Old Mother Hubbard: 2010 NFL Draft Recap

>> 4.26.2010

Let's review the Lions' 2010 NFL draft shopping list:

  • A developmental quarterback who could push Stanton in camp.
  • A starting, three-down power runningback with speed.
  • A developmental power-blocking fullback, to complement Jerome Felton.
  • A left tackle, who could be groomed to replace Jeff Backus.
  • A power-blocking center, to be groomed behind Raiola.
  • A starting, disruptive pass-rushing DT to rotate w/Williams & Hill.
  • A starting, three-down, two-way defensive end, a la Kyle Vanden Bosch.
  • A developmental middle linebacker.
  • A starting, athletic, blitzing outside linebacker, a la Julian Peterson.
  • At least one starting cornerback.
  • A starting safety, who’s very strong in pass coverage.

I'll be reprising last year's Meet the Cubs series, so I won't go into depth on each pick just yet--but look at the way the Lions addressed those needs. In fact, I'd say they may have strayed from their "BATFAN" strategy. Of course, Suh was the consensus #1 overall prospect, and fit a need, so he was unquestionably the Best Available That Fits A Need. However, the move back up to get Best was an attempt to get a specific player to fill a specific need.

Given the undeniably special talent Best possesses, and the perfect fit he represents, it was a good move--but it wasn't just taking BATFAN when their pick came up. It's worth noting that I was wrong about the Lions and Best; it sounds like he was their target all along, as Killer had said. Rather than a power back with speed, they now have a home-run-hitting speed back, who's strong enough to hold up for three downs.

After the trade up for Best, the Lions stood pat throughout the second round, and into the third, finally taking Amari Spievey when their next pick came around. Spievey, arguably, wasn't the even consensus best corner on the board at that point. Again, I have no knowledge of the Lions' prospect grades, nor do I know what their assessment of their own cornerbacks. But in my eyes, it's undeniable: the Lions reached to fill a need, because the need was great, and later picks wouldn't fill it.

I'm not quite sure what to make of this. Am I wrong, and the Lions took the top player left on their board? Am I wrong, and the Lions don't see corner as an extreme need? Or, are the Lions beginning to see their roster one that has a few "holes" that must be "filled" instead of a lifeless vaccuum, desperate for any talent that can be found?

It could be any of those reasons--or all, or some, or none of those reasons. I wouldn't be the first to compare the Spievey pick to last year's controversial third-round choice, DeAndre Levy. Of course, Levy didn't take long to endear himself to the Lions' coaches and fans. But on the day he was drafted he still appeared to be a reach for a great need; I can only hope Spievey turns out as well as Levy.

The remaining picks appear to stick to the BATFAN philosophy-and in fact, did a very good job of getting intriguing prospects in the fourth and seventh rounds. When you add in the UDFA signing of FB Matt Clapp, the Lions came very close to snagging the entire shopping list--when I'd said it wouldn't be possible. Here's what's left:

  • A developmental quarterback who could push Stanton in camp.
  • A power-blocking center, to be groomed behind Raiola.
  • A starting, three-down, two-way defensive end, a la Kyle Vanden Bosch.
  • A developmental middle linebacker.
  • A starting, athletic, blitzing outside linebacker, a la Julian Peterson.
  • A starting safety, who’s very strong in pass coverage.

There's a little more information yet to consider: at one point, during the second day, Tom Kowalski reported via Twitter that there was a rumor that Cliff Avril had been traded to Miami for a fifth-round pick. Killer then called the Lions to confirm, and the Lions told Killer that:

After a few phone calls -- and a lot of stern denials -- it was clear the Lions were not trading Avril. In fact, the Lions actually are very happy with Avril's approach to the offseason. He showed up with an extra 10 pounds of muscle and has been working very hard during the offseason workouts. Avril, who has a better relationship with new defensive line coach Kris Kocurek than he did with the recently retired Bob Karmelowicz, has turned up his intensity.

