popping up for air

>> 4.13.2009

As anyone who's watched ESPN desperately try to keep eyeballs tuned to its marathon coverage of Day 2 of the draft has been told, franchises can be destroyed by bad drafting on Day 1, but dynasties are built by great drafting on Day 2.  Great late-round drafting makes an immediate impact on special teams play, and in some of the less-flashy positions like offensive guard, tight end, and safety.  Also, you'll see value when players change position--like when Bills signed an undrafted free agent tight end from Arkansas named Jason Peters and a few years later had a franchise left tackle.  Great late-round drafting makes a long-term impact by building depth that lets teams excel through six months of violence--and by building depth that makes losses to age or free agency sting much less.  The Patriots, Colts, Eagles, Chargers, and Steelers are all great examples of this; players in the late rounds will, after two or three years, either challenge for starting spots or go on to start elsewhere.

The Lions, thanks to trades that brought them Cliff Avril and the Cowboys' first and third-rounders, have traded away their fourth-, fifth- and seventh-round picks--but added the Cowboy's sixth-rounder, and received a compensatory seventh-round pick from the league.  So the Lions are working with the 6.1, 6.20, and 7.46.  Of course, the Lions needs are so great that rookies from almost any round, in almost any position, will have a chance to see the field.  Still, I think that there are couple of positions that the Lions will have in mind going into the latter rounds of the draft.

After three years of Rod Marinelli not keeping special teams specialists around, that cupboard is almost bare.  Look for the Lions to look hard at the safety/OLB 'tweeners with speed and who love to hit . . . guys like Ohio University prospect Michael Mitchell.  6'-1", 220 pounds, ran a 4.4 at his Pro Day and benched 22 reps of 225 pounds.  He wasn't invited to the combine, so he's just now starting to climb up team's radar.  He could be an impact gunner right away, and possibly take the roster spot of whichever of the Lions' many question-mark-surrounded safeties flame out this training camp or offseason.  In a couple of years, this kid could be out of the NFL, or a valuable starter, but I look at him, and other players with a similar skill set, as a strong possiblity for one of the three late-round picks.

Another type I think the Lions will look hard at--if not addressed in the earlier rounds--is wide receiver/kick returner.  The Lions need lots of help at both WR and CB, and they desperately need all the experienced returners they can get.  A wideout that's caught my eye--and the Lions' eye--is Washington State senior Brandon Gibson.  A big target at 6'-1", 210, he's very strong and physical, has great feet and body control, and runs excellent routes.  In his junior season, he led the Pac 10 in receptions and yardage with 67 grabs for 1,180 yards.  His production took a step back his senior year, as he was essentially the only worthwhile offensive player on the field for Washington State, but he still hauled in 50 passes for 793 yards.  He returned kicks well in both high school and college, once earning a nomination for Pac-10 special teams Player of the Week.  He was unable to attend the combine, or Wazzou's Pro Day, due to a hamstring pull.  But, he held a repeat workout day at a local high school.  The Lions had scouts in attendance, as he worked out in the wind and rain.  Partially thanks to the conditions, he didn't put up great numbers; his 40 run was timed in the high 4.5 to low 4.6 range.  Since his deep speed was really the biggest question on his resume, having subpar times in iffy conditions didn't really help.  Still, going into his senior season, he was on the preseason Maxwell award(given to the nation's most outstanding player) watch list--the kid has first-round talent.  Did I mention that Lions OL coach George Yarno was coaching at Wazzou during Gibson's freshman and sophomore years?  Gibson's not going to sneak past the Lions.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see them make a move into the low fourth or high fifth to get him, if he's there.

