A year ago at this time I was perplexed why Lions fans were so adamant that the team draft a pass rusher with their top pick in the draft.
I’m not saying the Lions should completely ignore defensive end/pass rusher in April. But when the Lions have so many desperate needs on the roster, don’t waste the 5th overall pick on a unit that already offers two Pro Bowl/All Pro type of players. It requires little hardcore football knowledge, just common sense, to comprehend that if Fairley and Suh are replicating what they did in the final half of ’12, then it should be a great deal easier for whomever is on either side of them to be a disruptive pass rushing presence.
So as the unofficially, unappointed GM of the Lions what would I do at five? Before we go through the nonsense of guys getting hyped up, or hyped down, at this very moment, without the certainty of being able to trade down, unless he has some inescapable and overt weaknesses as judged by the combine and scouts, just take Dee Milliner (he SHOULD be there at 5, I think) and call it a first round.
The full post is here.
As much as he struggled most of the year in New York, late in the year Dee Milliner began to figure out how to be a defensive back in the NFL, so I don't think I feel like a fool for my preference a year ago.
Ziggy Ansah had a very capable year for the Lions, playing 14 games and registering 8 sacks. And his efforts were welcome and needed after the versatile veteran Jason Jones' season ended even before September was complete.
Depth is vital to success in the NFL. Without depth none of the league's final four teams would be where they are now. Especially the Patriots.
Having Ansah to compliment Suh and Fairley was helpful, but with as dominant as the Lions interior was again this year, more snaps for Ansah's fellow rookie Devin Taylor, and mini-veteran Willie Young, might have produced similar results as the BYU rookie.
I need to take the contrary approach yet again this year when it comes to what I feel is the fan consensus for the Lions draft selection at tenth in the first round. Though perhaps the release of more studious mocks will change fan urges.
You're familiar with the three year exploits of Marquise Lee of USC, you know the size and power of Texas A & M's Mike Evans and you're veritably smitten with Clemson's Sammy Watkins, who'd be MY top ranked wide receiver because of what appears to be exceptional playmaking ability. I know, I know. I said that about Tavon Austin too. The Rams misused him though, and Watkins is more of a traditional wide receiver anyway.
The Lions first pick should not be either of those three players.
Presumably, the Lions specifically targeted a head coach with an offensive background so that they could finally extract the best play possible out of THEIR franchise quarterback. If that doesn't happen, and Stafford's game continues to be defined with words like potential and inconsistency, Tony Dungy's 2014 playoff proclamation will be sorely wrong.
Let's say Caldwell is success and the maximization of Stafford's gifts are ready to explode in the '14 season. If that's the case and absolutely the expectation and certainly the demand (from fans), his elevated play and consistency should help all of those around him flourish. In other words, time to start making chicken salad. He worked into the kitchen for the first half of the season, then spent the post-bye weeks with his hand stuck in the garbage disposal.
Don't get spellbound by Chicago's towering and talented receiving duo of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Let's not act like selfish kindergarteners and because they have one, we want one. You can want. Just don't take...with the first draft selection. After all, Jeffery was the 45th overall pick. His stock dropped because of weight questions.
Just as I felt and hoped for last year, the Lions first draft pick should be a secondary player. Forget about it being a poor unit, when's the last time they had an impact player (who could stay on the field), and someone who teams had to gameplan against and around? Uhh, Dre Bly? EVER in the past 20 years!?
Unlike last year's feening for the local hero - Denard Robinson - this year that strategy makes perfect sense for the Lions. Even if Darqueze Dennard was not GO GREEN, GO WHITE, pending further scouting, combine probing and team interviews, he's likely the top cornerback available in the draft. Even if he was from the tiniest school in the FBS, Dennard is at worst a 'safe' pick for the Lions. At most, maybe Lions fans can start using the term 'shut down corner' and not be talking about who's covering Calvin that week. Instead, it's their own.
So what if Sammy Watkins is someone else's exhilirating playmaker? Worry about that when they're the opponent. There's more 'names' to choose from in the wide receiver ranks as ther draft wears on.
Just a sampling: Penn State's crafty Allen Robinson. You want your giant...how'd ya like Fla. State's Kelvin Benjamin to be around when the Lions choose? Scan through WF's WR rankings for more names to excite you.
Yes, the Lions need more options for Stafford to choose from. However, don't limit yourself to just those names slightly above. Pass catching 'tight ends' (the quotes are to laugh at the designation) may be available for the Lions to select from as well. Yes, even in addition to Joseph Fauria. Remember, Brandon Pettigrew may or may not be back. 2013's draft pick, Michael Williams, IR'd before the season may become the block-first tight end making Pettigrew expendable.
I'm just saying, don't panic if the Lions first option behind Calvin isn't a wide receiver. They also have Reggie Bush, who I expect even more out of than last year. But, a fear of Bush having passed his prime is an honest worry.
Even if potential playmaking linebackers like Anthony Barr or Khalil Mack were to tumble to the Lions, or a lineman to get you thinking about transitioning Riley Rieff, it's been too many years where the secondary has been an easy point of an attack for opponents.
Detroit requires a player in the back four who can not only make life challenging for a quarterback trying to complete passes, but also someone adroit at creating turnover chaos. I don't know when and if we'll ever see another Charles Tillman type scoring weapon in a secondary, but the Lions can't rely on DeAndre Levy to pick off 6 more passes...maybe in his entire career. He had 6 of their 15 picks in '13. Only nine teams took the ball away from their opponents less than the Lions last year. Subtract a LINEBACKER's INTs and that's a whole lot uglier.
Yes, Stafford and the offernse can't give the ball away 34 times like they did last year, but they also have to get the ball away from the opposition more frequently if they're going to shave that -12 differential closer to 0, or oh my, even a plus!
The Lions must take a defensive back with their first pick, and it'll be difficult to change my staunchness to that opinion. But, try if you'd like.