Monday, May 01, 2006

Missed opportunities

Let me go on record here with my opinion of this draft. I'm not against the draft picks the Lions made this year. I think Ernie Sims will be a good LB for the Lions if he can stay healthy. I think Daniel Bullocks is an instant upgrade at FS. Brian Calhoun? Well, he's an interesting pick, to say the least. I do like him better than Pinner, and if he's even half good at returning kicks, then it may be time to say goodbye to Eddie Drummond. Jonathan Scott appears to have been a decent value in the 5th round. So the players picked aren't that bad. What I'm disappointed about was what I deem to be missed opportunities.

With each pick the Lions made on Saturday, I think they missed out on even better deals that could have been had. It started right away with not trading the #9 pick. When Leinart was sitting there at 9, everyone on the planet knew Arizona would take him at 10, and that there were a few teams behind Arizona that would have been salivating to get him. I mentioned this in my pre-draft post as well. This was an ideal trade situation for the Lions - at the worst, they could have forced Arizona to trade up one spot to get Leinart. Instead they took Sims, who I'm still a bit leary of, and who I think they could have gotten down around 15 - Denver's pre-draft spot. They missed out on the chance to pick up an additional pick, and the trades that happened a few picks later - Denver moving up to 11 to get Cutler - only proved that there were trade possibilities to be had.

Let me be clear here, In no way am I saying that the pick of Sims was a bust. He could turn out to be Derrick Brooks II for the Lions. I'm just saying that I doubt what some other people are saying that he would have gone #10 to the Cards had the Lions traded the pick. No way. The Cards have too many other more pressing needs, and had Leinart not been there, Winston Justice could have heard his name called 29 spots earlier than it was. And no way should the Lions have taken Leinart there. The last thing they needed is another rookie QB to sit on the bench and develop while ignoring other needs on the squad. The team needed other positions a lot more than they needed a QB, even one with the kind of pedigree Leinart has.

Of course if Lions history continues the way it has, Leinart will make his first NFL start agains the Lions and make them look foolish, while Sims will be injured. Leinart would then go on to lead the Cards to a Super Bowl before the Lions get to one, and become a Hall of Fame QB. Of course if the tables were turned and the Lions picked him, he'd be yet another first round bust, while Sims would become the reincarnation of Lawrence Taylor. It just seems to work that way...

The pick in the second of Bullocks also smacked of another missed opportunity, involving the same player I mentioned earlier - Winston Justice. Once again, this is not bashing Bullocks, just that a player the Lions had talked about taking at 9 was still there at the end of round 1, and into the early second round. In previous drafts, we've seen Millen make a move up to get the player he wants. Somehow, I find it very odd that they didn't make the move to get Justice. And for Philly to make a move to jump in the pick in front of Detroit to take him just smacks of how badly that pick was fumbled. You'll never hear anyone from the Lions say differently, but had Justice lasted one more spot, or the Lions picked 10 spots earlier, they would have taken him in a nano-second.

As we've been hearing, the pick in the third of Calhoun may have been due to some other happenings. I've long been surprised that the Lions have kept a kick return specialist on the roster who can't play WR effectively, and who gets hurt every year. And if Pinner is moping, then maybe it's time to broom him as well. That pick now sounds like it make a lot more sense, although my initial reaction of why they didn't take Max Jean-Giles there is still sticking. I would have loved to have seen the Lions trade up to the end of the third to get him as they still need a guard.

Of the remainder of the picks, I only have any interest in Jon Scott in the 5th round. At various times pre-draft I heard him going as high as late first round, so getting him in the 5th is decent value. If he pans out, it could be a steal of a pick. But I promise not to get too excited about a guy who slid to the 5th round as being a potential replacement for a 3rd year guy who supposedly slid to the 6th round. It could very easily be history repeating itself there. The pick of Matua in the 7th should not be confused as being the 'Guard they need'. If he was that great of a guard, they would have taken him before the developmental CB - McCann - they took in the 6th. Cannon in the 7th only hopes to make the squad for special teams play, and maybe get on the practice squad.

In all, I'm not unhappy with the players they picked up. They did fill two needs with Sims and Bullocks. In my humble opinion, they still have a glaring needs at LT, LG and DE. Based on that, I'm not expecting too great of strides this year because of these deficiencies. But we now know who the new guys are. Hopefully the new regime won't let them become accustomed to the old Lions ways.

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