Neither Rain, Nor Snow, Nor Sleet . . . Mailbag!

>> 4.07.2010

It’s been a while since we’ve had a good solid Mailbag post, but the email’s been piling up, and it’s time.  First, from Dan:

Supposing we take Suh in the first round, who do you think we look at in the second and third? I would love to get Best in the second, but I feel we really need a cornerback. Good corners can generally be drafted in the top two rounds, after that there is usually a significant drop-off. This is especially true in this draft. Moreover, I think there is better depth at RB in the third and fourth rounds, as opposed to the cornerback position. I know we are looking at BPA, but it only makes sense to take a hard look at corners in the second, and hope for a solid running back in the third.

First, I agree completely that corner is a top need. With the trade for Corey Williams, and the presumed (in real life and in your scenario) drafting of Ndamukong Suh, cornerback is actually the top need.  Further, you’ve correctly assessed the field at tailback: after Spiller and Best, the next three or four best runningbacks are of the size/power variety; that’s not what the Lions are looking for.

In the second round, I’ve been hoping that Boise State’s Kyle Wilson will be there, but his stock has been rising so high, that’s no longer realistic.  He’s such a perfect fit for what the Lions want to do: he’s a smooth athlete, very quick, more than fast enough, and absolutely loves to jam and press and hit.  He’s be a perfect fit for the smart, tough, talented defense the Lions are building.

The Lions are bringing in Florida State CB Patrick Robinson, another late-first/early-second-type.  Robinson is a very quick, fluid athlete who didn’t quite meet the elite expectations he set in his sophomore year.  He has the physical ability to blanket people, and plays with high effort, but I wonder if he’ll be as physical at the line.  Has a really good knack for breaking up passes, though, and would be our most talented corner by a longshot.

If the Lions do go RB in the second, keep an eye on Kentucky CB Trevard Lindley.  He was projected as a second-rounder last year by the NFL Draft Advisory Committee, but opted to stay in school.  Partly thanks to a high ankle sprain, his stock fell, instead of climbing into the first, as he’d hoped.  Lindley’s a natural man-to-man cover guy, tall, long, and with great ball skills.  Doesn’t have the elite speed of a Robinson, but could develop into an excellent cover corner.

Steve asks:

I've heard some rumors that we might trade our 2 for Washington's 4 and Haynesworth. Good idea? Assuming that Mayhew is able to talk the 'skins into buying up a reasonable amount of his contract, I'm all for it. I doubt it would happen but our Defense could end up with KVB, Fat Albert and PacMan next year. Thanks for all your hard work.

Okay, first: is Haynesworth available?  PFT’s take on the Redskins shopping Haynesworth, and whether or not they really are, is in harmony with what I’ve read between the lines.  Michael Schottey recently tweeted that KVB, and Haynesworth, would like to put the band back together in Detroit.  Schottey then reported that Haynesworth’s interest in the Lions might be reciprocal.

I've said it many times before: when teams switch systems, they shed pieces that don't fit, and Albert Haynesworth does not fit as a 3-4 space eater.  He’s like a Super Suh, a prototypical 4-3 one-gap pass-rushing DT scaled up to enormous proportions; it’s why he commanded a $100M contract in the first place.

Oh, right, that contract.  With the Redskins just having paid out a $21M roster bonus, the remainder of Haynesworth’s contract is a very managable $16M over the next three seasons, with another huge bonus after that (which would force a restructure or release).  The ‘Skins would likely want some compensation for that $21M bonus, but Haynesworth’s mind-boggling contract is really pretty manageable now.

The issue, for me, is motivation.  Haynesworth completely checked out last season, just as many predicted he would.  He turned it “on” for two years, got paid, and turned it “off”.  KVB or no, Schwartz familiarity or no, the Lions would have to be damned sure that bringing in Haynesworth wouldn’t torpedo everything they’ve built up to this point . . . and if I were the Lions, I don’t think I could be damned sure.

Scott asks:

Mr Inwinter:

Yeah, this still cracks me up every time.

Question: Why do none of the 4 million O-line scenarios being floated include Cherilus moving inside to guard? Dude is a 6 out of 10 RT on his best day, but has the mass to play inside and, one would hope, something left of the talent and desire that made him a first round pick.

I think they should trade down if they do not think any of the LTs are worth the pick. Otherwise, take Okung, play him or Backus at RT and move Gos the Not So Great or Terrible inside.

