For years, perhaps decades, the Detroit Lions always seem to be confused on what to do at draft time.
Oh sure, they have gotten some great players like Barry Sanders, Chris Speilman, Lomas Brown, Billy Sims, and Calvin Johnson. And while these great players brought excitement to the area, none have yet delivered what Detroit Lions fans want: A Super Bowl Championship.
I don’t put the blame on the players…they aren’t the ones who fail to get other good to great players to support the “chosen” ones to lead them to the promised land. No, that rests on the dolts who fail to find players late in the draft that can be the difference between a 12-4 team to an 7-9 team. And for the most part, the disparity really isn’t all that far apart.
But this isn’t going to be yet another article blasting Lions front office for failing to get the players needed. Why? Because the Lions are not that far away from getting there.
For the first time I can remember in a long time, the Lions can actually use this draft to strengthen an already strong team instead of trying to rebuild.
So what do the Lions need? First, let’s make some assumptions:
1. I am not a football expert nor am I one of those people that delve into tons of research…much of what you will see in this post will be my opinion, things coming from my gut and not much else.
2. I, like everyone else in the world (both cyber and reality) have an opinion. Deal with it.
3. I have limited knowledge on college players. Much of what I gather will be mainly from other draft sites and information on the players themselves. I envision a players dimension, his size and speed…and I do some work on what type of person he is off the field. To this point, I am not looking for Dudley Do-Right (yes, I am that old) but I also don’t want a player who has a felony past.
4. Ndamukong Suh will be with the Lions either with a new contract or will be franchised.
Fair enough? Cool, on with what the Lions need!
The Lions have 6 draft picks this year, rounds 1-4 and then 6,7. No pick in the 5th round.
Not since the days of Barry Sanders have the Detroit Lions had an offensive line that has been worth a damn. For the life of me, past and present GM’s seem to think an offensive line can be built with cast-offs when anyone with half a brain can see statistically that teams with good offensive line are generally going to have more wins than losses.
Riley Reif has turned into a really good left tackle. What concerns me is there really is no one behind him if he needs a rest or gets injured. The Lions can find a good back-up in Jamon Brown out of Louisville. He is 6-6 and 323 pounds who is a good run blocker. He’ll need some help on pass protection but that can be coached into him by Offensive Line coach Jerimah Washburn and Assistant Offensive Line coach Bobby Johnson.
However, that may be a luxury pick. What’s really a concern is right tackle, since LaAdrian Waddle couldn’t stay healthy. Perhaps drafting Brown in the 6th round and starting him on the right side and leave Waddle as a capable back-up to both would be wise.
Another area the Lions seem to want to fill with guys off the street. They would be wise to look at the Seattle Seahawks philosophy and start getting some big, physical corners and safeties that can cover the big, physical wide receivers that have been a problem for the Lions for a very long time.
Darius Slay is going to need some help and this draft should get him some. There are 3 CB’s that I see the Lions should target with their #2 pick:
Trae Waynes out of Michigan State. He’s 6’1, 185 lbs. and has 4.43 speed. He’s got the size and athletic ability for press cover and will only get stronger as he plays.
Kevin Johnson from Wake Forest. 6’1 but only 175 lbs. But he can bulk up to NFL standards pretty easily. He has the length to cover the big receivers on the sidelines.
Marcus Peters from University of Washington. 6′ and 190 lbs. he could be a steal in this draft if his head is on right. He’s the player who had multiple run-ins with new coach Chris Peters and was eventually kicked off the team. But other cornerbacks in recent years such as Janoris Jenkins and Tyrann Mathieu were kicked off teams and have turned it around to have careers in the NFL.
Peters has the quickness and agility to stay with receivers in coverage. It would be a roll of the dice but if he’s there at three or four, they should think about grabbing him.
Reggie Bush is gone and Joique Bell is near that age (28) when running backs start to decline. And I do not have a lot of faith in Theo Riddick or George Winn to be capable back-ups. Riddick did show flashes of brilliance as an effective pass catcher out of the backfield and I would love to see the Lions utilize him more in that role. But the Lions might want to consider taking a running back in the first round.
Lions need to a have a more effective running game to give to allow the passing game to take more shots down the field to Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate.
Jeremy Langford, Michigan State. I know, no way the Lions should take this guy in the first round. But I am impressed by his speed. He ran a 4.42 40 yard dash at the 2015 combine. And if there is anything the Lions lack at the running back spot right now is speed. If Langford is there at four, take him, provided the Lions didn’t draft a RB with their first pick.
Todd Gurley, Georgia. Gurley is talented enough, strong enough and fast enough to start over Joique Bell right now. He has a great combination of speed (4.49 40 time) and power with the ability to break tackles and be a threat to score on any carry. Lions really haven’t had that type of threat since Barry Sanders. Imagine how he could affect the passing game when teams will have to pay attention to him at all times. If he’s there at 23, Lions need to draft him.
If the Lions want to wait and hope until the third round, Mike Davis from South Carolina would be a nice addition to the Lions. He’s 5-9 and 223 lbs. He is a physical, downhill runner who can hit the hole, good receiver out of the backfield and some surprising explosion to go along with good vision and balance. He would be competing with Riddick for time and if he makes the cut, it would be so long for George Winn.
Lions need to bolster up these weak spots. Both Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are running out of time, more so CJ than Stafford.
I really hope the Lions make the smart moves…whether it’s these guys or others, they need to bolster these areas to make a bid for the 2015 Super Bowl.