Mikel Leshoure Out For Year; Lions Doomed Forever

>> 8.08.2011

Well, it was bound to happen. From Mikel Leshoure’s Meet the Cubs scouting report:

LeShoure reminds me of another Lions running back, one who stood a very similar 6’-1”, 224: James Stewart. Stewart, like LeShoure, made a lot of hay between the tackles—and if Stewart lacked a certain je ne sais quoi in comparison, he probably hit a little bit harder. Both had excellent acceleration into “good” straight-line speed, both played faster than their reputation or clock times would suggest. Stewart, though, struggled mightily to stay healthy . . . let’s hope LeShoure doesn’t have that problem.

This morning Mikel Leshoure ruptured his Achilles tendon, ending his 2011 Lions campaign, maybe his career, definitely the Lions’ playoff chances for the next five years, and also every reason you had to ever be happy again. Or, you know, not.

The culture of hype surrounding the NFL draft, and NFL draft picks, leads us to believe that every rookie drafted in the first few rounds should make an immediate impact on the bottom line. That every team should be counting on its first few picks to step in and excel. That each and every talented rookie will blaze the trail to your teams’ glorious new era of dominance and winning. Only a handful of rookies achieve anything like this kind of instant success in any given year, yet we all go on believing it will happen with next season’s first hundred picks.

Mikel Leshoure was drafted to fill a need; the Lions will miss him. Here’s another paragraph from that scouting report:

Mikel LeShoure looks to be an excellent complement to Jahvid Best, much the way Stewart combined with Fred Taylor in Jacksonville. This isn’t a “thunder and lightning” situation, like Tiki Barber and Ron Dayne, or Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott. Some folks had LeShoure rated as their #1 workhorse back due to Ingram’s injury concerns; he and Best will doubtlessly find a mutually beneficial workload ratio. Together, they’ll spell each other, make each other more effective, and back each other up—the Lions’ offense shouldn’t ever be without a tailback that can keep defenses honest.

So, you want to know, who will the Lions add to fill that role? Nobody. Nobody else will fill that role. Anyone who can be 1b to Jahvid Best’s 1a is on another roster. There are “goal line backs” and “big backs” and used-up “veteran backs” with names you’ve heard of, but anyone who’s available right now likely won’t be as good as Maurice Morris, who grades out as a sightly-below-average heavy-rotation running back. The Lions had a need for Mikel Leshoure—that doesn’t mean they have a need for Clinton Portis.

After Best, Leshoure, and Morris, the Lions have tailback Aaron Brown, and fullbacks Jerome Felton, Matt Clapp, on the roster, as well as H-back Preston Dial. Those four guys were likely fighting for one, or possibly two spots—Leshoure going on IR means two, or possibly three, of those guys will be kept. This coaching staff seems to love Felton as a runner (when he isn’t fumbling), so he may be the “goal line back” going forward.

Part of building depth is understanding that you may have to use that depth. Though the lockout injury bug has struck the Lions’ “luxury pick” rookies hard, the starting 22 looks essentially the same: the pressure is on Ndamukong Suh, Jahvid Best, and Nate Burleson to succeed, just as it was last season—just because their rookie backups didn’t hit the ground running doesn’t mean the teams’ fortunes don’t still rest on their shoulders.

The Lions' season is not lost. What the Lions have lost is some breathing room, some, margin for error, and the lottery ticket stub that Young, Leshoure or Fairley each represent. Last year, they won the Mega Millions with Suh; don’t think that just because the Powerball didn’t  bounce their way in 2011 that these kids won’t become productive Lions soon. And, just because Mikel will be “pressing the pause button,” as Jahvid Best said, don’t think that you need to hit “Eject” on your hopes. The Lions’ short-tem picture has not dimmed; they will still win more games than they lose.

27 comments:

Lankownia August 8, 2011 at 3:38 PM  

I get that you want people not to panic. I also get that Fairley and LeShoure don't impact 2011 very much. But...

A big reason the Lions are in a position to, if things go well, 'win more games than they lose' is because the 2010 draft success and the seasons before it. Take away the '10 1st and 2nd round picks from the 2011 team and things don't look nearly as good.

If you fail to get production out of your draft picks your margin for error gets really small. This is a small setback for the season but a significant setback for the franchise.

Ty August 8, 2011 at 3:43 PM  

Lankownia--

Obviously, I disagree. Young and Fairley were only going to be rotational contributors anyway, and Young's already back practicing, and Fairley should be back in time for the regular season. Leshoure was going to be a part of it, but the passing offense and the defensive front are the identity of the team--and so far, none of that has changed.

