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Thoughts About the Detroit Lions Off Season and Adding Safety Erik Coleman via Free Agency

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on February 19, 2011

I know he’s not Atogwe or Asomugha or Sanders but I think the addition of Erik Coleman is a smart and savvy move for our Lions. Coleman isn’t a throw away guy. He was a starter and a decent one at that until he hurt his knee. Once he recovered he had been replaced by a second round pick that was playing well enough to make his contract expendable. I think all Falcons fans seemed pleased to have him as a quality back up at safety and even when he was a back up he managed to be the captain of the special teams unit. To me that shows character. He could have taken it easy or got an attitude about not getting his starting spot back but instead he went out and performed at a high level.

This has been a trend in Detroit, bad character guys have been removed and replaced with guys that are willing to work hard and give their best. Maurice Morris, Stephan Logan, Kyle Van Den Bosch, Ndamukong Suh, and even some lesser known guys like John Wendling have all been sought out because they are professionals and bring character to the team.

Coleman also gives me even more insight into the Lions plan in the secondary. I have a strong feeling that Chris Houston will be back next year with a multi-year deal.Coleman and Houston played together in Atlanta and should be able to play together quite quickly. An upgrade could still be had at the other side but if the season started today with the combination of Nathan Vasher, Alphonso Smith, Prince Miller, Brandon McDonald, and Tye Hill as you rotational corners I think the team’s pass defense would be in better shape than most people give them credit for.

The Lions finished last year as the 16th ranked pass defense in the league. That’s a major improvement over the past years. Especially when you consider the amount of injuries and rotations they made. Remember Jonathan Wade? The starter? Ya, I don’t really either. Both Vasher and Smith played better than I think anyone anticipated. So much is made of continuity and chemistry. This unit should have a chance to gel this off-season. I still think a rookie defensive back is a real possibility in the draft but if they only get another mid round developmental guy like Devon House, Jalil Brown, or Johnny Patrick then I think they will still be in good shape.

I hope they focus more on bringing in two solid line backers. One in the draft, one in free agency, and another late round developmental guy with speed that can be a special teamer. Obviously Von Miller in the first round if he falls. I think he will but not sure if he falls that far. One of my favorites that has gone under the radar somewhat is Chris Carter from Fresno State. He’s played at defensive end but is a true athlete and can make the transition to backer. He’s around 230 pounds which isn’t bad but you’d like to see him around 240-245 in a year or two. If he can keep his speed and athleticism and gain some size in a developmental year then I think he’s a guy that could take over a starting spot inside in a 3-4 defense or outside in a 4-3 will be where he is best suited.

Dontay Moch in the second round along with Mason Foster are guys to watch. I like Adrian Molten from Maryland as a developmental third day prospect so watch for them. All in all the run defense was much more of an issue last season than the pass defense, ranking only 24th. That’s actually an improvement over recent seasons but nowhere near good enough to contend for a playoff spot. With the talent and skill that is on the defensive line the Lions should be a top 15 defense in both the run and pass game.

The back seven really only needs 3 players at this point from what I’m seeing. A quality starting corner, a quality starting line backer, and Chris Houston. With Coleman in the mix the depth is good. With guys like Palmer, Dizon, and Carpenter the line backer depth is solid and one of those guys could start.

If I was in charge, which I’m definitely not, I would go after one of the top line backers available out there that will fit in as an upgrade where Julian Peterson used to be. There will be up to 10 solid possibilities to look at. Find the best scheme fit and bring him in to start. Then I would try to get my hands on whomever the best weak side prospect is in the second round. In the first I’d strictly go best available and build the talent level on the team.

After fixing the line backing core with a guy like Chad Greenway and drafting a weak side prospect like Dontay Moch in the second, I would resign Chris Houston and hope to get a good corner prospect in the first round like Jimmy Smith or Brandon Harris. That would fill every perceived hole on this team. In the third round I would look at another offensive play maker like Randall Cobb or Lester Jean(one of my sleeper prospects). A center prospect has to be high on the list as well. The trouble Dominic Raiola keeps finding himself in as well as his questionable abilities combined with Dylan Gandy being a free agent make the need for a developmental center significant. I haven’t found a solid mid round prospect that I like yet though.