Finally, I think the Lions could be looking at tight end in the later rounds.  Whether or not they surprise everyone and take a TE early, the Lions' depth at tight end needs to be rebuilt.  Casey Fitzsimmons hasn't shown any NFL ability since his rookie season, and that was five years ago.  Michael Gaines was neither a great blocker nor offensive weapon, and John Owens is gone.  Free agent signee Will Heller looks like a pure blocker.  It's well known that one of the greatest crutches for a QB is a tight end with great hands, who can get open quick and catch the ball reliably, especially on third down--and whether or not the Lions draft Stafford, the Lions's QBs will need all the crutches they can get.  A guy I really hope might be there is N.C. State's Anthony Hill.  At 6'-5", 262, Hill's a really big, strong guy with a long frame.  He's a great inline blocker, but he's got really nice hands and can get open in traffic.  I think the Lions desperately need this kind of TE, a big blocker who can get open and make the catch on 3rd-and-6; move the sticks, over and over and over.  I don't think the Lions are really in need of the field stretching, Gates/Winslow type.  Johnson and Johnson are both deep threats; there should be plenty of space underneath for a TE like Hill. 

These by no means represent my "list of guys I think the Lions should take", and definitely isn't my projection of who I think the Lions will take with any specific pick.  These some of the kinds of players I think the Lions can and should pursue with their second-day picks: big, fast safeties who can tackle, polished receivers who can return kicks, and big blocking tight ends with great hands.  All of these kinds of players could have a tangible presence on the Lions' roster from day one, and any of them might develop into solid role players down the road.  

44 comments:

Anonymous,  April 14, 2009 at 12:10 PM  

Very interesting, to say the least. I am in agreeance with your late rounds assessment. I think the odds of Lions players taken in rounds 5-7, making the team are slim to known, so these picks are like freebie picks, that you must hope and wish for the best and maybe 1 of the 3 turns out darn good? I like it, Ty......

Neal

Anonymous,  April 14, 2009 at 1:32 PM  

agreeance isn't a word.

completely disagree with the 'freebie picks' comment too. we need to hit on most, if not all of these picks in order to get the max out of this draft. can't afford to have any more lehmans, goddards, scotts, or swancutts period.

as for our KR/PR i REALLY like derrick williams out of penn state. i think he could be our next mel grey, or as close to him as we can get in this draft.

Anonymous,  April 14, 2009 at 2:16 PM  

Um, use a dictionary much Mr anonymous? Agreeance is a word! Thanks though Mr Jenkins, my English teacher from 9th grade who didnt know english very well either.
And, sure I hope they get the best value as stated above by Ty, and I agree(anced) with him!
I am just saying how many damn 5th-7th rounders have helped this team; that they have drafted in those rounds the last 10 years? You mention Lehamn, and Swancutt, so you already know the answer...
I am just saying wishful thinking is nice, but I would just be glad to see them take some quality players in the first 3 rounds. They havent got any picks in rounds 4 or 5. No need for greed, this is the stinkin Lions, Mr Jenkins!
This goes for most teams, with the exception of the previous mentioned teams above. So, sure I hope they find Tom Brady(John Doe) in the 6th round, but come on.....
Neal V. F.

TT April 14, 2009 at 3:00 PM  

it's not agreeance it's AGREEMENT you twit.

Anonymous,  April 14, 2009 at 3:02 PM  

read the first definition:

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=agreeance

Anonymous,  April 14, 2009 at 3:20 PM  

'twit'?
Ok, we are in my 9th grade english class.....

Well, It is NOT agreement, it is "....agreeance....."

Thanks, though Mr Jenkins, and Mrs. Farwell!!!!!


Neal

Anonymous,  April 14, 2009 at 3:22 PM  

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/agreeance


hey TT, Total Twit


Neal

Ty April 14, 2009 at 3:28 PM  

Neal--

To an extent, that's true of any draft pick. The rate of first-round picks who become productive starters is like 50%, and it drops precipitously from there. Any time a second-day pick becomes a productive starter, it's a blessing and a stroke of luck. However, good teams groom a significant number of their late-round picks into quality backups, and sometimes those backups become starters. Look at Ramzee Robinson: he was Mr. Irrelevant, and yet he has a very good chance of making this team, and contributing on special teams and in the dime package in his third season. That's nice, and if we could get that level of contribution or better from these three picks, it will make a big difference in '10 and '11.