If you're going to be concerned, be concerned about the offensive tackle situation.

Peace
Ty

Lankownia August 8, 2011 at 3:48 PM  

Let me put it another way:

Having the loss of your top draft picks be irrelevant (as the case may be for the 2011 Lions) is not a sustainable recipe for success over time.

DreamKatari August 8, 2011 at 4:12 PM  

Obviously Im not liking how people are trying to make it seem like injuries to our top draft picks arent a big deal.

Lankownia is 100% correct.

Nobody is in panic mode. But these draft picks were the reason peoplw are so high on the Lions this season. They called our DLine the Silver Crush because of Farley coming here! Now all of a sudden Farley is "just a rotational guy" and Leshoure is the "backup RB".

I smell spin and damage control and frankly this smells of cornbread and koolaid.

Ty August 8, 2011 at 4:18 PM  

Okay, but I'm not talking about "over time." I'm talking about this season, and the Lions weren't counting on any of those three to start. At this point, there's no reason to believe that Fairley, Young, and Leshoure can't/won't be major contributors next season . . .

Bottom line, this is unfortunate, but the important parts: the front office, the coaches, the quarterback, etc. are all in place. Even if this draft class never gets off the ground, this team has everything it needs to be consistently successful.

Peace
Ty

Ty August 8, 2011 at 4:28 PM  

DreamKatari--

"But these draft picks were the reason peoplw are so high on the Lions this season. They called our DLine the Silver Crush because of Farley coming here! Now all of a sudden Farley is "just a rotational guy" and Leshoure is the "backup RB"."

Sure, and people thought Fairley and Suh were going to play next to each other, too. I have been pretty consistent in saying that Fairley is basically the same player as Suh, a penetrating three-tech tackle, and that the Lions' defensive line was special well before they drafted Fairley:

http://www.thelionsinwinter.com/2011/06/meet-cubs-nick-fairley.html

"he Lions have built a truly special unit, a group of players and coaches who will define the identity of this team for years to come. If Nick Fairley wants to get where he says he wants to go, all he’ll have to do is show up in Allen Park and follow his teammates’ lead."

. . . so anyway, I disagree. If people were high on the Lions for 2011 because of Fairley, Leshoure, and Young then they were high on the Lions for the wrong reasons. Stafford, Johnson, Best, Suh, Williams, KVB, Avril, Lo-Jack, Tulloch, Levy, Delmas . . . . these guys are why you should be high on the Lions for 2011. Fairley, Leshoure, and Young had/have roles on this year's team, but they were more for the future than the present.

Peace
Ty

Lankownia August 8, 2011 at 4:31 PM  

@DreamKatari

I think the '09-'10 draft picks are why people are so high on the Lions, not the '11 guys.

The Lions went from drafting Harrington, Edwards, Rogers, Baily, Williams, Sims, etc. to drafting Stafford, Pettigrew, Suh, Delmas, Best, Levy. They went from missing frequently to missing almost never.

The future is far from determined yet, but LeShoure and Fairley are off to ominous starts.

'Well, we didn't need him anyway' is fine for this season but in the long run it won't work. You have to convert draft picks into production or you lose. End of story. Not every time, but often, and particularly at the top of the draft. The resurgence of the franchise and the current optimism is based heavily on the Lions' success at the top of the draft. Given that, it's strange to dismiss the import of the 2011 guys.

If nothing else, these young players are losing practice time and experience that would facilitate them being important players when they ARE needed. And, to be sure, if they're never needed then they won't be very good draft picks.

Anonymous,  August 8, 2011 at 5:54 PM  

While I am not going to go so far as saying you are spinning this. But the rose colored glasses need to come off. There is an economics term that fits this situation well. Its called opportunity costs. The Lions traded away multiple picks to acquire Lesure. They basically lost all of those draft picks for nothing. Unless there is a miracle Lesure is effectively done as a player. Taking all the picks used to draft him along for the ride.

Add in that there are major concerns regarding Young and Fairley contributing anything this year and you have completely gutted the Lions draft class. Young wont have enough reps to help out and Fairley main concern was conditioning. I dont think being forced to sit even more because of the lockout will help any.