Thanks for reading, leave questions or comments if you’re so inclined. Martin, if you’re listening, I like the move and what I think the plan is.

David

Posted in 2011 NFL Draft, Detroit, Detroit Lions, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

2011 NFL Mock Draft Second Round

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on February 13, 2011

Welcome to the second round. If you came straight here and missed the first round then click here to see the first round.

33 New England Patriots – Titus Young WR – Deep threat who needs to work on his hands and attitude. New England can straighten things out.

34 Buffalo Bills – Blaine Gabbert QB – Developmental QB that could compete for the job with Fitzpatrick.I’m not convinced he is a franchise player but the hype gets him drafted here.

35 Cincinnati Bengals – Torrey Smith WR – Some outside speed to help replace Terrell.T.Ocho.Cinco. Owen .Johnson. I think you get some instant addition by subtraction there, if Cincy lets at least one of them move on.

36 Denver Broncos – Cameron Heyward DE – Denver needs to build up its defense, especially in the front seven.

37 Cleveland Browns - Kyle Rudolph TE – A real target for Colt. Good value, the top rated TE in the draft will create match up issues and provide a nice relief valve.

38 Arizona Cardinals – Ryan Kerrigan DE – Probably becomes an OLB but is versatile enough that he could add weight and play DE.  AZ gets outstanding  value from a  sliding prospect.

39 Tennessee Titans – Ryan Mallett QB – Tennessee hopes they’ve landed a developmental franchise QB.

40 Dallas Cowboys – Rahim Moore FS – Secondary help is big in big D. More is needed.

41 Washington Redskins – Rodney Hudson OG – Shanahan passes on a QB (and by QB I mean Newton) and builds the trenches in typical Shanahan fashion. Snyder is probably going to be trying to get Newton here.

42 Houston Texans – Marvin Austin DT – More beef for the D Line. Austin’s stock has fallen but is back on the rise. He’s a really nice second round prospect, especially for Texans D featuring former Matt Millen pick Shaun Cody in a starting spot.

43 Minnesota Vikings – Cam Newton QB – Maybe a surprise but the talent in Minnesota allows Newton a chance to turn into a real QB.

44 Detroit Lions – Curtis Brown CB – Top CB on the board to bolster Detroit’s secondary.

45 San Fran 49ers – Mason Foster LB – Versatile LB that can play in space.

46 Denver Broncos – Bruce Carter LB – The defensive upgrades continue.

47 St. Louis Rams – Luke Stocker TE – More help for Bradford.

48 Oakland Raiders – Rashad Carmichael CB – The Raiders find themselves needing secondary help.

49 Jacksonville Jaguars – Deunta Williams FS – Good value for a position of need.

50 San Diego Chargers – Stephen Paea DT – Potential DE to bolster an already strong defensive in SD.

51 Tampa Bay Bucs – Ryan Williams RB – Upgrade for FA Cadillac Williams. Great combo with Blount in the backfield.

52 New York Giants – Drake Nevis DT – Giants get solid value here.

53 Indianapolis Colts – Mikel Leshoure RB  – Powerful runner the Colts have lacked.

54 Philadelphia Eagles – Martez Wilson LB – Big ILB to strengthen an average run defense.

55 Kansas City Chiefs – Leonard Hankerson WR – KC has to address the WR position. Hankerson is having a good off season.

56 New Orleans Saints – Ras-I Dowling DB – Not the biggest need but Dowling has good value here.

57 Seattle Seahawks – Brandon Burton CB – Depth and talent for the secondary.

58 Baltimore Ravens – John Moffit OG – Some interior strength to bolster the run game.

59 Atlanta Falcons – Marcus Cannon OT/G – Versatile lineman that can fill in on the right side and bring some size/power.

60 New England Patriots – Brooks Reed OLB – More help for the young Patriots D.

61 San Diego Chargers – Quinton Carter S – Hard hitting safety for the Bolts.

62 Chicago Bears – Randall Cobb WR – Quick slot receiver for Martz’s system.

63 Pittsburgh Steelers – Danny Watkins OG – Interior help for the run game.

64 Green Bay Packers – Johnny Patrick CB – CB depth remains important at Lambeau.

The third round is coming soon.