Peace
Ty

Anonymous,  April 14, 2009 at 3:47 PM  

Like I said, I was agree(anc(ed)) with you...
Just being realistic! I would be curious what the true percentage of successses in the league past round three?
Anyways, theyll have no picks in rounds 4 or 5.
Ramzee Robinson, I thought was a huge failure. It seems to me I remember him getting penalties and makign foolish plays on mroe than one occasion?

I dont know...

Neal

Anonymous,  April 14, 2009 at 3:56 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ty April 14, 2009 at 5:49 PM  

Anon--

It's true that there's no such thing as a freebie pick, and that this Lions team absolutely must do their best to maximize value from each of these selections. However, I often hear people say stuff like "WE MUST GET FIVE PRO BOWLERS IN THIS DRAFT!!!!!1" . . . and while I'd of course love for that to go down, it's neither possible, nor necessary. You can reasonably expect first-rounders to step in and start, except at more developmental positions like QB and WR. Second- and third-rounders can be expected to at least be in the mix for regular playing time. After that, basically anything you ever get out of those second-day picks is a bonus. However, the best franchises manange to more consistently find good developmental players on the second day, and that's what I'm talking about.

The Lions are so far from "good" that no amount of rookies can fill all the holes. I'm not sure why people assume that the Lions can take their position-need "shopping list", then just sort the rookies by position, and go "one of these, one of those, one of these, two of those" and put little checkmarks by each need until they run out of picks. It simply doesn't work that way, and it's how we end up with second-rounders like Dizon. Dude was drafted because it was thought he might be an okay MLB RIGHT NOW, and now one year later we have a player who might not ever be useful at any position.

Peace
Ty

Ty April 14, 2009 at 6:04 PM  

Neal V.F.--

I agree that the first five picks are most critical--but they have to draft for the future, not the now. This 2009 Lions team is going to be sub-.500 no matter who the Lions draft, so why all the heartburn about "instant impact"? This team needs a base of talent that can get it to the 2011 playoffs, not greenhorns to throw out there and see if they can cut it or not.

Peace
Ty

Ty April 14, 2009 at 6:07 PM  

BTW, folks, I love passionate debate and I don't even mind it when it gets a little intense. But please, slur-flinging and grade-school name calling don't belong here (or anywhere).

Peace
Ty

Joe R April 15, 2009 at 7:14 AM  

Titan fan here. We raised a couple of eyebrows when we drafted Cortland Finnegan in round 7 back in 2006, since people didn't expect him to be drafted at all. He got groomed into the nickelback role, then got a chance to start and now he's a Pro Bowler. Just shows that Ty is right, teams ought to do their homework in the late rounds, if only for good depth. There are a lot of good small school players that end up there due to a lack of recognition, for example Finnegan.

PS - Neal, go to the link you posted and read the section marked 'Usage'. Agreeance is not the correct term. But Anonymous shouldn't call you out over something that really doesn't matter.

Ty April 15, 2009 at 8:27 AM  

Joe R-

Outstanding example; that's exactly what I'm talking about. Unfortunately, the "groomed" part is what matters here . . . late-round picks need to fit a system, get consistent coaching, and develop into their role. The Lions have had basically no continuity in systems and coaching since Wayne Fontes--and even he switched from the June Jones and the Run-N'-Shoot to Tom Moore's downfield offense, and the defense switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3 under his tenure as well . . .

But coordinators here have a shelf life of about 18 months, and coaches three years. With luck, Schwartz/Linehan/Gun will stay together for at least three years; that's the best way to maximize this late-round talent.

Peace
Ty

Anonymous,  April 15, 2009 at 9:58 AM  

Thank you Joe R for pointing that out. I respect your class, sir. Its a sports forumn, NOT a 9th grade english class was my point, thats all. Besides he said it wasnt a word, and it is!
I dont want to ruin this blog for TY. So.