In short this draft just got Millened

briandtw August 8, 2011 at 6:13 PM  

If you're a Lions fan the goals for this season should still be the same today as they were on Sunday -- you want the Lions to be in contention for a playoff spot. Nothing more and nothing less. This is not a Super Bowl contender and not a bottom feeder any longer. The injuries we've suffered don't and shouldn't change the goal.

Mayhew has been building this team for the long haul -- the draft picks this year were more about that than a win-now philosophy. A "win-now" philosophy only three years removed from the worst season in pro sports history would be pretty stupid indeed. Repeat after me - "The sky is not falling."

Jeremy August 8, 2011 at 6:15 PM  

" If people were high on the Lions for 2011 because of Fairley, Leshoure, and Young then they were high on the Lions for the wrong reasons. Stafford, Johnson, Best, Suh, Williams, KVB, Avril, Lo-Jack, Tulloch, Levy, Delmas . . . . these guys are why you should be high on the Lions for 2011."

I love this sentence.


Anyway, it seems like most of you aren't really on opposite sides of the argument. Everyone agrees that this makes the draft class LOOK bad. The difference is that some of you seem to be burying the future of these guys as if they'll never see the field again. Granted, an Achilles injury isn't easy to come back from, but to write off his season as "over" is ridiculous.

As for this year, I like to compare to last season. Last year, I would call the Lions' offense average, or maybe slightly better. Factor in that this year (as of right now) we have a healthy Best and Stafford, this offense will undoubtedly be better (this is also assuming Backus is back...I know what assuming does, but stick with me).

I don't think anyone will argue that the Defense will be better than last year as well. So the outlooks is still very bright.

Jeremy August 8, 2011 at 6:17 PM  

crap, that was supposed to read "but to write off his CAREER as "over" is ridiculous.

Lankownia August 8, 2011 at 6:45 PM  

Is the draft class 'Millened'? I'm not sure what that means, but the opportunity cost point is legit.

If you don't get immediate production from your picks you need to make up for it by getting EXCELLENT production down the line. Otherwise you are not getting value on your (draftpick) investment. ML's prospects of providing value look dimmer today. For Fairley, they look the same - unknown.

Questions about the 2011 draft class are very much legitimate. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but pretending that their production in 2011 is irrelevant because the team doesn't need them is ridiculous. They may not be slated to make much of an impact in 2011, but that's one strike against them, not an argument for.

Anonymous,  August 8, 2011 at 7:09 PM  

I propose that having a draft class Millened is the following

Any draft class that get a very high ranking from fans and pundits which in fact turns out to have very little production.


People seem to forget many of the Lions draft classes under Millen were very highly rated, yet failed to produce any noticeable results. I know its early but so far the outlook seems very poor

briandtw August 8, 2011 at 7:24 PM  

"The outlook seems very poor"?

And what exactly are you basing that on -- a couple of fluke injuries before any member of the draft class has played a single meaningful NFL down? Johnny Culbreath could end up being a Hall of Famer. We don't know anything about this draft class yet, except that they've had some bad luck with injuries, which is not really something that you can kill an NFL GM for. Injuries suck, but they're a part of the game. Good teams get over it.

Anonymous,  August 8, 2011 at 7:38 PM  

I place no blame on Mayhew for this. You are correct that injuries happen. The basis of my point is this.

The Lions invested heavily in their top 3 picks. Unless there is a break though treatment Lesure will never be a productive back worth what the Lions paid. The Wr they selected has made it though 1/2 a practice and has been sidelined since. Considering Wr's rarely contribute the first year anyway this sets back any actual chance of help back greatly.

As for Fairley I think he was worth the risk as a pick. But there is a sizable risk with him (no pun intended). A player who's work ethic has been called into question, that is then thrown into a lockout shortened season and then has foot surgery in the first week of camp does not bode well for the beginning of a career.

long term any impact this class may have had not only had been greatly impacted by Lesure's injury. In the short term it appears there will be none at all.