When you finish viewing this draft check out my friend’s mock drafts over at Walterfootball.com. Walt, Greg, and Matt do a great job putting together mock drafts, prospect information, and more.

Posted in 2011 NFL Draft, Detroit Lions, Mock Draft, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

2011 NFL Mock Draft First Round

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on February 13, 2011

Thank you for stopping by to look at my mock. This is round one. I will be posting round 2 and 3 soon. I may have some surprises but I base my mock on what I think will happen at the draft, not today. The hype machines are going crazy but I think the more you look into thing the more you realize that it’s all smoke, no fire, in most cases. Enjoy, let me know what you think, and leave feedback or questions.

1 Carolina Panthers – AJ Green WR – Fairley or Green are options. Bowers would need amazing combine/interview/workouts.

2 Denver Broncos – Patrick Peterson CB – Obvious need combined with top talent on the board.

3 Buffalo Bills – Nick Fairley DT/E – Have to fix run defense and Fairley does that and gets pressure up field on the QB.

4 Cincinnati Bengals – DaQuan Bowers DE – With Green off the board, getting pressure up front becomes next biggest need.

5 Arizona Cardinals – Jake Locker QB – Workouts, combine, and interviews reveal Locker can be a franchise QB.

6 Cleveland Browns – Robert Quinn DE – I expect Dick Jauron to implement a 4-3 defense or transition to one. Quinn could play in either.

7 San Fran 49ers – Marcel Dareus DT – Dareus is a good backside 3-4 DE or UT if they switched to a 4-3. QB is in play.

8 Tennessee Titans – Aldon Smith DE – QB is a need but the D was not good this year. More pressure up front is desperately needed.

9 Dallas Cowboys – Nate Solder OT – I think the Cowboys look like the Raiders last year and surprise with some logical picks. OT is an obvious need.

10 Washington Redskins – Prince Amukamara CB – Too many needs in Washington. Hall and Rogers need contracts and a Safety upgrade could be had. Amukamara could fill whichever hole is left.

11 Houston Texans – Cameron Jordan DE – Have to get pressure in Houston. Jordan adds size and speed across from Williams. DT should be next.

12 Minnesota Vikings – Corey Liuget DT – An aging DL and Edwards hitting FA means DL fits.

13 Detroit Lions – Von Miller LB – Miller is getting hype now but his stock should level off as others impress in workouts. He falls based on positional value.

14 St. Louis Rams – Julio Jones WR – Talent and need meet nicely.

15 Miami Dolphins – Mark Ingram RB – Talent and need meet nicely again.

16 Jacksonville Jaguars – Brandon Harris CB – Corner or end are likely. I say Harris is the best option and gets the nod.

17 New England Patriots – Phil Taylor NT – The NT for the future.

18 San Diego Chargers – Gabe Carimi OT – Improving the run game with a mauluing RT is a good start.

19 New York Giants – Justin Houston OLB – Houston helps maintain the vaunted pass rush of the Giants.

20 Tampa Bay Bucs – JJ Watt DE – Pass rush has to be the top priority in Tampa. Watt is a solid prospect next McCoy or price he should do well.

21 Kansas City Chiefs – Stefen Wisniewski OC/G – OC, NT, and WR are major needs. Pending Casey Wiegmann’s retirement.

22 Indianapolis Colts – Tyron Smith OT – Give Peyton time and they’ll be back in the hunt for the division title.

23 Philadelphia Eagles – Jimmy Smith CB – Philly upgrades the No. 2 corner spot.

24 New Orleans Saints – Akeem Ayers LB – Need and value combine nicely yet again.

25 Seattle Seahawks – Mike Pouncey OC/G – Seattle struggles almost everywhere, opening up run lanes is very important. 89 ypg won’t cut it.

26 Baltimore Ravens – Aaron Williams CB – Upgrade at the biggest weak point on the defense.

27 Atlanta Falcons – Adrian Clayborn DE – Another team that has to find a way to pressure the QB.

28 New England Patriots – Benjamin Ijalana OG/T – OL depth and potential starter with excellent upside.

29 Chicago Bears – Anthony Castonzo OT – Best OL available is what the Bears need.

30 NY Jets – Jonathan Baldwin WR – It’s nto bad, but the passing game is the weak link in NY and 3 major players are hitting FA.