Your right on Finnegan, I had him in two fantasy leagues that had IDP's. But, we'll see. The Lions are terrible, and will maybe win 2 games after the bye week, none before, and then we get a pick in the top 3 next year too. So, I am not saying impact players now, Im not saying all picks after round one are freebie picks, I am not saying anything that means anything really seeing as how I am a regular dude with an opinion. Their first 5 picks matter most. Should all be starters sooner than later. They have many needs. They cant be addressed without finding a diamond in the rough. Though how often have the Lions picked a 7th round Finnegan? I also feel as if thinking for next years draft is the wrong way to go, but I cant help but figure it into my honest assessment? My wishful thinking, and my realistic expectations are far different from each other.

Godo day fellas,
Neal V.F.

Anonymous,  April 15, 2009 at 10:12 AM  
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Anonymous,  April 15, 2009 at 10:32 AM  
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Anonymous,  April 15, 2009 at 11:22 AM  
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Anonymous,  April 15, 2009 at 11:22 AM  
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Anonymous,  April 15, 2009 at 12:21 PM  

Sorry TY,
I feel somewhat responsible for the internet trolls. Man, thsi sucks. I really liek thsi blog. I guess I will sto posting.
Good luck fellas, Go Lions!!!

Neal V.F.

Anonymous,  April 15, 2009 at 12:22 PM  

that post looks like crap.....
not a champion typer either guys!
Neal

Ty April 15, 2009 at 12:25 PM  

Dude, Neal, don't stop. You guys keep on commenting, and I'll keep an eye on things and make sure they don't get too far out of hand. Like I said, I'll tolerate a lot, but slurs and/or a steady stream of insults will draw my ire. Then, it's just a couple of clicks by me and we get back to being fans--no sweat.

Peace
Ty

drewski,  April 15, 2009 at 12:39 PM  

I think Dizon got a raw deal last year personally, perhaps it was because of his smaller size for a LB. I will say this about him, when he was in the game in either mop up duty or special teams the guy knows how to tackle. I remember almost throwing my remote through a window last year on a play where Travis Fisher threw a shoulder into a running back, and then confused why the RB was trotting into the end zone instead of being tackled. Ernie loves the shoulder tackle too and doesn't always work. Jordan has good tackling form and actually wraps his guy up and bring him down. I think with his speed and tackling ability he should be playing more and I hope that he plays next year. Am I the only one who sees this or are there any others that agree?

I love this blog by the way TY...thanks for giving me things to read about my Lions.

Anonymous,  April 15, 2009 at 12:42 PM  

I hope to continue posting, and look forward to your next blog entry. I just cant help but feel like the crazies came out when I started posting here. I never thought I was out of hand, or over the line, though. Dude called me out, and yes I used it in the worng contect, but it was stilla word, and everyone was sure to understand what I meant....

Anyways, keep up the good work, TY

Go Tigers!!!! ;o)

Neal

Anonymous,  April 15, 2009 at 12:50 PM  

I am in agree(ance(ed)(ment)) with Drewski. The guy did have 120 solo tackles, 4 sacks, 2 int's at Colorado, in 07. I think they could still use the kid. But, with two LBers at 5'11 and roughly 225 lbs, they will still need a LB with size in this scheme.

Neal

drewski,  April 15, 2009 at 12:57 PM  

lol Neal...whatever the word is. I was kinda surprised that they called you out on that one bro. I think 90% of the readers probably would have missed it and the 10% that did 99% wouldn't have even commented on that. Kinda look at it like hitting the lottery.

As far as Dizon goes, I am pretty sure the Lions will take a LB (hopefully) with one of their first 3 picks. Dizon looks to be a backup but I think he could still see some playing time giving Peterson a breather and on special teams. Plus, we all know the Lions use old equipment and pads from a local JV team and we end up with the most injuries in the league so if one of our guys do go down he might see some PT then.

Anonymous,  April 15, 2009 at 1:14 PM  

The odds are against him, due to size, and (lack of)speed, but not due to ability.
I think the fact he was a projected round 4-5 pick, and the Lions took him round 2 #45 overall is a perfect Marinelli's "lil guys" pick.
Ah well, hopefully we see Peterson play his butt off for another contract, and Sims shows half off what he has potential to be, and a guy like Dizon can rotate in with a rookie (i.e. Rey M. or Animal Jr)....
Neal

Anonymous,  April 15, 2009 at 1:25 PM  

i didn't call anyone out. tried typing in agreeance and FF immediately red-lined it so i said it wasn't a word. should have said it wasn't the RIGHT word, but i digress.

and i'm not a troll or a grammar nazi either, for the record.

