One Man's Trash: Ashlee Palmer to the Lions

>> 2.19.2010

Yesterday, the Lions acquired former Bills OLB Ashlee Palmer.  Palmer, a 2009 undrafted free agent out of Ole Miss, played 14 games for the Bills last season, including two starts.  The Lions’ interest was probably piqued in fourth preseason game, when Palmer started against them, and had five solo tackles, an assist, and a pass defensed. 

That's quite the season for an undrafted rookie.  Check out his performance against the Jets in week 6: he got the start, six solo tackles (none on special teams, all as an LB), and a pass defensed.  So what would cause them to let such a promising young player go?  The Bills’ new head coach, Chan Gailey, wants to switch to a 3-4.  Quoth Gailey:

There’s two things involved here. One, 3-4 personnel allows you when you start there to create more problems for the offense.  That’s the No. 1 thing. You are creating more problems. I know the problems it gives us offensively to have to prepare for that. You get to some nickel situations and now it’s back to 4-2 with the nickel guy in there. Now you’ve got to prepare for that.

A 3-4 defense doesn’t cause an offense a lot of problems—a good 3-4 defense does.  A bad 3-4 defense sucks just as much as a bad 4-3 defense does—likewise, a good 4-3 defense causes just as many problems for an offense as a good 3-4 does.  The schemes have different inherent strengths, but what matters most is the talent and execution.

The Bills's 4-3 has been somewhere between pretty good and really good over the past decade or so; their problem has been an inconsistent running game and terrible quarterback play.  Dismantling the only part of a team that was working makes no sense to me—but I’m glad Chan Gailey decided to do it, because their loss is our gain.

Gunther Cunningham caused a bit of a flap recently, when he hinted that Kansas City’s switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 was forcing them let good young players go—players he knew well, like Turk McBride.  Jason Hunter’s another young Lions role player, and he was ousted in Green Bay when they switched alignments.

It’s true that Ashlee Palmer isn’t going to step in and outperform Ernie Sims—he may not even make the roster.  But this is a kid who stepped in and made himself valuable in a good defense, with no expectations whatsoever.  If DeAndre Levy really is going to start in the middle this year, then a committed, driven young player like that will doubtlessly be a factor in relief of Sims.

It’s good to see Martin Mayhew using and abusing that waiver priority again.  Lions’ll continue to have dibs on almost everyone when good young players are trashed due to a scheme change—here’s hoping that sifting through them all uncovers some treasures.


popeww,  February 21, 2010 at 7:20 AM  

sorry to spazz this on your board again, but i'm obsessed with this draft strategy: hopefully i'll get online again (no net at home) to read a response, or feel free to email me at with responses or any lions discussions.

anyway, my draft plan is suh at 2 (bradford is going at 1 IMO) and terrence cody at 34. start cody next to sammie lee (yes, that's 700 pounds!!) at DT, with suh at RE and avril/white at LE on 1st and second down, leaving that unit in on 3rd and short, but on obvious passing downs you pull cody, slide suh to DT next to sammie lee, and start white and avril at ends, adding the speed to catch up to screens and sweep plays. my main starting lineup features a 330 lb DT next to a 370 lb DT, a 290 lb pass rusher (suh) at RE, and your choice of a 265 pass rusher (avril) or a 270 lb cagey vet at LE.

#1, people are not running up the middle for 3rd and 1 anymore

#2, the power of the D line is going to require teams to hold TE's and Rb's in for chip blocks, helping our bad secondary

#3, this would give us a lot of options with our blitz packages.

Mike R,  February 22, 2010 at 2:11 PM  


I like your plan as a microcosm of defense alone, however there is one major problem with it, and it's the fact that the lions have no running game for eating up clock. Big meaty linemen tend to wear down quickly, and without an offense that can control the ball, towards the end of the game they wind up being large blobs of nothing in the middle of the field (example Shaun Rogers).

With a ball control offense, though, that could be pretty stout. It would make the rest of the D much better.

RIP,  February 23, 2010 at 11:51 AM  

This is a very interesting story for KC.

Will the go with a franchise QB, which is the financial smart move, or go with one of the DTs.

Then there is the move to the 34 and what priority they want to incorparate with it. Is it to stop the run with the 3 linemen, or is it to put pressure on the pocket.

From what I have read so far, Suh is projected to be the better two gap run stopper. My concern with him is a report that he lost weight during the season.

KC will dictate what we do with our second choice. If I had a choice between the 2, it would be McCoy.

I also believe a franchise DT is more hard to find then a LT.

With that being stated, I would not mind a saftey to go with Delmus skills, a lock down corner, or a running back. Remember that a RB will touch the ball 2-5, or more, then any one WR.

Ty,  February 23, 2010 at 4:13 PM  


Dude, no problem! Sorry to harsh the draftnik buzz again, but of course I always say, wait for the combine . . .

No problems with Suh at the first pick, but then Cody? Cody's impact in 2010 wouldn't be any greater than Grady Jackson's, except that Jackson's proven he can make an impact for a couple-three snaps a game. Cody's got very serious weight and motivational issues--and besides that, with what seems like two dozen teams switching to a 3-4, he'll be in extremely high demand. The Bills, Chiefs, or Broncos will probably have him rated more highly than the Lions will.

I'm very solidly on board with the "best available" strategy; there are holes at every level of the offense and defense.


Ty,  February 23, 2010 at 4:15 PM  

Mike R--

Yeah, the running game is going to have to be addressed. I would not be surprised to see a runningback, a guard, or both, in the first three rounds. If that other pick goes to a DT, DE, or MLB, I wouldn't be surprised by that, either.


Ty,  February 23, 2010 at 4:19 PM  


Do you mean Seattle, with the first overall pick? Kansas City actually picks fifth. Seattle's in the same situation we were last year: way too many holes, the biggest one is quarterback, and you take a quarterback at 1.1 if one's even kind of good enough.


RIP,  February 24, 2010 at 6:39 PM  


My bad for I meant the Rams with the first pick.

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