Well, if that's all true, we can optimistically pencil in Avril as the starting left end. And, while we're at it, we can assume the Lions aren't interested in pushing Stanton, either--they didn't even sign a UDFA quarterback as a camp arm. Therefore, the remaining list looks like this:

  • A power-blocking center, to be groomed behind Raiola.
  • A developmental middle linebacker.
  • A starting, athletic, blitzing outside linebacker, a la Julian Peterson.
  • A starting safety, who’s very strong in pass coverage.

So, the Lions are only an outside linebacker and a free safety away from having a playoff-caliber starting lineup? Well, no. We're presuming that all of these free agent signees and drafted-to-start rookies actually step in and play at a high level, which never happens. My personal rule of thumb is that when a team acquires a player to step in and start, it works out about 50% of the time. So, take Suh, Best, Spievey, Scheffler, Sims, Houston, Burleson, Vanden Bosch, and Williams, and flip a coin for each. Anyone who comes up "tails", assume their role will be on next year's shopping list.

Have I depressed you? Sorry; I didn't mean to--and you shouldn't be depressed, anyway. The amount of talent the Lions have added in this offseason is impressive--and when you consider just how far the roster has come since I stared this blog, the day Mayhew and Lewand took over, it's nothing short of astonishing. Of course, it's all on paper until we see it on the field, but this draft did nothing to shake my faith that this time, things really will be different.


21 comments:

Anonymous,  April 26, 2010 at 8:38 AM  

I'm trying to figure how much the Lions compromised their Batfan approach with the Best pick.

If as they say, they had a very high ranking on him and everyone else who was on the board was ranked much much lower then maybe it is batfan...

Anonymous,  April 26, 2010 at 8:40 AM  

Amen Brother!!!

Joe Willy April 26, 2010 at 9:50 AM  

I was disappointed as I wanted them to stockpile mid round picks in a deep draft and they went the opposite way. But I can't argue with getting 2 legitimate first rounders and potential impact players on both sides of the ball.

I still see too big a hole at CB and OLB to feel good though, despite getting Suh. Last year I thought we had decent DBs but no pass rush and so far it looks like we'll get a good pass rush but I have no faith in the DBs. That said, I was looking at available free agents and there's still enough out there to fill some holes- heck, I think King and Henry are still both unsigned if they need to bring them back. Trotter from Philly is still available- you could sign him and slide Levy back outside. People question Follett's ability to start but I remember teams grading him higher than the 7th round he was picked in because of injury concerns.

I'm a bit hesitant to grouse about who they didn't pick because they need guys who fit their system and well-known players don't always have the skills Schwartz may want. People also forget that a lot of teams pass on these guys and it's often because of known problems that came out in interviews which aren't made public but seem to be known by every GM. I think they try to fill holes but only with guys who fit the system and would do well in the locker room.

I think the Best trade and pick exemplifies their approach. Two biggest needs were CB and RB. They had top grades on X number of guys at each position and knew they wanted one with their 2nd round pick and another with their 3rd. As the 1st round ended you could see the picks lining up and realize they couldn't get a top-tier CB or RB with their 34th pick and had to make a move. It's obvious they had a high grade on Best and knew they liked Spievey and could wait on him (I think based on what other teams thought maybe they could have waited, but at least they made sure not to miss him even if they slightly reached (can't kill them for reaching in the 3rd, knowing they didn't draft until much later in the 4th due to the Best trade).

sJe April 26, 2010 at 9:57 AM  

Heads: success, Tails: failure

Suh Best Spievey Scheffler Sims Houston Burleson
Heads, Heads, Tails (as a #1/2 CB), Heads, Heads, Tails, Tails,
KVB Williams
Tails (on field performance), Heads

Anonymous,  April 26, 2010 at 10:34 AM  

Do either Gerberry or Gandy qualify as a developmental center behind Raiola?

Ty April 26, 2010 at 11:17 AM  

Anon--

Right, but even if Speivey was all alone atop their draft board, and clearly the best choice, you still have to wonder what they see in him that others don't . . . again, though, they found the diamond in the rough in Levy, so you ahve to kind of take it on faith.