Well first of all, Gosder Cherilus stands 6'-7" tall, and weighs 325 pounds.  That’s big for a tackle; it’s elephantine for a guard.  At that height, interior linemen impede the quarterback’s vision into the passing lanes, especially for short slants and hooks.  It’s what made Raiola the perfect WCO center; at only 6’-0”, the quarterback can always see the interior routes the offense depends on.

Secondly, Cherilus would immediately be at a leverage disadvantage against DTs who weigh about as much but are four inches shorter.  Trying to get lower than someone whose shoulders are his belly would be futile.  Rod Marinelli would wince at his pad level.  Moreover, guards have to be able to pull.  Cherilus could probably win one-on-ones “in a phone booth”, as they say, but he’s still struggling to consistently drop his hips and scooch side-to-side; I don’t see him taking naturally to running free in space to take out guys in the second level.

Finally, Stephen Peterman has been playing very well at right guard, so the Lions would either have to displace him over to left, or relegate new signee Rob Sims to the bench.  No, Gosder the Gozerian is a pure right tackle, and when he’s dialed in he’s a very very good one.  His limitations are more mental than physical—and according to’s Tara Ryan, Cherilus may finally be “getting it”:

I grew up. I’m trying to do all of the little things right. I’m taking yoga classes and I show up here and do some extra stretches.  I changed the way I eat and the way I do certain things because at the end of the day if you want to do these things, right now is the time.

I can only hope this is true—and if it is, the Lions are going to be set at right tackle for years to come.

Technorati Tags: nfl,detroit lions,gosder cherilus,kyle wilson,albert haynesworth,washington redskins,nfl draft


TuffLynx,  April 8, 2010 at 3:23 PM  

Great observation about Cherilus Ty. I have often wondered why so many scenarios for the offensive line include moving so many people around. The skills at the different line positions are not the same. I admit, I have even slumped to that level myself even though I know better. It is tempting to manufacture fixes for the o-line since the Lions have only made modest efforts to address it.

I agree that Cherilus is either a right tackle, or he is off the roster. He does not have the footwork and agility to be a left tackle and he is too big and clunky to play inside. Right tackle is the only place he really fits. But I think that many people have watched guys like Robert Gallery play at guard and think that Cherilus can move in there.

I admit that I was intrigued by the idea of Backus moving inside. Unlike Cherilus, he is not too big and clunky to play inside. There are quite a few guys that are about Backus' size playing in there. But one thing really intrigued me. What do you think about Backus becoming a center? Do you think he could pull it off?

My curiosity with this idea comes from the fact that Backus is very experienced and probably understands line calls very well. He can learn to snap the ball, and being in what is essentially a four-point stance will allow him to get low. I know that is a real serious adjustment, but I think Backus could manage it.

If the Lions were to get a left tackle prospect, he probably would not beat Backus for the job right away. But if Backus did lose the job, he might not have a spot waiting at guard any more. Peterman showed he can be pretty good at right guard and Rob Sims will hopefully fill the spot at left guard. The weakest link remaining on the line may be Dominic Raiola.

While Raiola is not a "bad" center, he is also not a premier center. He is feisty, but he does lack the size that the best centers in the NFL have. Rankings of NFL centers place Raiola in the middle of the pack for the most part.

Backus is closer to the prototypical size for a center. Can he play there for a few seasons and be an upgrade? If he can, then he is cheaper than Raiola as well. The Lions might be able to get a late round draft pick for Dom.

Anonymous,  April 9, 2010 at 2:08 PM  

Shuffling players around to positions they have never played before is problematical and would result in a performance downgrade of the entire offensive line during the experiment. If the Lions select a Left OT during the 2010 draft, then it must be someone 1)who is a very promising developmental "project" (like Murtha last year) but 2) who has actually played various OL positions or has proven to be quite versatile.

Moreover, this player must be able to provide immediate depth so he can make the final roster. Trying to hide someone like Murtha on the practice squad did not work last year and it is unlikely that it would work this year. Hopefully, of course, this player could become Backus' successor.

Last year, the Lions had problems 1) getting the OL/TE/RBs on the same page insofar as picking up blitzes/pass rushers, 2) getting the QB/RBs/WRs to read the defense and run the appropriate routes, and 3) getting the defensive secondary to cover and switch off on the appropriate receivers (though admittedly, the CBs just couldn't handle their assignments on occassion). It is important that these groups start seeing the same thing, start making the same reads, and start executing their assignments so they can play together effectively. Experimenting with the Offensive Line can only be detrimental to this process.

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