Blogs > Lions Lowdown

One thing you can count on with the Detroit Lions is that they are never, ever boring. Follow the latest news including injuries, roster moves and more here daily from Oakland Press beat writer Paula Pasche. Plus you'll find regular commentary about the team.

3/07/2009

Assessing the Lions' draft needs

Got asked an interesting question on my last blog post that I figured I'd answer fully here:  What are the Lions' top five draft needs as of today?

This isn't a how-to-draft guide with the Lions having five of the first 82 picks, just what their top needs are as we sit here in the middle of the second wave of free agency. Which direction they go should start to clear up in the coming weeks. Matt Stafford and Aaron Curry have pro days upcoming and both probably will have private workouts with the Lions. Beyond that, there's still a chance the Lions can add a starter or two in free agency, though those ranks have thinned considerably.

1. Quarterback – The Lions have to decide if Stafford (or Mark Sanchez) is a franchise-caliber quarterback. You don't overdraft either because they're quarterbacks, but if the answer on one is yes then that's your No. 1 pick. Regardless, the biggest predictor of success in the NFL is solid play and stability under center, and the Lions don't have that now. Daunte Culpepper is a one-year (at best) solution, and the front office doesn't seem to have much faith in Drew Stanton though he's never seen the field. Regardless, this is the Lions' biggest need.

2. Middle linebacker – If the season started today your starting linebackers would be Ernie Sims, Jordan Dizon and Alex Lewis. Not exactly a fearsome bunch. Rush end is a more important position, but the middle linebacker is the quarterback of the defense and the Lions haven't been above average there in some time.

3. Strong-side linebacker – See above. With the Tampa 2 defense, we've been conditioned to think of the SAM linebacker as the least essential position in the front seven. Truth is, while it's not as singularly important as end or cover corner, a playmaker on the outside can do a lot of things for a defense. Taking into account who the Lions have on their current roster and the potential draft picks available (both Curry and further down the line), this is a position of desperate need.

4. Offensive guard – Even with the signing of guard/tackle Daniel Loper on Friday, the Lions have serious questions on an offensive front that allowed 52 sacks last year. Loper can start at left guard or play a swing position. Jeff Backus can move from tackle to guard if the Lions draft his replacement. I think the best move is to draft an interior lineman at 33, keeping Backus at tackle for another season and using Loper as an all-purpose reserve with the re-signed Damion Cook as a seventh lineman.

5. Cornerback – The Lions addressed this position already this offseason, signing Eric King and Phillip Buchanon and trading for Anthony Henry, but Henry can also play safety and let's not forget Detroit's returning defensive backs had no interceptions last year. More importantly, King, Buchanon and Travis Fisher are the only corners signed beyond this year (each is under contract through 2010), and Fisher will turn 30 in September. The Lions need a young playmaker to anchor their secondary.

Just missing the cut were defensive end and defensive tackle, where the Lions could use upgrades but at least have a capable current rotation, and tight end, where neither Michael Gaines nor Casey FitzSimmons is the type of multi-dimensional threat you'd prefer.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

15 Comments:

Blogger Beth said...

I think it should be noted that its likely Curry can play any LB position. And even if they do stick him at SAM, he would be a 3 down backer because he excells at coverage and with either move over or line up at DE on passing downs.

2:25 PM 
Blogger Bret said...

I think a smart move at #33 would be to pick up Center Mack or Unger, whoever is still available. That covers a need at Guard and Center. Also, that covers Raola not resigning next year.

I know the Lions need defense, but they are in a good position to shore up the offense for years to come by taking a LT and C/G. The defense has some young fellas on the roster that I would like to see have a chance to blossom.

3:10 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bret what young fellas do you think are going to blossom? Aside from Avril and Sims you have no good young talent. Dizon, Fluellen, Cohen, Alama-Franics; none of them have a chance to start for a good team. We have to address the worst defense in NFL histroy. It doesn't matter how good your offense is, if you can't stop the other team you are not going to win. THis is a pretty deep draft in a lot of defensive position, and the Lions could shore up a lot of positions.

4:13 PM 
Anonymous Pig said...

You have to look at this draft with NEXT years draft in mind also because they'll probably have a top 5 pick next year as well:

Either this year or next year they are going to take a QB with their 1st round pick.

Whichever year they DON'T do that, they can choose between the best OT or best overall defensive player.

So the question is, would you rather they take Stafford this year and the best defensive or OT out there next year or Curry this year and either Bradford, McCoy or Tebow next year?

One of those 4 QB's is the next franchise QB for the Lions.

Having Calvin Johnson, the biggest arm of the 4 is really appealing and that is probably Stafford. But Bradford is the most accurate of the bunch. Wherever he wants the ball to be, it gets there.

