There he is, Dan Orlovsky, lying on the ground with two Green Bay linebackers on top of him, ball on the turf. Do you see any other Lions in the picture? Maybe an offensive lineman within five yards? Yeah, I don't either.
Fast forward to the 2009 season. Lions-Packers in Green Bay. Matthew Stafford drops back to pass, plants his back foot and is immediately engulfed by a sea of green and yellow.
Different year, same story. The only difference is that the man taking the snaps wears the number 7, not 6.
The point I am trying to make is that if the Detroit Lions select Matthew Stafford with the first overall pick, it will be like breaking a mirror; seven years of bad luck for us Lions fans. I'm not knocking Stafford's ability at all, I'm just saying that no quarterback can perform without protection...
I know what you all are thinking, "Tony, we need a quarterback! If we don't take Stafford, whatever will we do?" Fortunately, I have a few ideas, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the show (or article).
Draft Eugene Monroe with the First Pick
Monroe may not be as well-known as some of his offensive tackle counterparts, but this kid is legit. Lately, Virginia has been producing solid tackles, such as D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Brandon Albert.
They could also go with Baylor's Jason Smith or 'Bama's Andre Smith, but Monroe is the safest pick of the three. Jason Smith is a stronger pass blocker and Andre is a stronger run blocker, but Monroe is balanced and will be instantly placed at the left tackle spot, moving Jeff Backus to one of the guard positions.
If Gosder Cherilius can develop into a decent right tackle, the offensive line is actually not looking too bad.
With the 20th Pick, Look for Defense
Depending on how picks 1-19 go, this pick could go a number of ways. Ideally, if Maualuga is there, snatch him up like the girl in "Taken." He would fit nicely in the middle between Ernie Sims and an improving Jordan Dizon.
If Maualuga is gone, take Vontae Davis. While a linebacker would be ideal, a big physical cornerback is something the Lions haven't had in quite some time. I like Davis' game. He has good enough speed to run with the likes of Greg Jennings, and is physical enough to help in the run game.
I'm not a huge fan of Laurinaitis, but if these two guys are gone then the pick would most likely be used on him.
With the 33rd Pick, Take Michael Johnson
In terms of athletic ability at the defensive end spot, Johnson is a freak. Johnson was projected as a top 10 pick and has top 10 ability, and if he falls out of the first round it would be hard not to take a chance on him. Also, he has an absurdly long neck, a la Gaines Adams of the Bucs. If neck length is a direct correlation to playing ability, Johnson has to be the pick.
Trade for Derek Anderson
It looks like the Browns are going to give the keys to Brady Quinn. This means that Anderson and his big contract will be on the bench, and teams don't like having big money quarterbacks holding a clipboard.
Seeing that Cleveland isn't in love with Anderson and every team knows that, the asking price will not be quite as high. If the Lions do not have to part with any of their top three picks to get Anderson, it would be foolish not to. The Lions have two third rounders, and they would be willing to part with one and maybe a conditional third or fourth rounder in the 2010 draft. That's more than New England gave up to get Randy Moss, by the way.
If the Lions can bring in Anderson behind a restructured O-line, with a great young receiver and running back, it isn't inconceivable that Anderson could have a resurgence for a minimal price.
This would lead to the release of Daunte Culpepper, unfortunately, unless they can find him a spot on the defensive line.
Lastly, Sign a Wide Receiver to Complement Calvin, and Draft Chase Coffman
Although he is very, very old, I like the idea of bringing Amani Toomer to Detroit. He is a U of M grad, so he would be coming back to where he played his college ball. He is a professional who runs great routes and could be a leader in the locker room, something this team badly needs. He would benefit from the double teams that Calvin is going to see all year.
Coffman, at 6'6'', is a big target at tight end who could be a safety valve for any quarterback. He has amazing hands, but his draft status has fallen due to foot injuries and questionable speed. If the Lions can get him in the third round, it would be a steal.
So, there you have it, a few easy ways to improve the Lions on the field without spending loads of money on a "franchise" quarterback. The Lions are by no means an easy fix, and one good draft will not fix them. They simply need to start building this team the right way. Too many times has this franchise gone for the flashy pick, and they have been burned more often than not. It's about time they started building a winner, and this would be a good start.
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