31 Pittsburgh Steelers – Derek Sherrod OT – The OT spot is still a concern in Pittsburgh. Relatively speaking.

32 Green Bay Packers – Muhammad Wilkerson DT/E – Good fit for the 3-4 provides needed depth. He could be a starter.

Click here to view the second round.

When you finish viewing this draft check out my friend’s mock drafts over at Walterfootball.com. Walt, Greg, and Matt do a great job putting together mock drafts, prospect information, and more.

I’ll be adding links to the next rounds in the next few days. I have round 3 complete and will be moving into round 4 as well.

Dave

Posted in 2011 NFL Draft, Detroit Lions, Mock Draft, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

2011 NFL Draft – Detroit Lions Prospects Round One

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on February 8, 2011

Obviously the Lions can go with any position at any point on draft day. We’ve watched some surprise picks over the years, Pettigrew, Delmas, Levy, Spievey, and Best are all solid examples. When you consider that list comprises 5 out of the 8 picks the Lions have had in the first three rounds under Martin Mayhew, I think it’s fair to make that assumption. I think the other fair assumption is that talent has been valued over perceived need.

Currently by my last count the Lions have picks in every round but the 6th. The 7th round it isn’t sure whether it’s an original pick or the Jet’s pick. That’s pretty much a non-factor though.

Let’s look at some of the players that may be available and options in each round. Guys to be mindful of for draft followers. I think it’s safe to say a QB is highly unlikely so I won’t be looking at any QB prospects. Every other position is fair game.

First Round:

The first round all depends on what happens before your pick. The Lions will take the best player they can get within reason.

Von Miller and Akeem Ayers are the most likely linebacker prospects at this point but Ayers is high risk and may fall. Miller may not be around when the Lions pick.

Nate Solder is a real possibility to take over as a future franchise left tackle. He has bust concerns but is physically impressive. His draft position is somewhat unpredictable. I say he ends up in the top 10 because of the position he plays. I just expect a team to fall for him, so to speak. It is almost Valentine’s Day.

The corner class is impressive this year and there are 5 first round candidates in my opinion. Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara headline the class but Aaron Williams, Jimmy Smith, and Brandon Harris are all first round prospects. One or two of them could fall into the second round thanks to the need for Quarterbacks and the strength of the defensive line prospects.  If any one of those 5 guys were available in the second round I would consider them to be the best available for the Lions most likely. The thing about corners is that they are highly unpredictable and without looking up the numbers, I would guess the bust rate to be high. The draft stock of a corner is greatly influenced by raw combine numbers so many of  these guys could rise or fall and a few other  second round guys could fly up the board like a Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

I don’t see a center or interior lineman worthy of a top 15 pick. Yes, that includes guys like Pouncey. He is a second round prospect that is being buoyed somewhat by his big brother. He may be a really good guard or center but has a way to go, most likely. I don’t see defensive lineman being a consideration unless an elite talent like Bowers is still there for some crazy reason. I would hope to trade down if that was the case.

There are 2 high level wide receivers and 1 high level running back in Mark Ingram. I see several other wide outs and backs being mocked in the first but I think many of them are overrated including the Virginia Tech running backs, Torrey Smith from Maryland, and Mikel Leshoure from Illinois. Good players but second to fourth round guys in my opinion.

Ingram is a possibility. He is underrated in my opinion. Ingram is a great running back prospect who could be a real, every down running back. I think he will be in the hunt for rookie of the year if he gets on the right team.

A.J. Green would be a steal outside of the top ten and is one of the top 5 prospects in the entire draft. Julio Jones is a solid talent, I don’t know that I would spend a top 15 pick on him in Detroit but they could do worse.

All in all this year has some perceived strengths and weaknesses but as evaluations occur the true first round guys will emerge. I think there are several players that are still somewhat unknown and will move significantly. Nate Solder and Cameron Jordan have already begun the process. Jimmy Smith, Robert Quinn, Ryan Mallett, and Adrian Clayborne are all on my watch list to move around a lot.

