Thursday, December 28, 2006

Thinking ahead... '06

Well, I sit down here in sunny Florida on vacation, and the Lions should be the furthest thing from my mind, right? Well, except for the fact that in watching college bowl games I start thinking about who the next Lions great hope will be. Then I start thinking about how pitiful the team has been and then about how Millen will likely make th next draft choice again, and...

Sheesh, it's time to have another margarita.

First off, when I'm thinking about the draft and free agency, a few things stand out in my mind. First off, what the heck do they do about KJ? That injury could be an absolute franchise killer - except that this franchise is already dead. It definitely changes my opinion about what needs to be done in the offseason. Well, without further adieu, here is my shameless plan for the Lions Off-Season. As for the names to fill in most of these positions, I haven't thought about that one yet. Just the general plan.

In free agency, the Lions have one glaring need - DE. If there is one position that the Lions need desperately bad, it's an every-down DE. They have needed one for about 7 years - about the last time Robert Porcher was playing at the top of his game. The impact of finding and signing a good every-down DE can't be underestimated. The Lions pass-rush - or lack of one - is more the reason our DB's get beat than anything else. If an opposing QB has 5+ seconds to throw, they will find someone open. It's that simple. And all too often, the opposing QB has that and more to throw. Conversely, when they put one of their supposed pass-rushers in, they are hideously weak against the run to the outside. When they pick right, and have the correct personnel in, they are decent defensively. But too often, they have DeVries in trying to pass rush, or Kalimba in when the other team runs. The desperately need an every down DE on at least one of the two sides.

That one upgrade will be huge for the entire defense. It will result in the CB's looking better as they won't have to cover for as long a time. The LB's will look better as they won't get smashed by TE's or pulling guards on end arounds and be free to make tackles. By far, IMHO, this is the one position the Lions most desperately need to upgrade. I'd try to find a great one as a free agent, and then draft another one.

The other position that needs a lot of help is LT. Yes, this means you, Jeff on-your-Backus. I was against franchising him to begin with, I was against signing him to the monster contract, and I have been openly critical of his play for a long time. He is paid as if he is a top-5 LT, when in fact, he plays like a bottom-5 LT. This is completely unacceptable. He's just not a very good LT, and he kills the Lions with his play. He is too slow to handle speed rushers, he's not strong enough to handle power rushers, and he's not a very good run blocker. That's the trifecta of things you don't want to have in a LT, and he has all three weaknesses. I have no idea how the Lions have managed to not see this on thier tape. IMHO, it's because Joey Harrington was throwing the ball away so quickly that Backus didn't give up more sacks the last several years. Maybe that blinded them as to how bad this guy really is. But he's awful.

Unfortunately, with KJ going down and no timetable for his return, we have no idea yet if he'll even play next year. That creates a HUGE hole at RB. None of the other guys on the roster should be a full-time NFL starting RB. If we get closer to the draft, and the prognosis for KJ doesnt' look great, I'll make this suggestion - draft Adrian Peterson. He is about as much of a sure thing as there is in this draft. I personally think the guy is the best RB to come out in the last 3 draft classes. Many people compare him to Eric Dickerson, but after seeing some video eye-candy, I'd compare him to Marcus Allen. Great speed, great instincts, gains most of his yards after contact but never seems to get hit really hard, very shifty, etc. He's the complete package. Based on his play before his injury this year, he looks like he can catch the ball as well. And of course the Lions have some pretty good history with RB's from the state of Oklahoma. But he can only be the Lions pick if KJ won't be back next year.

If KJ looks like he'll be back, them my recipe for the draft is the same as it's been for several years. First, try to trade back a few spots and pick up a few additional picks. If you can, great. It allows you to trade back up into late round 1 and get another player. IMHO, the pick has to be the best OT / DE available. I'd use every pick in the first 4 rounds next year on OL and DL. The Lions desperately need at least 2 OL players, and at least 1 DE. QB should not be an option, unless someone like Drew Stanton is sitting there in the third round. Under no circumstances should the Lions take a QB #1. No QB will be successful here until the O-Line is fixed. When it finally does get fixed, I believe that it won't take a #1 or even a #2 QB to be successful here. Heck, Martz has turned undrafted free agents (Warner) and 6th round draft picks (Bulger) into an NFL MVP and a Pro-Bowler.

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