Peace
Ty

Mike aka @CJ81TD,  April 26, 2010 at 12:38 PM  

Spievey seems like a player suited to be a nickel CB. Time will tell of course but I am still disappointed they didn't get Lito. This far into the rebuild I think we are all used to the idea of these vets being stop gap players and Lito would of been a great example of that. I hope Spievey is a self confident guy cause other OCs are going to go after him hard (obviously) and CBs with more talent (Westbrook) have been ruined by their early failures. All that said, a revived pass rush will change everything so fingers crossed for that.

Looking forward to your draft grades Ty. Good work as always on the blog.

Eric (aka Jumbotron84),  April 26, 2010 at 1:46 PM  

Ty - great write-up as always. I like the 50% motto of the additions. Its obvious not everyone will produce for various reasons ... its even harder to think they all will when they are additions for the lions.

I defended the staff in last years draft (hence the Jumbotron nickname on mlive) and they (for the most part) lived up to my defense. Lets hope they don't let me down this year.

"On Paper" they seem to be a patched up offense. As fickle football fans, we are always looking to replace the weakest link. For me that next link is Gosh @ RT at this point. I feel we have pretty good overall depth on the oline, so for me thats not even a huge concern.

Then on to the defense. My burning question: Who was gunther's mystery linebacker, and is the olb spot vacated by sims going to be replaced with one of the players left on the roster or are there bigger plans?

I would expect there will be a few apples to pick up from a few teams that are shedding starting-caliber cb's or olb's in the second free-agency to at least give the incumbent defense a run for the starting spot.

I think so far my tally was 8 new starters with only two starters lost (foote & sims)

Anonymous,  April 26, 2010 at 1:52 PM  

Speivey was the top ranked CB left on Scouts Inc. (ESPN) board when we drafted him. He was their 71st rated player overall and we drafted him with the 66th pick so I would say we stuck to BATFAN for him.

LionsFanRoc,  April 26, 2010 at 2:20 PM  

If I had to guess the people that will work out and play at a high level are: Suh, KVB, Scheffler, Sims

Up in the air (in my mind): Williams (can he come back to a 4-3 and make an immediate impact?), Best (only because of injuries), Spievey (rookie CB's don't usually do well)

Won't work out: Burleson, Houston

I still the needs of the team are this (in order of importance): starting CB, starting OLB, starting S, DE depth, OT depth, LB depth

Now if Follett or Ashlee Palmer who is underrated can step up and start then OLB is out the window, and if Avril truly steps up his game we can lower the DE need.

Ty April 26, 2010 at 3:39 PM  

Joe Willy--

"I was disappointed as I wanted them to stockpile mid round picks in a deep draft and they went the opposite way."

Yeah, I felt exactly the same way. I was hoping the Lions might move down, move some future picks, or move some current players to add second- and third-round selections, and instead they sacrificed value in the fourth to move up for Best. Still, though, I think they got much more value in return than they gave up. What's the difference in value between Jahvid Best and the next-best tailback (McCluster or Gerhart)? Okay, now realize that the only tackle that came off the board in between the 4.2 and the 4.30 is Bruce Campbell, who probably wasn't much higher than Fox on the Lions' board anyway.

I do agree with the general sentiment that they know their needs, and they know their board, much better than any of us do. And, again, given the Levy example, we know that they know how to get players that fit their scheme., and we know their mid-round draft boards won't look quite like the consensus. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, but it's always nice to feel like your team had a slam-dunk draft, as opposed to feeling like it'll all probably work out.

Peace
Ty

Anonymous,  April 26, 2010 at 3:43 PM  

How about REPLACING Raiola. He is vastly overrated and overpaid. It is why every team's MLB has a field day against Detroit. Just look at his clean jersey at the end of every game...and he plays center? No wonder he is never hurt.

