Detroit Lions: Dan-O at QB and Move On from There
There are many opinions as to how the Lions can begin to turn around after an 0-16 season, this just being one of them from a die hard Lions fan.
Obviously all the suggested moves can't be made, I'm just giving an opinion per position if they choose to make changes. All free agents taken into consideration I did not predict making any trades for the fact the possibilities are endless. I will begin at QB even though it is NOT the most glaring need.
With three young fairly inexperienced quarterbacks on the roster I don't believe there is any need to bring in another through the draft. Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez are both underclassmen which tend struggle when entering the league, not to mention they are lacking much of the talent previous classes have had therefore not worthy of a No. 1 selection.
Moving on to the quarterbacks currently on the roster, I believe Daunte Culpepper is not the answer to the short term or especially long term questions. His mobility is not what it used to be and his decisions are questionable at times.
I don't see Jon Kitna being back.
There's no doubt Drew Stanton has talent, but he has been injured and we haven't been able to see if his game can translate into the pros. I think he should get a fair chance to show what he's got.
That leaves Dan Orlovsky.
Dan-O has shown some promise, but really hasn't had a chance to consistently play and fight through his struggles because he kept being replaced. He has good pocket presence, a nice arm and did a great job of getting the ball Calvin Johnson. His accuracy must improve from his 56 percent completion. He had some bad moments, but I think he can be a solid player.
Running behind a sorry offensive line Kevin Smith was impressive in his rookie season rushing for just under 1,000 yds and scoring eight touchdowns. He will need to improve on 2008 with a solid 2009 before he can be considered a definite number No. 1 but all signs show that he can.
The Lions should upgrade to a better number two than Rudi Johnson, but that being low on the laundry list of needs the best they could do is bring in a later round running back through the draft.
Calvin Johnson is a unit.
End of story.
Now, looking at the rest of the recievers on the roster they lack a true compliment to Johnson. For the record, I didn't agree with the releasing of Mike Furrey but I won't get into that. What they have is a solid slot receiver in Shaun McDonald, but it's not even clear that he will stay and the cupboard is pretty bare after that.
We would all love to see them go after Houshmanzadeh or Boldin, but realistically neither of them will be on the Lions roster in 09. It's more likely they go after a more inexpensive free agent that can still make an impact like Devery Henderson or Antonio Bryant just for someone to take some attention away from Johnson.
Even a decent player to fill a opening such as Dane Looker would help. John Standeford and Keary Colbert are good enough to retain roster spots. If they chose to upgrade through the draft one probably wouldn't be taken until later where Washington State's Brandon Gibson or Ohio State's Brian Robiske could be steals.
Tight end is a huge need just for the fact the Lions have not had even an average tight end since the David Sloan days. The recent release of Dan Campbell (thank God) leaves Michael Gaines as the only real option. A tight end who can stretch the field and be a safety valve for a growing quarterback would be nice, but you can't put that ahead of an ability to block with the offensive line as shaky as it currently is.
Reliable free agents here being at a minimum would put Will Heller at the top followed by Justin Peelle. Either of them could be formidable option or teamed with Gaines giving them the most depth they have had here in years.
Again, an early pick wouldn't be used on a tight end eliminating Brandon Pettigrew or Chase Coffman, but Dan Gronkowski of Maryland could fit good with what I think the Lions need.
The offensive line has been one of the biggest problems for the lions through the years. Jeff Backus has been a good starter for a number a while but he is getting some miles on him and can occasionally give up key sacks especially to a quick defensive end, but Backus is good enough to be here while the lions fill other needs.
Gosder Cherilus had a decent rookie year and looks as if he can be the kind of player Backus is possibly better. The Lions are very likely to use the first pick on a tackle and if that is done it should be Michael Oher from Ole Miss. The biggest need is at OG where Damion Cook and Stephen Peterman cannot get the job done.
Guard play last year made it hard for Smith to find running room and the signing of veterans such as Jason Fabini or Russ Hochstein would hopefully help with that problem. Center is tough because I still believe in Dominic Raiola, but his play has slipped a bit. If I receive some good feedback on this I will come back in a couple days and write on the defense.
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