Gerald McCoy, DT Oklahoma Sooners (Junior)
This pick was, when I looked at the available players, actually easier than I had thought it would be. The Lions have lacked a dominant DT since Shaun Rogers was shipped off for Leigh Bodden and another blown Millen pick. Even then, Rogers was streaky and oft injured. Couple that with a lack of real players at DE since Porcher retired, and you can guess the Lions’ pass rush has done anything BUT rush the opposing QB’s.
That started to change a little bit last season with new coaches, and the new front office bringing in talent. Cliff Avril showed some promise at time at DE, as did Jason Hunter. DeWayne White is a solid DE who couldn’t get over the injury bug yet again. At DT, the Lions had big old Grady Jackson — but they also had the future in Sammie Hill (the 2009 4th rounder out of Stillman). Hill is a big guy, and has already developed from one of the worst first pre-season games I have ever seen into a decent run-stuffer. His continual and consistent improvement on learning how to leverage his size with technique while making the jump from small school to the NFL cannot be understated. He will possibly never develop above the run-stuffing role, but even that would be huge if there were some dominant pass-rushing DT to put next to him…
Enter McCoy. DT is a need, and McCoy fills it. But the Lions don’t draft for need, so I had to be sure and consider the alternatives.
No, you didn’t hear me wrong. Quick detour — I have written about Martin Mayhew and the style of drafting that the Detroit Lions use. I had been struggling to come up with a good acronym until I saw a picture of my nephew and it struck me (basic logo design copyright DC Comics):
The Detroit Lions are going to look at their board in each level of the draft, and take the most talented player that fills ANY need. Period. Now, at the top of the draft for pick number two, we need to look at the next available guys at any position of need and decide if they are more talented than Gerald McCoy.
There were really only three possibilities jumped out at me: Oklahoma OT Russel Okung, Georgia Tech DE Derrick Morgan, and Tennesse S Eric Berry. All three have positives and negatives, and fill needs for Detroit.
Derrick Morgan, DE Georgia Tech: Nothing against Morgan, but I just don’t feel he grades out talent wise on the same level as Berry and McCoy, both on the board in this scenario. Coupled with the WR-Like failure rate of highly-drafted DE’s in recent years, and it just doesn’t feel like he is a guy to take at #2 when he could slide halfway down the round.
Russel Okung, OT Oklahoma: He is the best OT in a generally weak class at the position. While he has talent, Backus is playing the best he has in years, and the LG is more of a priority but none of the OG’s grade out near this high. The Lions want a backup to Backus to groom (since their project OT, Lydon Murtha was swiped by Miami off the practice squad last season) but will likely find that inlater rounds. Okung is good, but not #2 good. Toss in how similarly rated OT’s from last year fared, and it is a fair indication that the Lions will feel they can get a tackle of Okung’s ability in later years lower in the first round. I would hazard a guess they are right.
Eric Berry, S Tennesse: Berry came the closest of any player to being considered by me over McCoy. Both are superb against the run. Berry can drop into coverage well and is a playmaker in the defensive backfield. The problem is, the Lions have one of those: Louis Delmas. This will drop the overall rating of Berry on the Lions’ BATFAN board (albeit, not by much). From a need standpoint, I could talk about the Lions’ Dline taking precedent over the d-backfield, so on and so forth. But priority of need doesn’t apply here — it is about talent and depth at the position. The Lions can get a solid Safety in Rounds 2 or 3 this year thanks to fantastic depth at both that and other defensive positions. The drop-off to the next rated DT’s is much higher. Berry is a playmaker, no doubt. But his BATFAN rating will be lower due to the numerous other options at that position as I outlined a month or so ago.
With no other players really coming close, this left me the easy choice of taking Gerald McCoy at #2. If the Rams do something crazy like take a QB at #1, well…then we see the Lions front office really earn their pay as they have to pick from McCoy and Suh…