The Lions while possibly being an up and coming team simply dont have the resources to have so little impact from a draft class.

telemakhos,  August 8, 2011 at 8:26 PM  

It astounds me how many people are talking about Leshoure's career being over. I feel like people say this about every season-ending injury and it never turns out to be true. Here's an excerpt from a research paper abstract:

"Following surgery, about 70 to 90% of athletes have a successful comeback after Achilles tendon injury. Surgery is required in about 25% of athletes with Achilles tendon overuse injuries and the frequency of surgery increases with patient age and duration of symptoms as well as occurrence of tendinopathic changes. However, about 20% of injured athletes require a re-operation for Achilles tendon overuse injuries, and about 3 to 5% are compelled to abandon their sports career because of these injuries."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7809555

So there's roughly a 5% chance of him being done? I'll take it. According to wikipedia, Lawrence Taylor and Dan Marino both had this injury and both came back to have productive seasons the next year, despite being injured later in the year than Leshoure was. Panic all you want about this season, because I do think he was slated to play an important role, but the man's career is not over by any means

Anonymous,  August 8, 2011 at 8:45 PM  

We are missing the big picture here. History shows most of the time a player misses OTAs they have get injured or have an offseason. So to expect anything different after what happened this year is expecting too much. With the new CBA with reductions to OTAs and 2 a day pads work, expect limited results like this in the future. The new CBA should have had 58 man rosters too instead of keeping at 53.

Anonymous,  August 8, 2011 at 9:01 PM  

And what is the papers definition of successful? If simply walking and returning is the goal then yes. But playing at a high level? I cant find a player who has.

Look I want him to come back. But the odds are much better to assume he wont be back and plan accordingly

Anonymous,  August 8, 2011 at 10:43 PM  

Before this latest rash of injuries, I thought the Lions offense and the defense were going to be in the top 5 in the NFL and the Lions would end the season at 14-2 or better (no, the kids drink cool aid and I drink scotch). Mikel's injury certainly hurts the offense but with a healthy Stafford I can still see them in the top 10. But remember, last spring many labeled the Nick Fairly, Mikel, and Titus picks as luxury picks, because the greater concern was the linebackers and defensive backs, which were considered the biggest holes on the whole team. Well, last I knew these 2 holes have been addressed, barring additional injuries, which means that the Lions have made significant improvements over last year regardless of Nick's, Mikel's, and Titus' status/contribution this season.

In a lockout year without OTA's expectations for rookies should be reduced, but in any case, Derek Williams is having a good camp, and his improvement may offset any lack of production from Titus. Fairly may not be able to contribute as much the first half of the season, but I'm sure he'll be part of the DT rotation later in the season. Mikel's absence will hurt the most, but hopefully, they can get some production from Clapp or their other fullbacks. But I would not expect any noteworthy RB pickups until September after the last of the roster cuts.

Like Ty, I am worried more about the OT situation (Backus and Fox). If the Lions cannot run effectivly, they will have to pass more, and that will expose any holes in their pass protection. This is where the loss of Mikel may be the most telling.

I've always said be careful what you wish for because you may get it and it may not be what you wanted. If Backus cannot play, his detractors may live to see the day where they actually long for the good old days when Backus was anchoring the Left OT spot.

Hopefully, Mikel will make 100% recovery from this injury. It would be a shame to have such a talent with such great potential end a career with such a injury.

Matt,  August 9, 2011 at 2:08 AM  

There's a whole spectrum of opinions here. I think to some extent we're splitting hairs. The overall questions seem to be "What we were expecting from the Lions/individual players in 2011?" and "How do current injuries impact these expectations?"

I'll go case-by-case, starting with LeShoure. He's out for the year and with a very serious injury. The upside is that it's early August and he's already out for the year. That means the Lions can move on without him, in whatever way they see fit, as early as possible. For LeShoure, individually, it means he has surgery and gets into rehab immediately to get as ready as possible for 2012. He also has youth on his side; this didn't happen to a 30 year old back with years of NFL wear and tear.

*Quenstion* - telemakhos and Anonymous got kind of statistical about this injury. I, off the top of my head, can't think of a NFL RB that had this injury. I can think of knees, toes, ankles, feet, hips, heads, shoulders, ribs, backs. . .but not an achilles. Anyone know ANYTHING about this injury and RBs?

So, 2011 is lost for LeShoure and, worst case scenario, he's effectively done. If this happens, it might be seen as a busted pick. But, really, it could happen to any player on any team (it just seems to happen a lot to the Lions). You certainly can't blame Mayhew. Mikel LeShoure was the right pick at the time. What were we expecting of him? At his healthy best, he and Jahvid would be a Thunder & Lightning combo. At his healthy worst, he'd at be a decent back-up and short yardage guy. I agree with Ty: now that LeShoure is out, the Lions can't replace his POTENTIAL with anyone on the market. So, why try? They might bring someone in or roll with who they've got. For 2011, it really doesn't matter. It's Best + ?