I think it's safer to go with Curry this year and one of those 3 QB's next year.

That being said, I think Stafford will be a very good NFL QB.

So my feeling is that they can't go wrong with the 1st pick. It will be Curry or Stafford and I thing they'll both be studs.

4:53 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sold on Stafford

Slightly too short, a bit too inaccurate, not as smart as i like QB's to be, and his teams never met expectations.

I think he is getting an artificial boost cause he happens to be the best QB in a terrible year for QBs.

Happens just about every other year that no QB is actually worth number one pick money.

5:00 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bret does make an interesting comment.

It sure looks like there are a ton of OLinemen in the draft this year. Since we have so many needs, do we let the defense stay the same so we can maximize the value of our picks this year? If we are rebuilding, that might be a good way to focus on the team, get a bunch of oline and some defense this year, get defense and QB next.

For all our talk, however, it looks like the front office plans defense heavy this year. Otherwise I would have expected a different FA period. Or at least more LB FA signings.

8:16 AM 
Anonymous Michael Schottey said...

Pig,

I can't agree with your statement although I understand your reasoning. When understanding past drafts, it is useful to compare to other years. However, when drafting, it is unconscionable to draft "with next year" in mind.

Right now, we have no idea what next years class will look like. Injuries, surprise seasons (good and bad), small school prospects etc can all change the look of a future class. If the Lions are impressed with Stafford (I'm not) they draft him compared to other QBs in the class and FA available or likely to be available THIS year.

1:15 PM 
Blogger ArchStanton said...

Needs are ...

QB - but not Stafford .. in his big games this year he was not very good. He would not start next year anyway. The Lions will have a crack at some very good QB's in 2010: bottom line pass, not worth the cash - Curry is a better option

MLB - Curry can handle this, just look up his play on passing downs or short yardage. It really is a no brainer when you consider the return on money invested.

CB - D.J. Moore - a playmaker. Hester type ball skills. Google him ... he may go top 15 though. Unlike Hester, he can actually cover.

OLB - This is a great draft for OLB ... English, Kruger, Matthews, Phillips .. these guys can contribute right away if not start.

TE - Think Vegas at these odds ... go with the best BETS. In round three you may have one excellent TE sitting there: Coffman, Shawn Nelson for example -these guys will play right away - you cannot PASS on a near guaranteed starter in the 3rd round (considering our current TE's - Nelson or Coffman would be a lock).

4:45 PM 
Blogger Ty said...

Dave--

If the pick is Curry, does he stay at Sam, or do you think they move him to the middle?

What do you think of one taking of the centers? I think Alex Mack could play LG right away, and could be groomed to take over for Raiola in a few years . . .

FWIW, I don't think Stafford or Sanchez are anywhere close to being franchise QBs.

Peace
Ty @ The Lions in Winter

5:16 PM 
Blogger Bret said...

I like Curry, but ONLY if he definitely can play MLB. If he can he is worth every penny of #1 money.

I agree with Ty that this years class of Centers needs a closer look. I believe Raiola is entering the final year of his contract.

I really think the Lions need to address one O lineman in this draft, wheather it's a LT or C/G. From there the rest of the draft should be defense.

6:17 PM 
Anonymous Steve said...

I don't see the point of drafting someone first overall only to want them to switch positions. There is a reason Curry played primarily SAM in college. That is the position he is best suited for. If you plan on moving him, just take Stafford.

8:54 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we go with Curry we're probably better off leaving him at OLB and switching to a 3-4.

Then have Curry just Blitz constantly.

9:53 AM 
Anonymous Steve said...

Anon, I agree with you. It seems like the players that we have, we may be better off playing a 3-4. We have a lot of small DLineman, and Hybrids. Avril could play DE or OLB as he did in college, Grady would be a big NT, and Redding would probablu fit better in a 3-4 as well. Although it seems they could switch, I doubt they will.

10:58 AM 
Blogger Bret said...

Steve - You make a very good point with the 3-4 D. I keep forgetting about that possibility because the Lions had such a hard time with defense period, and especially the Tampa 2, that learning anything new could be a very tall order.

My point on Curry at MLB is that I believe the MLB position is the QB of the defense. That position, in my opinion, is worth #1 money. OLB is just not worth that kind of money. If you can give me a good example of a super stud OLB playing in the final year of his rookie contract this year, please do. Remember he has to be worth at least $30M guaranteed.

With that said I absolutely love what I've seen out of Curry and, if I was Mayhew, would do almost anything to see him as a Lion. In a perfect scenario the Lions trade down a couple spots and take him and pick up some more pics. That won't happen this year.

3:38 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

interesting that they're just now bringing in smith AND that he's the only prospect, thus far, to visit the brass at ford field. what do you make of this dave? due diligence or somethin more?

4:18 PM 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home