Well back to square one again for the Lions. After a "promising" 6-2 start in 2007, the team went on to lose its final seven of eight games to finish 7-9. They select a RT from Boston College in Gosder Cherilus.
Cherlius has performed like a solid rookie. But they were other glaring weaknesses on the team that prompted the Lions to finish 0-16. Yes, that's right, the Lions did not win a single game. Even DUKE's football program won a game (four, to be exact) and all the Lions can muster is "good effort"?
They have the first overall pick in the 2009 Draft. A lot of mock drafts have them selecting one of the following: QB Sam Bradford from OU, QB Matt Stafford from Georgia, OT Andre Smith from Alabama, and finally OT Michael Oher from Arkansas.
The popular pick is either Bradford or Smith, since they won the nation's top awards at their respective positions. Bradford won the Heisman, while Smith won the nation's best OL award. I believe BOTH will be busts in three to five years.
When's the last time you heard a BIG 12 QB perform at an all-pro level? Bradford is being made to look something that's molded from gold with the season he has been having.
In reality, the Big 12 isn't as fundamentally sound as the SEC or even the Big 10 in terms of defense. SEC teams really try to pressure the QB and try to harass them instead of getting comfortable. Big 10 teams rely on good tackling and playing man to man.
If you are going by history, then it's simple: You take QB Matt Stafford. He is from SEC and runs a similar pro-style offense at Georgia. The most famous QB's from SEC colleges : Peyton Manning, Fran Tarkenton, Jay Cutler, Eli Manning, Joe Namath, and plenty more.
The names of famous QB's from Big 12? Uhhhh....does Troy Aikman count? I mean he DID play their for a brief part of his collegiate career before transferring to UCLA where he finished third in the 1988 Heisman Race. Now, I'm not a rocket scientist here, but it is pretty logical on who you should take if your selecting QB.
The Lions went 0-16 not because of their inability at the Quarterback position (although that is a MAJOR part of it also). No, it's because their lack of success in the ground game. Kevin Smith, a second round pick in 2008 played 16 games and had 976 yards and eight touchdowns and an above average 4.1 Yards Per Carry.
I can count at least five games in where the Lions were ahead and lost because they couldn't run the ball to milk the clock. The simplest of solutions here : You take the best OL available (Michael Oher) and you plug him in the LT spot for the next 10-15 years and switch the current LT Jeff Backus to LG.
Backus is a good run blocker and would be ok with changing positions. He has the prototypical guard frame at 6'5", 305lbs, and is only 31 years old. If you select Oher, you solidify not one but two spots on the OL.
I believe since the Lions finally got something right (besides selecting Calvin Johnson of course) when they traded disgruntled WR Roy Williams to Dallas for a great haul of picks 2009 first, third, and seventh-round picks.
Now, if you select Oher (which I am projecting them to do), you need to focus on getting a REAL defense. DT Cory Redding is vastly overpaid and they still do not have a solid pass rusher since Robert Porsche retired earlier this decade. I have the Lions taking DE George Selvie here from South Florida.
With Selvie here they will have a good speed edge rusher to help out the poor secondary throughout the 2009 season.
Now here comes the tricky part. OT, and DL were selected in the first round but the Lions will not sniff .500 for another decade if they do not upgrade what they have in the secondary and quarterback. Leigh Bodden was a major disappointment after trading star DT Shaun Rogers for him.
The Lions need a ball hawk Cornerback to help out ROLB Ernie Sims and the DL. They should get CB Alphonso Smith from Wake Forest. He is very raw and athletic and he led the NCAA Division 1-A Schools in INT's with 6 this year. With Bodden and Smith on the outside, opponents will have to respect their pass defense.
Listed below are my 2009 Detroit Lions Draft Projections.
1) Michael Oher OT from Arkansas
1) George Selvie DE from South Florida
2) Alphonso Smith CB from Wake Forest
3) Kam Chancellor S from Va Tech
3) Curtis Painter QB from Purdue
4) Ray Feigina OG from BYU
5) George Hypolite DT from Colorado
6) Eric Wood C from Louisville
7) Derek Nicholson ILB from Florida State
7) Jason Williams OLB from Western Illinois
I have no major free agents signing in Mo' Town because 0-16 is incredibly hard to sell.
Here are your 2009 Detroit Lions
QB Drew Stanton
RB Kevin Smith
FB Jerome Felton
WR Calvin Johnson
WR Mike Furrey
TE Michael Gaines
LT Michael Oher
LG Jeff Backus
C Dominic Roiola
RG Ray Feigini
RT Gosder Cherilus
LE George Selvie
DT Cory Redding
DT George Hypolite
LOLB Jason Williams
MLB Paris Lenon
ROLB Ernie Sims
CB Leigh Bodden
CB Alphonso Smith
FS Daniel Bullocks
SS Kam Chancellor
PK Jason Hanson
P Nick Harris
Now, when you have seven rookie's on your team, you will have a lot of growing pains, but with the right coach and scheme, I believe Lions won't be as bad as this year. If Stanton doesn't pan out in '09, then you have Curtis Painter for 2010.
A city such as Detroit with a rich sports history and diehard fans don't deserve a 0-16 team. Let's hope for the NFL and Lions sake that Bill Ford starts getting the belt moving again in Mo' Town.