Matt,  August 9, 2011 at 2:09 AM  

Titus Young is one of the hairs we're splitting. It's an argument between "Rookie WRs rarely make an impact anyway" and "The lockout made every single practice vitally important, especially to rookies." Young's injury is not thought to be serious, but he is missing valuable time. So, again, how much were we expecting from a healthy Titus in the first place? A solid, field-stretching WR3. At worst, a typical rookie WR. Personally, I never expected Young to be "lights out" in 2011 anyway. I think his injury makes that only slightly less likely. It's not something to get all worked up about.

On to Nick Fairley, starting out with expectations. I think the ideal of Suh & Fairley as DT 1a & 1b was/is overambitious for 2011. The realistic ideal is a 3-to-5-headed monster including The CW, Sammie, and TBD. Fairley's role, with shortened off-season in mind, would basically be "go in there and kill the QB." So, with the injury/surgery/rehab in mind, Fairley can still certainly play this role effectively in 2011. Maybe just not right out of the gate. Like LeShoure, it's fortunate that the injury happened early and to a young player. Fairley should heal quickly and get back to killing QBs.

Finally, Backus. I saved him for last because, like others, this is the injury that concerns me most. With LeShoure, Young, and Fairley, we lost a #2 and two #3 guys (albeit important ones). With Backus, we lost our #1 LT. In terms of expectations, they vary wildly. I have been both a Backus-basher and defender. Whatever your personal expectations for Jeff Backus in 2011 were, you gotta' agree with Anonymous:

"If Backus cannot play, his detractors may live to see the day where they actually long for the good old days when Backus was anchoring the Left OT spot."

Backus was/is set to play a more integral roll for the 2011 Lions than LeShoure, Young, or Fairley were. The silver lining is that, unlike these youngsters, Backus doesn't need training camp to learn the playbook, etc. He's a professional with 160-some-odd starts under his belt. The cloud is that, given the specific injury, he COULD use as much time as possible to get back up to strength and into playing shape. Backus' early-season availability is very much in doubt and the pickings behind him are slim.

Matt,  August 9, 2011 at 2:10 AM  

The persistent naysayers point to this combination of injurious misfortune and say, "See? The Lions should have addressed the OL!" The naysayers are short on details, though. They forget/ignore the fact that there really weren't (m)any players available in the draft or free agency that would have legitimately challenged a healthy Backus, Sims, Raiola, Peterman, or Cherilus for a 2011 starting spot. A Carimi or Solder only contributes in 2011 if you ASSUME Backus or Cherilus gets hurt. Best case scenario for the Lions as a team: the rookie OL rides the pine all year and is an option in 2012. Under that same scenario, a healthy Fairley, LeShoure, and Young all serve as dynamic role players. On draft day, I like the strategy where, if everything goes according to plan, I've got three pretty darn good players instead of one good back-up. ***yes, I know I'm leaving out what the Lions may have done with their other picks after taking an OL***

To sum up, these injuries don't effect my opinion of the Lions 2011 draft/off-season at all. We made good moves, but had some bad luck. What else is new? LeShoure's injury hurts the worst because he's done for the year and possibly beyond. Young and Fairley will come along, it just might be even a little slower than we might have expected/hoped. Backus' is the most concerning overall. Whether you like him or not, he's a vital piece of the 2011 Lions. We need him healthy and knocking the rust off ASAP.

Daniel,  August 9, 2011 at 3:40 AM  

I'm not worried about the Lion's prospects long term. I'm totally convinced, Mayhew and Schwartz have us on the right track!

But I'm totally devastated for the kid LeShoure. He had the tools to be exceptional in this system, running hard, but also able to catch the ball downfield. Banger, but big play guy at the same time. The achilles is a bummer for such a big guy, where that strength in burst makes or breakes the position. And likely he won't get his back a 100%.

Also big question marks now on the RB position now: So what do you do next year? There is no telling in what shape LeShoure will come back. Do you wait? Or do want to be 'sure' you have big production from the position... but this means big bucks FA or early draft pick again.

LionsFanROC,  August 9, 2011 at 10:16 AM  

I'm not going to read all of the comments above, so if I repeat I apologize.

Look, this doesn't doom our offense to mediocrity like last year. In fact, the only thing that does doom our offense is Stafford going down or our offensive line imploding with injuries to the point where Tony Ugoh is a consistent starter. We were always being built as a passing offense and thus this offense goes as far as Stafford does. Will this hurt our balance a bit? Sure. But they just signed Jerome Harrison who is a pretty good back himself.

