Posted by Adam Kaplan on Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Considering the Lions play in the NFC North I'm actually pretty familiar with the team's strength and weaknesses and what positions they need for the draft. However, a good friend of mine and of the podcast (and the person who suggested these posts), Daniel Bennett, is from the Detroit area and is a huge Lions fan. So I've asked him to guest write the Lions piece (with *maybe* a few edits of my own). And here... we... GO!
Being one of three Lions fans left in the world, Sexy Rexy has asked me to do the draft analysis for Detroit, so I will try not to disappoint. You may think that a franchise that has been rebuilding since 1957, that has not been to the playoffs since 1999, has not had a .500+ season in the last decade, currently holds the NFL consecutive road loss record with 26, and had an 0-16 season may just as well pack it in, but alas, we finally have reason for hope. Two years ago, in the first non- Matt Millen run draft in the past 10 years- the Lions picked what will hopefully be a solid franchise quarterback in Matthew Stafford. Then to follow it up last year the Lions picked up one of the most dominate rookie tackles to ever play the game... Donkey Kong Suh. For the first time in a long time, we Lions fans have hope.
Even with the franchise quarterback out for the season, the Lions were able to scrape together 6 wins (7 if you count that Johnson touchdown in Chicago- and I do), which is Detroit's second highest win total since 1999. This has earned the Lions the 13th pick in the draft, which allows a little breathing space which is needed since the first overall picks the last couple years is starting to really add up.
The offensive skilled positions are pretty much set. Megatron and Nate Burleson both had good years in 2010 and they should only improve in 2010. Adding Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler which the Lions like to run out of a double tight end set adds two more capable receivers and much needed extra protection on the line. The offensive line does need some help, especially on the right side, but again, being able to have two tight ends in to help block makes life a little easier on the quarterback and the running game. Finally, while the Maurice Morris/ Jahvid Best tandem could use some improving, there are many more needs on the other side of the ball that will help bring the Lions up to a contender’s status.
The defense is another story. The defensive line, I would dare to say, is one of the best in the league. Suh had 10 sacks last year as an interior lineman and consistently demanded a double team freeing up Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril, and Corey Williams who combined for another 14 sacks. Pressure was constant on opposing quarterbacks and this caused many rushed passes- which was needed to help compensate for the abysmal secondary.
Any type of screen play, quick pass, or run that made it past the front four went for big yards and typically demanded team tackling since no one player could bring anyone down themselves. Detroit's defense allowed the 8th highest completion percentage, allowing quarterbacks to complete almost 64% of their passes. Quarterbacks also averaged a QB rating of 89.2 against this dreadful defense. At the same time, the defense also only had 14 interceptions this season, one of them being by Donkey Kong, so 13 interceptions by the secondary in 16 games needs to be improved upon. Plus, the NFL rankings and statistics do not even begin to show how bad this secondary is, it is just one of those teams you have to watch to fully appreciate the awfulness.
The back seven was atrocious in 2010 so the Lions are in desperate need of a linebacker, safety, or cornerback. According to Scout's Inc, the best value picks in this area are all defensive lineman or wide receivers- none of which the Lions badly need. Therefore, the best pick available for the Lions is UCLA outside linebacker Akeem Ayers. For the next few rounds the Lions should address their offensive line and secondary needs.
While showing some signs of competence, the linebacker core could not hold their own against lineman or running backs. For this team to become legitimate contenders, an upgrade is necessary.
Again, the pass defense is in the bottom 3rd in the league, and this is in a division that is hard to pass in come November. The defensive secondary needs a serious upgrade.
- Offensive Linemen
Jeff Backus was unanimously named the toughest left tackle in the NFC North by his opposing defensive lineman in his division. Unfortunately, his counterparts on the right side of the line are the reason the Lions are known as the “laydowns”.
Many people think that Stafford’s career is done before it’s even started. I remain on the fence. While he has missed a significant amount of games, it is due to two unrelated injuries and the Lions have too much money invested in him to give up this year. However, if he does not start at least 14 games next season, Andrew Luck may be looking at a career in Detroit.
To end a positive note, it finally looks like our Pontiac pussycats are finally turning back into the Lions that dominated the league in the 50’s.
Game Of Inches Mock Draft (so far):
1) Carolina Panthers- DT Nick Fairley (Auburn)
2) Denver Broncos- DE Da'Quan Bowers (Clemson)
3) Buffalo Bills- CB Patrick Peterson (LSU)
4) Cincinnati Bengals- WR A.J. Green (Georgia)
5) Arizona Cardinals- QB Blaine Gabbert (Missouri)
6) Cleveland Browns- OLB Von Miller (Texas A&M)
7) San Fransisco 49ers- CB Prince Amukamara (Nebraska)
8) Tennessee Titans- QB Cam Newton (Auburn)
9) Dallas Cowboys- DT Marcell Dareus (Alabama)
10) Washington Redskins- DE Robert Quinn (North Carolina)
11) Houston Texans- CB Jimmy Smith (Colorado)
12) Minnesota Vikings- Nate Solder (Colorado)