QB, even though they need a backup. I believe that will be addressed through FA. Here’s what I come up with.

    WR, RB, G, DT, DE, CB

    POSSIBLE NEEDS: (based on FA, and current coaching staff evaluation)
    RB, S, LB, OT

    Now, who the Lions will draft will depend on that “vertical list” that NetRat talks about. The list of the top players in the Draft, regardless of position.

    As much as I LOVE Suh and want to see him in Honolulu Blue on Sundays, I think if he falls to #2, the trade offers are going to be there for Detroit. With the state their team is in now, I think that they cannot afford to pass up a pair of 1st round picks (possibly more) and drop down a couple spots.

    The teams still needs quantity of picks over quality (to a point). Let’s say the Lions make a trade and drop down to mid and late 1st round. With those picks, they are still likely to be able to nab the #1 DB and #1 G in the Draft.

    Oh, and for the record, I’m completely against drafting an RB. I feel it is the easiest position to replace with later draft picks, and also I feel that between Brown and Morris, the Lions will be just fine.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  8. By nocoach on Jan 15, 2010

    I don’t think anybody will trade up to #2, but I do think that our 2nd round and 4th round picks could be really popular trade pieces. teams will have all night before those rounds to fall in love with a player and pull the trigger on a deal.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  9. By mrdithers on Jan 16, 2010

    Undies, thanks for the links. Thoughtful and intriguing ideas, reading and comments on your part. Question about the Massey/Thayler study. To your knowledge, did they account for the early 1st rounders going to win/loss challenged teams? I would think that their performances are linked with their teammates performances, which may skew value.

    The area under the value curve would suggest that picks 20-75 (guessing by the graph and my eyes) are very valuable to a franchise and its success, that may be related to the lighter salaries in great measure.

    Mayhew has shown an ability to make the trade, maybe he’ll pull off one like you advise. We’ll see if there is a willing, or ignorant, partner out there.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  10. By chiefger139 on Jan 16, 2010

    wow the enthesisasim , the drive so many comments that in itself is a good sign-obviously many feel we are actually heading into the right direction-that in itself is a major thing. but surely we are the ones who love this team and will give management the players everyone the edge because we love this team-curious to see what outsiders think -do they still think were bottom dwellers and will be for life or do they see us crawlin out of the bottom and finally becoming a playoff team-notice i dont even mention a superbowl winner -truthfully i was happy before-could beat anyone could lose to anyone but were always in the playoff hunt-millen promised us to take it to the next level a championship!! never happened and a lousy 7-9 season is the closest we came-sad but a playoff team right now is my superbowl-face it even one like houston which came close would satisfy the chief-how many years till were there? I say 2 what do you say? and truthfully a probowler-someone you buy jerseys of because hes the best-maybe stafford and cj will become one but so far no one id even take that! well from your post would say theres great hope were takin a rb always my hope-but this year I say no-morris finally broke a 60 yarder so think he will do-just get us our probowler defensive lineman or cb chief will be happy-also notice chiefs favorite woody is startin with the jets-maybe one step closer to the superbowl-we cut him-got cherlious who is lookin like a bust-should of kept woody anothor lion mistake-signed the wize chief!!

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  11. By JJLions20 on Jan 17, 2010

    Lets talk about NEED first:

    I agree Free Agency is when you address NEED. The lions won’t be over aggresive in the search for Free Agency, but they have to find the starting LG in free agency. The best candidate here may be Logan Mankins of NE. The Patriots drafted two interior lineman last year and may let Mankins go. The lions may have to overpay but they have to finally solidify this position.

    The lions may look at another receiver in FA. Next to QB, the WR position is the next hardest position to learn as a rookie, and the Lions need another WR who can get open, and quickly get on the same page as Stafford.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if a returner isn’t picked up in Free Agency

    Next set of NEEDS is addressing your own FA. I’m a proponent in bringing back both Foote and Peterson. You need to add talent, not get rid of it. If Peterson agrees to less money he will be back because there is no other LB with experience on the strong side. Foote could be the odd man out, but if he decides to take a lesser role and less money, he could be back.
    If we are still talking about need, the Lions need Daniel Bullocks to be healthy and return to be a starting NFL Safety. Keep Ko Simpson in the mix so there is depth at Safety.
    As far as the draft, I’m a proponent of trading out of the #2 pick if you can find a trade partner. I’m also not one that wants two #1 for the overall #2. If you got a #1,2, & 3 for that over all #2 pick, I’d take it if the picks are high enough. Dominant players are found all throughout the draft. You can build the trenches with 2nd and 3rd rounders. You can find another RB or a CB in those rounds. So if the lions came away with a top 15 pick, two #2’a and 2 #3’s, I’d like our chances to address the NEEDS by drafting the BPA that fit’s the systems your running.
    Remember Suh, McCoy, Clausen, & Colt McCoy, may be real needs for team, and willing to move up to get them. Suh and McCoy may rate a lot higher for teams that play a 3-4, or those in a Tampa-2. So moving down and still getting a Terrance Cody may make more sense. The Lions could have him rated higher because of their system then on most teams board.
    What the Lions need is both Clausen and McCoy to shoot up the board, be considered franchise QB’s so they are #1 and #2, and the Rams take one of them. There needs to be lots of debate as to who is better, and a lot of disagreement. Then somebody has to reach to assure the last QB left.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  12. By robert l caster on Jan 31, 2010

    Suh from Nebraska would be the best first pick in the draft and then build around him.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

No comments: