niether rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor dark of night . . .

>> 4.09.2009

It's mailbag time again!  I have a couple of good questions to dig into.  From Zipactonal:

"I see where the 49ers are posturing about not wanting Matt Stafford with the 10th pick. Meanwhile, Detroit has been pimping Stafford like he's the next Peyton Manning.  

If the Lions and 49ers both get shut out of the Cutler sweepstakes, Alex Smith and his newly restructured contract may be heading to Detroit. He has a LONG history with Linehan and a change-of-scenery will definitely help.

Wild guess? ~ Lions swap the 1.1 (Stafford) to the 49ers for their 1.10, 3.10 and Alex Smith. From the 49ers perspective, they're only 'out-of-pocket' a 3rd and a backup QB.

This is a really interesting scenario.  I have often compared the Lions' situation this year to the Niners' situation in 2005: a franchise looking up from its nadir, a new coach, a new start, in desperate need of a quarterback, sitting at 1.1, in perfect position to draft the franchise QB they need, and . . . there are no quarterbacks worth the 1.1 there, just two mid-to-late first rounders.  From the beginning, it was assumed that Aaron Rodgers would be the guy--but the longer he stayed up at the top of the mocks, the more people picked his game apart.  Further, the more people picked Rodgers' game apart, the more people fell in love with Alex Smith's raw talent.  I've said before that teams looked at Rodgers and went, "Oh oh, this guy could be the next Joey Harrington"--but then they looked at Alex Smith and went, "Heeeeeey, this guy could be the next Ben Roethlisberger!"  The Niners went with Smith, Rodgers fell to about where his grade was, and history says they made the wrong choice.  Of course, Rodgers got three years to sit behind Brett Favre and be groomed--if he'd been installed as the day one starter in SF, and Alex Smith had gone to Green Bay, would the roles be reversed?  We'll never know, but I've never envied the Niners the choice they had to make on that day.

Now the Lions are staring at a similar choice.  I believe that in Stafford and Sanchez are both 1.10-1.15-level prospects, and both would be a reach at 1.1.  Sanchez is rising fast, just like Smith was.  Sanchez, a couple months ago, was considered a second-round prospect who should have stayed another year--now, people are floating rumors that he's being considered at 1.4, 1.3, 1.2--and maybe even 1.1.  The parallels are really kind of eerie--now you propose doing what the Niners probably should have done to begin with--trade down, and fight to live another day. [wow, that was a misstype but it's an awfully poetic subversion of the cliche; I'll have to use it on purpose sometime! I think the Lions would love to move down a few spots, and also would love to pick up an extra third.  I don't know if 1.10 is really where they want to be, though.  That's too low for Curry, and probably too low for Raji . . . would they then put together a package to move back up?  l also don't think that Alex Smith is the guy they're necessarily looking for.  I don't see Smith as being the 'veteran backup' that Mayhew was looking for, nor the 'franchise quarterback' Mayhew is apparently interested in drafting.  He sort of splits the difference between Culepper and Stanton--big and raw like Culpepper, but more experienced than Stanton, but still hasn't shown anything, yet still has some upside left, unlike Culpepper . . . we could go 'round and 'round on this all day.Mayhew has proven he's not afraid to play with fire, and thus there are no trade scenarios I'll dismiss out-of-hand unless the value is off.  This would be close to correct in terms of value, but even if you assume the Niners would love to take Stafford at 1.1, the likelihood hinges on Detroit being willing to drop that far, and Detroit's opinion of Alex Smith.Here's another good one, from Neal:
"What are your thoughts on this depth chart, do you feel its accurate?
Do you feel as if Loper, and Coston, and Ramirez all have a better shot of sticking around than Foster, and that other Lents guy, right? I sure hope so. I see potential in Loper. And, who is the Gandy fella?"
It looks to me like they took the official 2008 depth chart, and have then slotted guys in where they think they'll best fit.  The first thing that I see is Damion Cook starting at LG--Cook was a CFL street free agent in 2008, cut from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and waiting for a call.  Colletto called, because Cook had been signed as an undrafted free agent when Colletto was in Baltimore, was a good-sized fella, and could play guard or center.  He spent several weeks on the roster, and even started the last two games.  I don't see him as an 'entrenched starter' or even someone likely to make the team.  The next thing that stands out to me is Loper as a backup LT.  It's true that Loper is big enough (6'-6", 320)and fast enough to play all four guard and tackle spots--but I would think that if Backus got hurt, Cherilus would slide over to LT before they'd plug Loper in.  I see Loper as the presumptive starting LG, unless and until the Lions draft someone at LT or G.  If they do draft someone, and either the rook plays LG, or the rook plays LT and Backus slides over to LG, then Loper becomes the top backup at all four guard and tackle spots.  Coston was a free agent last year who never saw the field; I'll be surprised if he makes this roster.  Lentz is another big-bodied depth guy.  Manny Ramirez is a total enigma to me.  He's got the body of a road grader, played where they do nothing but pass protect, and was legendary leader and high-motor guy in college.  Yet, he can't even sniff the field after all this time.  He's got plenty of potential, I just don't know if it will ever be tapped. Honestly, I have no idea who Gandy is.  I think the Lions are just rounding up ten guys who weigh over 330 and letting them all duke it out for two starting spots and three backup spots.