Anonymous,  April 15, 2009 at 1:48 PM  

Thats cool. But, next thing ya know TT's posting that I'm a "twit", someone then posts a link to the "Urban Dictionary" which is hilarious in itself, and some Anon's are dropping curse words and derogatory remarks on Ty's blog?
Mabe you are not one, but you must admit there are many trolls in the net, and chastizing people behind a computer screen on a message board is an exact trend of said 'trolls'.
Neal

Clausewitz April 15, 2009 at 2:46 PM  

Oi, sou o Clausewitz e gostaria de convidar você para visitar meu blog e conhecer alguma coisa do Brasil. Abração

Anonymous,  April 15, 2009 at 2:50 PM  

i'd say that anyone who responds to the asinine comments that trolls make is just as guilty cuz they're fueling the fire. always takes 2 to tango so the best course is to just ignore them.

Anonymous,  April 15, 2009 at 3:18 PM  

hahahahahahahahahahaaaa

OK, so I fueled the fire?

wow.

OK, back to sports!

And, what is with the non english post? We're in english class here, duh? hahahahah


Neal

Anonymous,  April 15, 2009 at 4:13 PM  

you didn't help by responding that's for sure. way to deflect the blame onto someone else.

and what are you talking about with the non-english post comment? last i checked you were the one that couldn't spell or use correct punctuation.

Ty April 15, 2009 at 4:23 PM  

Clausewitz--

Obrigado visitando meu blogue. Nós ventiladores dos leões de Detroit apreciamos o convite olhar seu. Tenha por favor um Cachaça na honra de nossa equipe favorita o próximo sábado.

Paz
Ty

Ty April 15, 2009 at 5:11 PM  

drewski--

Don't get me wrong, I love Dizon's work ethic, speed, and tackling. He's just not an NFL Mike. He's said the Lions are looking for him to get up to 230, and I think if he can do that without losing a step he could be a very effective OLB. Schwartz said today that Dizon is starting inside in the Nickel package, and in the base defense is backing up Peterson on the outside.

I think that's a great role for Jordon. If we do draft a guy like Laurenitis, Dizon will probably still play in the nickel, which means he'll probably split snaps 35/65 with Laurenitis come the season. Dizon might then push Peterson for time in a season or two. We haven't even discussed Dizon's likely-large role on special teams . . . don't give up on him just yet. I predict that anyone who's smart, tough, and can tackle well will have a role on this team come the fall.

Peace
Ty

Anonymous,  April 16, 2009 at 8:28 AM  

OK, I cant spell, I cant punctuate, and I am the dummy here. lol Whatever. lol
If it makes ya feel better, then so be it.
But, the non english post above by clauswitz, which Ty has responded to in another langauge, which is fine, but..., ok smart guy.
And, yes I made it worse by responding!

Good Luck TY

Neal

Anonymous,  April 16, 2009 at 8:35 AM  

For the record, I was just AGREEING with TY in a post(You F^#&'s), then Anonymous troll calls me out on a grammer issue, "he responded to me", then I was called a twit, then TY has to delete a bunch of posts with cursing and name calling, and THEN I type a post to fast, and I cant spell, or punctuate? Who's fueled what fire, you F'n punk a-- bit---es......

OUT
NVF

Anonymous,  April 16, 2009 at 9:30 AM  

^LOL

thought you said you don't get bothered by trolls....LMAO

Anonymous,  April 16, 2009 at 9:39 AM  

trolls dont, dumbasses are a different thing.....

Anonymous,  April 16, 2009 at 1:04 PM  

you guys are both a couple of toosl for ruinning this blog for this guy.

Anonymous,  April 16, 2009 at 2:48 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous,  April 16, 2009 at 4:04 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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