I’ll look into some of the guys I see in the second round next. Thank you for reading and for your feedback.

Dave

Posted in 2011 NFL Draft, Detroit, Detroit Lions, Michigan, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Senior Bowl – Von Miller Looking Like a Potential Draft Pick for the Detroit Lions

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on January 28, 2011

The Senior Bowl has been good for several players. I’ve been doing my best to pay attention to the reports and stock of players in attendance this year.

The Lions like to take the Best Available. That could be the best tackle, or backer, or running back. If they have a need and can get the best player at that position then I consider them to be a real prospect to consider. I don’t think they will go for a corner this year unless they truly feel they are getting an elite talent. That leaves a player like Prince Amukamara in consideration but if they could get the top line backer prospect in the entire draft then history tells me that they will go that direction.

Von Miller is emerging as that guy. Anyone that has seen Von play knows he can rush the quarterback from almost anywhere on the field. At 6’2″ and 237 pounds he is not a realistic defensive end or outside line backer prospect. He just doesn’t possess the size he would need in the NFL.

His college numbers are impressive but it is obvious that he must transition to the line backer spot if he wants to be a starter in the NFL. Transitioning from a rush specialist to a strong side line backer in a 4-3 scheme is a very significant transition for most players. The athletic skill set is very different. There is no doubt Von is an athlete and that he is a real football player but being able to move laterally and have the instincts and quickness to play in space takes different skills.

The Senior Bowl has given Von the chance to give line backer a try. His size is ideal for a 4-3 scheme and his athletic ability and strength appear to be translating. Reports are that Von has made the transition and has far exceeded expectations. He has shown the ability to cover underneath and the instincts to read and respond. He has also proven two other important things. Most importantly, he has the physical skills to play the position. The next most important thing you look for in a player is whether or not they can respond to coaching. I think it’s safe to say Von has shown he is capable in both regards and that makes him a very real prospect for Detroit. He fits a need, has elite skills, has elite intangibles it appears, and will likely be one of the best available players when Detroit is drafting. If he lasts that long.

I’ve talked about Akeem Ayers, mainly because I had two major questions about Miller. Whether he could play line backer and whether he’d be available when they pick. Right now it looks like it’s a matter of whether or not he’ll be on the board. If not, maybe that makes Prince fall to Detroit.

Nate Solder is another guy that I think will be a top 5 pick before it’s all said and done. I know the four letter network wants to call him a mid first round selection but the best left tackle in the draft with impressive physical attributes will turn into a top 8 pick. You can bet on that. If he keeps up his impressive play and does decent at the combine he’ll be a top 8 lock, probably even a top 5 pick.

I’m rooting heavily for Solder, the better he does the more likely a player of greater need will drop. It’s also nice to know that a really good tackle prospect could be there in the mid first round. The positional value would make him an interesting pick if it came to that. I highly doubt it will but it’s something to keep in the back of your mind.

The coverage of Cameron Jordan may help the Lions as well. He is moving up the draft and becoming one of the best 3-4 end prospects in the draft. That may make him a top 10 pick if he continues to show well. I think his strength numbers at the combine will be the deciding factor for many teams. If he has the strength he could sneak up to the top 10.

Two other players to watch in the middle rounds are Demarco Murray and Terrence Tolliver. Murray is underrated  in my opinion. I have him as a sleeper prospect right now. I think he can be a feature back. He has the ability. He has had some injury concerns that are costing him in draft status. I think he could be a nice player in the third or fourth rounds if available. I could see him getting drafted in the second though.

Tolliver is interesting because the opportunities weren’t really there in LSU for him to make a big name for himself so he’s tougher to judge. Character concerns are significant as well. Again, in the middle rounds Tolliver strikes me as one of those receivers that could turn into a real starter or a solid rotational receiver that you have to account for. He has the physical tools and has shown he can turn it on. I would be very interested in him in the third or fourth rounds as a No. 3 receiver in Detroit.

