With the Lions’ loss last weekend, and the Browns’ win, the Lions are suddenly in a two-way tie for the #2 overall pick. With only quarterback-starved St. Louis ahead of them, Lions fans everywhere are getting revved up for the possibility that Ndamukong Suh, the AP’s College Football Player of the Year, will soon don Honolulu Blue.
With Suh as the pass-rushing 3-technique tackle, and Hill as the run-stuffing 1-tech, the Lions would have their very own Williams Wall. Several people emailed me (and have been emailing me!) about this exciting concept, and I discussed the notion at length in last week’s mailbag post.
That night, though, something was tickling at the back of my mind. Fans, and talk show hosts, were already anointing Ndamukong Suh “the next Albert Haynesworth”. Let’s be real for a minute: Haynesworth is currently listed at 6’-6”, 350 pounds. Coming out of college, he was already 320. As beastly as Suh looked against Texas, he sure didn’t look 320.
Here's the sobering reality: the Huskers list Suh at 6'-4", 300. Wikipedia has him at 295. GBN Report lists him at 300, and NFL Draft Scout weighs him out at 302. Bottom line? He ain’t no Haynesworth. In fact, if we’re going to compare him to former Schwartz defensive linemen, he’s closer to Kevin Carter—a 6’-6”, 305-pound DE the Lions had extensive talks with this summer.
As a three-technique tackle in the Schwartz/Cunningham defense, I think Suh would be a little light in his loafers. They want the DTs to hit gaps square and deny rushing lanes; that’s not Suh’s forte. Frankly, Suh would be Rod Marinelli’s dream—he’s a prototypical Tampa 2 three-technique, a “skinny penetrator” who can burst past guards and get upfield fast.
Don’t get me wrong: Suh is an incredible player, and a dominating force. But look at this dude:
Check out how much of his bulk is in his arms, shoulders, and thighs. He’s incredibly strong for his size, and possesses a huge amount of burst. But this is not the type of body that drops anchor at the line of scrimmage, refuses to be moved, then casts off a double team to eat a running back. This is a disruptor, a penetrator, a—dare I say it?—violator of offenses. I wonder . . . could he play end?
Tom Kowalski has indicated in radio interviews, that if a massive, athletic, pass-rushing, run-stopping three-down defensive end had been available, the Lions might have drafted him over Matthew Stafford.
I'm not saying . . . I'm just saying.
If Suh could drop five or ten pounds of fat, he'd be a virtual clone of Super Mario—especially if he got a little quicker as a result. Further, of the few people who’ve been bold enough to admit that Suh’s game has any flaw at all, the consensus is that he plays a little too high, and uses his natural speed and upper body strength to go around blockers, rather than beat them at the point of attack.
Now, Big XII guards are not NFL right tackles; “going around” them is a lot harder. Everyone will expect instant impact from “Kong”, but Suh will probably spend his first full season learning his craft. As Mario Williams discovered, simply being bigger, faster, and stronger doesn’t cut it on Sundays.
Unfortunately, this will probably be true whether he plays end or tackle for the Lions: he’s a little too big to play end, a little too small to play tackle, relies a little too much on his talent, and will need a little work on his technique before he can make an impact. Sill, he IS the best DL prospect since Mario; I’m sure the Lions can, and will, find a use for him, should they be so lucky to draft him.