Drafting for Talent Can Only Fill So Many Positions
From week one of the 2008 NFL season any Detroit Lions fan knew that there was trouble brewing. With the first pass of Matt Ryans career goes 62 yards right past the struggling Travis Fisher for an easy touchdown.
Later in this game Ernie Sims the leader of the defense is seen struggling to fill holes and use his speed to try to chase players down. After just this one game I knew that this would be a rough season.
The defensive woes continued as I witnessed the most embarrassing display of defense I had ever seen. The cover-two defense is a great defense, and coach's like Tony Dungy's Colts, and the Super Bowl XXXVII champion Buccaneers showed the world what Monte Kiffen could do with the cover two.
The personnel that the Lions had just lacked talent to run it, and in my opinion the defensive coordinator lacked the knowledge to run it, even though Joe Barry learned it from the men that created the Tampa Cover Two.
Fast forward to the end of game 16. I felt sick every time I watched a game this past season and when the whistle blew to put a close to the torture every Lions fan knew there were going to be huge changes.
Sure enough the coaching staff gets fired, and a new one is brought in with Jim Schwartz at the helm. Now that the coaching staff is overhauled its time for that embarrassing roster to be overturned, too.
This year the Lions did not resign many of their players (five players out of the 17 Lions UFA's), instead they looked outside last years team to create depth. Players like Maurice Morris RB SEA, Eric King CB TENN, Daniel Loper OG TENN, Cody Spencer LB NYJ, Will Heller TE SEA, Terrell Smith FB AZ, and Ronald Curry WR OAK.
These are guys that for the most part will be just depth type guys but they are an interesting set of players. Just to name a few, Morris brings a good receiving threat now to the backfield. Eric King played a lot of Nickle and Dime back for Schwartz in Tennessee, so obviously Schwartz believes in him.
Loper, another guy from Tennessee, can play both guards and both tackle positions. Curry brings good size to a receiver corps that besides Megatron had smaller sized receivers in Mike Furrey and Shaun McDonald, now that both of them are gone Curry can help a depleted receiver group and will fight for the third spot.
The additions that were made to look to fill starting jobs were few but strong. Through free agency guys like Phillip Buchanon CB TB, Grady Jackson DT ATL, and Bryant Johnson WR SF. These are all guys that will bring great things to the team. Buchanon has been around but he still has great athletic ability.
Big Grady Jackson brings experience and his size can plug up the running lanes that killed the Lions last season. Bryant Johnson brings the experience of playing with great receivers like Fitzgerald and Boldin.
Through trades the Lions got linebacker Julian Peterson to help run their defense from the Seahawks. Another veteran acquisition was Anthony Henry from the Dallas Cowboys another pickup to improve the leadership of the defense and to pick up another possible starter.
Through the draft the obvious picks of QB Matthew Stafford and TE Brandon Pettigrew to try and fill talent needs on offense. The second-round choice is a guy I had been following and think could be one of the best defensive players from this draft class. Louis Delmas is Bob Sanders 2.0.
Delmas is a little bigger but plays the same way in that he will come up and punch you in the mouth, or drop back in coverage and does a great job at both.
In the third, the Lions took DeAndre Levy who was supposed to fight for the starting middle linebacker position until Detroit was able to ink Detroit native Larry Foote who came over from Pittsburgh. Derrick Williams will add depth to the receiving core and will be competing for returning kicks.
Sammie Lee Hill out of the little college of Stillman will be a raw prospect at defensive tackle for Schwartz to try to mold into an NFL player. Aaron Brown RB, Lyndon Murtha OT, Zack Follett LB, and Dan Gronkowski TE will all add depth.
The Lions wanted to add talent which is what they did through the draft. Every position is a position of need after a team goes 0-16. The defensive backfield was the biggest position of change with an all new top three on the projected depth chart for the corner back position.
Still, this could be a weakness with an underachieving Phillip Buchanon, Anthony Henry who is now 32 and has questions on his speed. Gerald Alexander at safety is coming back from a vertebrae injury. Louis Delmas who will probably hold down the other safety spot is showing promise in the OTA's, but will still be a rookie and will have a lot to learn.
The Lions are along way from having a solid team but they are building their depth and are looking to build the talent aspect through the draft. So far it seems that the new General Manager and Coach have this team going in the right direction, but anything is the right direction after 0-16.
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