So Von Miller in the first followed by Murray and Tolliver in the third and fourth respectively. Second round, I would hope one of the next level corners are there. Aaron Williams and Jimmy Smith are guys I’m keeping my eye on. Williams is a bit under the radar and Smith is very raw. His coach-ability and workout/combine numbers will have a significant effect on his draft position.

David

Posted in 2011 NFL Draft, Detroit Lions, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Detroit Lions 2011 Mock Draft 4 Round

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on January 12, 2011

I’m going to make an update already.

I am going to continually update this quick mock draft based on players I think are real candidates where the Lions are picking.

Round 1 No. 13 overall – Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA

Round 2 No. 45 overall – Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

Round 3 No. 77 overall – John Moffit, OG, Wisconsin

Round 4 No. 109 overall – Nate Irving, ILB, NC State

Some other notables.

Round 1 – Von Miller- OLB-Texas A&M, Brandon Harris-CB-Miami, and Mark Ingram-RB-Alabama

Round 2 – Robert Sands-SS-WVU, Jimmy Smith-CB-Colorado, Casey Mathews-LB-Oregon, Ras-I-Dowling-CB/S-Virginia

Round 3 – Ben Ijalana-OT/G-Nova,  Marcus Cannon-OT/G-TCU, Quan Sturdivant-LB-North Carolina

Round 4 – Alex Linnenkohl-C-Oregon State, Noel Devine-RB/ST-WVU, Colin McCarthy-LB-Miami

Posted in 2011 NFL Draft, Detroit Lions, Sports | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Detroit Lions 2011 Draft – 4 round

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on January 11, 2011

I am going to continually update this quick mock draft based on players I think are real candidates where the Lions are picking.

Round 1 No. 13 overall – Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

Round 2 No. 45 overall – Robert Sands, SS, West Virginia

Round 3 No. 77 overall – John Moffit, OG, Wisconsin

Round 4 No. 109 overall – Devon House, CB, New Mexico State

Miller appears to have the agility, athleticism, speed, and  size to play the strong side. Robert Sands is an over looked safety prospects with amazing size, 6-5 215, great speed, who lays the wood and makes plays. I think he is one of the guys that may be a 2nd round steal if he can elevate his game in the NFL. John Moffit doesn’t get the praise that Carimi gets but I think Moffit is better at moving guys off the ball and is an ideal right guard prospect. I think he has the natural size, strength, and mobility to play at the next level. The running backs, especially a healthy Javhid Best, need someone who can open holes. Devon House is a developmental prospect that would need a year or two of coaching but he has good potential and may be able to contribute early with some NFL experience and coaching. He has the physical tools and a good feel for the position.

Another later round guy to watch is Demarco Murray. I think his skill set will translate well to the NFL. Nate Irving is a good mid round prospect that has the speed and range to cover the weak side line backer spot. Kelvin Sheppard, the ILB from LSU, fits the same bill as Irving.

Posted in 2011 NFL Draft, Detroit Lions, Sports, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Detroit Lions 2011 Draft First Round Prospects

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on January 10, 2011

Updated Prospect Discussion 2/8/11*

As we gear up for the Nation Championship Game tonight between Auburn and Oregon it’s almost time to turn full attention to the 2011 NFL Draft. Between the CBA and underclassmen declarations there is a fair amount of uncertainty right now. Let’s take a look at players that have declared for the draft that the Lions may be targeting with the No. 13 pick.

I’ve discussed in the past how the Lions go with the Best Available Player(BPA). Some think he employs the Best Available that fits a Need (BATFAN). I think it’s more of a Best Player Available With Common Sense (BPAWCS). We all know a QB won’t be on the scouts radar. Well, all of us common sense people get that anyways.

Michigan native Mark Ingram is probably the most dynamic player that might be on the radar. He can do everything as a running back except run away. I think Ingram could be compared to Adrian Peterson. His injury this year will likely effect people’s opinion of him but he is a fast, elusive, powerful runner with solid vision and instincts. He’s a No. 1 feature back from day one in my mind. Running backs seem to get different value in the draft by different teams and experts but any player that can come in and improve the run game, score points, and demand the defense accounts for them on every play is worth a first round pick. Ingram’s combine work outs will determine where he goes in the first round.