Hurley,  April 9, 2009 at 2:58 PM  

Not a fan of Alex Smith at all - he's a career backup. However, if SF really wants Stafford, I say try to put something together without Smith. I would only take Smith as a throw-in, and even then he's probably making too much money to be a backup.

Ty,  April 9, 2009 at 3:01 PM  

Agreed, I don't think Smith represents any real or potential ability beyond what the Lions already have in Culpepper and Stanton. The guy I'd really like from SF is DT Isaac Sopoaga, but I doubt they'll let him walk . . .


Anonymous,  April 9, 2009 at 3:21 PM  

I always like to see TY throw one of my emails up on the board! haha
No, but seriously I want NO part of Smith, though he is on the super cheap with the incentive laden contract the 9ers have renegotiated with him. He was a 2 year graduate with a degree, so everyone thought his smarts and upside were to good to pass up? I think though if they could get #10, and their 3rd rounder and Smith I would take it for the sake fo the picks!!!
I must agree that their just throwing together a bunch of OL with actual size and allowing it to play out this summer/fall will be a far better approach then throwing a bunch of undersized OL, out there. Its bad enough everyone keeps saying we have undersized DL. Though the more I look across the league; theres a lot of teams with DL that hover round the same height/weight.
I dont know...

steve,  April 9, 2009 at 3:36 PM  

In regards to Alex Smith, he has done nothing to distinguish himself in the NFL, except fail. He is still young, so he could experience a Plunkett or Gannon-like meteoric resurgence, but it would take an organization patient enough to repair and nurture him, so that he would regain the confidence necessary to tap his intelligence and whatever remaining physical tools that he currently possesses.

In regards to the Lions O-line, I expect that a lot will be sorted out after the draft. Especially, with a selection of Matthew Stafford. The Lions will not be foolish enough to trot out their newly-minted franchise savior, without a significant upgrade along their offensive front.

Oh, Man-Ram, you enigma you. The Lions are a veritable enigma factory. Ramirez, Boss Bailey, Kalimba Edwards, Roy Williams, Hawaii Five-O, Shaun Cody, and Chris Claiborne all figure prominently among the MANY enigmatic players whp have been unable to develop into a league average level player at their respective positions.

Hopefully, a new staff will find the means to change this damaging trend.

Anonymous,  April 9, 2009 at 7:15 PM  

Actually, union contract stipulates the postal service doesn't have to deliver after dark.

They make the scabs do it.

Ty,  April 10, 2009 at 12:55 PM  


Don't get too hung up on pure weight; a lot of what matters is bulk where it counts, frame, length, etc. I just read a piece on SenDerrick Marks; he currently goes about 288, but is really lean on both his upper and lower body. The article was suggesting that the Pats might be interested in him as an eventual replacement for DT Ty Warren--a 3-4 NT. So the Lions might draft Marks with the 3.1 and have everyone scratching their heads, but in two years he might be a lean, mean 315, and the lynchpin of Gunther's defensive attack.


Ty,  April 10, 2009 at 1:54 PM  


When you have a "CEO" who doesn't listen to his scouts, overrides his front office, ignores the wishes of his coaching staff, and drafts by gut instinct, you end up with an enigma factory indeed--guys who don't fit into systems, guys with flashy talent but no drive to succeed, guys who are doomed to be 'tweeners. Let's hope and pray we've left those days far behind us.


Riley,  April 10, 2009 at 6:24 PM  

Even if the only compensation they got for there first pick was a extra 3rd round pick from SF, I would be happy to see the Lions trade back to the 10 spot.

Alex Smith would be just a nice extra bonus.

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