Ty April 26, 2010 at 3:51 PM  

sJe--

Actually, of the veterans that were brought in, I think Burleson's the most sure thing. He's a Linehan disciple, was tremendously productive in Seattle when healthy, and is a picture-perfect complement to Megatron. As you note, KVB was far from dominant last season, and as far as I'm concerned, Houston and Williams are both total crapshoots.

Peace
Ty

Ty April 26, 2010 at 4:15 PM  

Eric (Jumbotron84)--

If Gosder the Gozerian is the weak spot on the offense, the Lions are in pretty damn good shape. I'd say the offense is far, far more than "patched up", it'd say it's been completely overhauled. I'm both excited and concerned about the youth of the skill players: Stafford, Megatron, Best, Silent Bob, Jumbotron, Scheffler, Sims, and Gosder are all extremely talented young players who could be the core of the team for the next five years. However, that means that Burleson, Backus, Raiola, and Peterman are the only dudes who've been a full-time starter for more than a year or two. I'm hoping the young players can handle the increased expectations.

I guess we'll never know Gunther's Secret Crush, though I suspected Donald Butler from Washington. OLB is going to be a spot the Lions may just have to make do with, but I think a corner may yet be in the offing . . .

Peace
Ty

Ty April 26, 2010 at 4:24 PM  

Anon w/the Scouts Inc. info:

Oh, well that's surprising and cool to know. I don't think that board synched with a lot of the drafnik mocks and lists I saw--but I'm down with matching up with Scouts Inc. more than the Internet Consensus.

Peace
Ty

Neil April 26, 2010 at 6:42 PM  

The thing is, if we had drafted a linebacker, people would be complaining that we didn't draft a cornerback. If we had drafted a center, people would be bitching that we didn't find a running back and on and on and on.

I think Mayhew, Schwartz and co. did the best they could with what they had to work with. They filled a few positions of need while also getting good value with those picks.

I like Spievey. I don't think he'll be a big time blue chipper star, but I think he can be a tough, tough NFL player for several years. Right now, given our secondary, I'll take that.

Mrom07 April 26, 2010 at 6:51 PM  

WOO! GO LIONS! We are going to do work next year and gain some respect : )

Mike aka @CJ81TD,  April 26, 2010 at 7:57 PM  

The underlying theme from last year continuing on through this most recent draft is plugging holes and having them stay plugged. In other words, Mayhew and Co. would rather have 2 super blue chip stud players as opposed to a bunch of "good" players. The beauty part of this past draft is that they were actually able to do both. Suh and Best are blue chips by any standard (unless you are in the concerned by injury history camp) and the free agent class is predominantly made up of young-ish established players who should be serviceable for several years to come. No reason not to be optimistic. The real question is what will this team's ceiling be. I've heard a lot of 6-10. Personally, I will take the over on that one.

Jimmerz,  April 26, 2010 at 10:13 PM  

Not sure I'd say we got our "starting, three-down power runningback with speed" in Best. Starting? Maybe, by default. Three down? Highly unlikely, even if Smith isn't back yet. Power? Definitely not. Speed? Absolutely.

Bill April 27, 2010 at 6:50 AM  

I'm surprised there is so much negative sentiment about Corey Williams. Of all the players the Lions picked up in free agency, he was statistically the best last year even though he was playing "out of position". My expectation is that he could be one of the best of the Lions free agent acquisitions.

The biggest hole is still the DB group. There is no proven safety to pair with Delmas, and the Lions don't know who will win either of the starting CB spots, let alone the nickel position. The pass rush will have to be outstanding to keep the pressure off this group. They'll probably look at what they have in mini camps before deciding whether to add Pacman Jones or some other late FA pickup.

Mike,  April 28, 2010 at 10:54 PM  

DE Willie Young, the 7th round pick. Let's open a discussion about him as an OLB. It's not irrational. Here's why.

Young is an undersized DE coming to a team that has little need for another speed rushing DE.

The greater need now is for an OLB. Can Young learn the techniques necessary to adapt to a new role? Can Young cover in space? How are his ball skills?

I'd bet a dollar to a doughnut that Gunther Cunningham will test Young's skills, and challenge Young to adapt, or perish.

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