Mike Pouncey has grades that place him in the middle of the first down through the second round. His brother’s success can’t be overlooked and his ability to play Guard and Center makes him a valuable addition. The Lions struggled to open holes on run plays. They were solid in pass protection except when Dominic Raiola was being run over by a nose tackle like Jay Ratliff in Dallas. With the Miami fan incident and the rumored legal charges for an incident with a female up north, Raiola may be on thin ice. I don’t see his performance this season as anything more than slightly above average. He makes good calls and is consistent but the off field issues and his inability to move the larger interior defensive linemen it might be a solid idea to bring in a good center prospect to push or replace him or Stephen Peterman. I think Peterman had an injury that slowed him significantly this season for the record. Pouncey appears to be dropping and as a deveopmental center he probably is a second round prospect at this point.

The group of potential 4-3 line backers does not have any true stand outs. I think there are several guys that you expect to play okay and possibly start somewhere but no one jumps off the page to me. There are a few unpolished prospects with good potential and several highly polished guys with less upside. I’m not sold on going with a backer in the first unless you find someone you think can play the strong side. I’ve mentioned Akeem Ayers in the past, Von Miller and Justin Houston are also worth looking at. Last year it was believed that Koa Misi was a potential target to make the transition to backer. If one of these guys show the lateral agility to play pass coverage then they could be a solid option. I think Miller and Ayers possess the ability but I’m not sure about Houston, he is a good athlete though. Ayers is so raw, Miller has been more of a rush specialist, and so has Houston. Workout evaluations will be big for these guys.     *UPDATE: Von Miller

Wide receiver is a real option. After Burleson and Johnson the receiving core is like a hot dog or bologna. Mystery meat. You never know what you’re going to get. The Lions don’t need a return man, they don’t need someone who can take the top off the defense. They just need a good route runner that can beat a nickel or line backer consistently. Getting Calvin and Burleson in single coverage situations is the key. There are two ways to do this. Take the top off with a speedy receiver or use the short passing game to suck the safeties up so Calvin can get behind the safeties. You want to make them choose. In the first round a guy like Julio Jones or Justin Blackmon could be sitting there. Both are good prospects that have produced at a high level this season. I know it’s a receiver in the first round but the amount of three receiver sets the Lions use a receiver could make a solid impact. i have been impressed at times with Julio Jones’ blocking. Receiver blocking can be the difference between a nice gain and a touchdown.

Brandon Harris is a very realistic candidate. There is a coaching connection just like with Randy Phillips. I believe it’s the Lions secondary coach that came from Miami after Schwartz took over. I think the Lions will take a very close look at Harris. He is the only corner prospect that is a consensus first rounder that should be available. Amukamara could drop if his 40 times are slower. That is the knock on him, but the same went for Joe Haden last year. He still was drafted relatively high and has played well for a rook. Aaron Williams has lots of potential and if he’s available in the second I think he’s a solid option as well. Janoris Jenkins went back to school, Jimmy Smith is too raw to go in the first, same goes for Devon House.

I haven’t seen an offensive tackle worth drafting this high myself. There are some possible prospects that could elevate their status like Jason Smith did two years back but I’m not seeing any true elite prospects just yet. Sorry Backus haters. Second round is a better bet.

The defensive line could see a player, the first round is full of defensive tackles and defensive ends. I don’t see it as a major focus. If Da’Quan Bowers drops then you pull the trigger but the line has great talent and depth right now and unless it’s an obvious steal then I’d focus on more impactful positions personally. You can never ignore talent though.

The only safety I see that could elevate to the first round may be Rahim Moore. He’d need to test very well to be considered this high. I think safety is a significant need. It’s tough to rely on Amari Spievey for next year. He has a long ways to go still. Ras-I Dowling should make the transition to safety in my mind. He’s built for it and could excel there. He may be a good corner but I worry that NFL receivers will beat him deep unless he plays too far off. He has solid size and tackles well. Playing safety he could cover tight ends and backs out of the backfield and support the run game rather well.

That’s a quick look at some of the potential prospects. If you want my opinion on anyone specific let me know in the comments.

Dave

Posted in 2011 NFL Draft, Detroit, Detroit Lions, Sports | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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