As for the defense, the only people this hurts is Suh and Williams, and it only hurts them in the short run. The defensive line is probably one of the easiest positions to learn mentally and while Fairley is going to have to get used to the speed of the game, he will come along more quickly than a rookie at another position. I agree with Ty saying he was a rotational guy. Suh and Williams were always going to be the starters with Fairley spelling one of them. Plus, he'll be ready for the regular season!

Let's not get our panties in a bunch. This team actually has depth and can cover for these injuries.

telemakhos,  August 9, 2011 at 12:08 PM  

Relying on a rookie to start is naive. Asking him to fill a role well suited to his abilities sounds perfectly reasonable. While I hope that Jerome Harrison or Mike Bell can fill Leshoure's role, I wouldn't just call him a backup and leave it at that. He was slated to play an important role, short yardage back. While it doesn't sound like much, look at what he would have done for the team: punch the ball in on the goal line, chew up clock to preserve leads at the end of the game, and take some pressure off of Best. It's not asking a ton from a rookie, like we did with Best last year. You're not asking him to start and bring a somewhat complete set of skills to the table. You're asking him to do one simple thing: run between the tackles. It's a relatively simple thing to ask, but it does a lot for the offense.

Ty August 9, 2011 at 10:19 PM  

Wow. Okay. Man.

One of the Anonymouses:

"But remember, last spring many labeled the Nick Fairly, Mikel, and Titus picks as luxury picks, because the greater concern was the linebackers and defensive backs, which were considered the biggest holes on the whole team. Well, last I knew these 2 holes have been addressed, barring additional injuries, which means that the Lions have made significant improvements over last year regardless of Nick's, Mikel's, and Titus' status/contribution this season."

Yeah there you go. I still think the Lions are going to be a Top 5 offense; they spent most of the year in the top ten despite the lack of Stafford. Top 5 is really stretching it for the defense, but I'm willing to be surprised . . .

I think 10-6 is kind of the magic number here, though the potential is there for more if Stafford is as magic as I think he could be.

Peace
Ty

Ty August 9, 2011 at 10:34 PM  

Matt--

Holy damn man.

"There's a whole spectrum of opinions here. I think to some extent we're splitting hairs. The overall questions seem to be 'What we were expecting from the Lions/individual players in 2011?' and 'How do current injuries impact these expectations?'"

Exactly, and I think this gets to the heart of the issue people have with this post: am I putting on rose-colored glasses right now, or were we all wearing rose-colored when assessing Leshoure's impact on this season? What's spinning it more, that Leshoure was going to step in and be a badass, or that he was just a rookie backup tailback?

"*Quenstion* - telemakhos and Anonymous got kind of statistical about this injury. I, off the top of my head, can't think of a NFL RB that had this injury. I can think of knees, toes, ankles, feet, hips, heads, shoulders, ribs, backs. . .but not an achilles. Anyone know ANYTHING about this injury and RBs?"

. . . of course, here you got to my very next post. There are vanishingly rare cases, but Curtis Martin overcame serious Achilles injuries twice--once in college, once with the Jets. I don't believe either was a complete rupture, but there is precedent.

"Personally, I never expected Young to be "lights out" in 2011 anyway. I think his injury makes that only slightly less likely. It's not something to get all worked up about."

Again, agreed. I think he'll be a contributor but not frequently a game-changer, at least for this year.

"Fairley's role, with shortened off-season in mind, would basically be "go in there and kill the QB." So, with the injury/surgery/rehab in mind, Fairley can still certainly play this role effectively in 2011."

A third time, agreed, and get ready for a fourth:

"There really weren't (m)any players available in the draft or free agency that would have legitimately challenged a healthy Backus, Sims, Raiola, Peterman, or Cherilus for a 2011 starting spot. A Carimi or Solder only contributes in 2011 if you ASSUME Backus or Cherilus gets hurt."

Yeah, and nobody who could challenge or replace Backus in free agency was going to come here. Many were calling for Jared Gaither throughout free agency, but why would he come here for a game or two just to sit on the bench after that (granted, he's still a free agent, so maybe . . .)? Moreover, I was excited for the first-team reps that Jason Fox (oops) and Johnny Culbreath would get; the Lions need to find out if either of them have the potential to replace Backus for real someday.

All told, I'm still quite pleased with this draft class, and I still think the Lions are in great shape for 2011 and beyond.

Peace
Ty

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