At first glance, the Lions' portion of the three-way deal that included Philadelphia and Denver just days before the 2010 NFL draft may cause panic in the armchair GM world of Detroit fans.
However, after the dust has somewhat settled, this trade has more significant implications than originally thought.
Ernie Sims was one of Matt Millen’s best picks. But considering his track record of draft-day follies, that doesn’t mean much. I will go on record stating Sims was one of my favorite Lions; with his aggressive style of play and affinity for pythons, boa constrictors, iguanas, tarantulas, poisonous frogs and 10, yes 10, dogs he calls pets.
A closer look reveals a passionate football player who couldn’t stay healthy and despite his impressive speed, a player that became expendable with the emergence of DeAndre Levy.
It’s what Detroit received in return that means one of two things: Brandon Pettigrew’s injury isn’t healing as quickly as hoped, or Scott Linehan plans on using a combination of Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Pettigrew, and the main part in this trade, Tony Scheffler, to spread the field.
At 6'5" and 255 lbs, this hard working Michigan native is
thrilled to be coming home.
With the additions of Kyle Vanden Bosch (DE), Corey Williams (DT), Chris Houston (CB) and Ryan Sims (G), Detroit has definitely gained more than they lost this off season.
However, the real key to their draft depends on how well they do with their second and third-round selections. As it stands, Martin Mayhew has one pick in each of the first four rounds and four seventh-round picks.
Collectively, Mayhew and Co. might consider these as collateral for a possible deal or two.
While the linebacker position wasn’t a glaring need before this, it’s now obvious the Lions will strongly consider one in the second, third, or fourth round. As it stands, Levy will handle the middle and four-time Pro Bowler Julian Peterson will man one of the outside positions.
I’d be surprised if Mayhew and Jim Schwartz feel their opening day starter to replace Sims is on the current roster. Crowd favorite and human cannonball, Zack Follett, and Jordon Dizon play with intensity and reckless abandon but neither has the speed or athleticism to flourish in Schwartz’s defense, yet. But both players can develop into solid backups, at the least.
About one month before the 2010 draft, Mayhew quietly signed former Purdue Boilermakers standout and steady performer for Cincinnati and Carolina (to a lesser extent), Landon Johnson.
Johnson, 29, had back to back seasons of 112 and 109 tackles in ’06 and ’07—good for third and fourth-best overall among AFC outside linebackers, respectively. Pretty impressive considering one of those years only Pro-Bowl stars Keith Bulluck and Cato June finished higher.
So, how does all this influence draft plans as they finalize their board? Defensive and offensive tackle, running back, and now outside linebacker are their biggest needs.
While trading down is still a possibility, here is an updated Detroit Lions 2010 mock draft.
Considering the unusual depth at defensive tackle in this draft, and about 42 million reasons riding on the health of the asset behind him, Okung makes logical sense here. He’s got the size, attitude and all-around technique to give Matthew Stafford room to develop into the franchise quarterback he’s destined to be.
There’s about five or six other players beside Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy that would be instant upgrades in the middle of Detroit’s line when Mayhew picks again next round.
I like Price’s intensity and pursuit on film, and according to coaches he approaches every snap and practice the same way.
Comparisons to a young Warren Sapp might be premature, but he’s a shorter, squattier kind of tackle that uses leverage and quickness to wreak havoc in the backfield. In fact, Price reminds me more of the last upper-tier nose tackle Detroit had with Jerry Ball.
He's not a liability against the run either, unlike some of the other one-dimensional defensive tackles in the draft.
At 5'11" 220 lbs, Tate has quietly flown under the radar much of his career for the Tigers. He turned some heads at the combine, running in the low 4.4 range. On film, he doesn’t look like a burner but the speed is definitely there, as he gained separation on a handful of runs in a historically-fast conference. But Tate is just as likely to run over defenders as he is to run past them.
His blocking isn’t a finished product but it’s definitely better than Smith’s is right now. Tate is very tough and shows workhorse-type potential. His preferred route is between the tackles and reminds me of a one-cut-and-go runner similar to Terrell Davis or Thomas Jones.
He doesn’t need to come off the field on third downs either as he’s more than competent as a receiver out of the backfield.
Not many players can ever lay claim to being recognized by a major publication, such as when Sporting News decreed him as “the most dominant defensive player of the game,” but the Bulldogs captain is available at this point because he’s one of a record 53 early-entry prospects in the 2010 class. Also, some question his size but he’s bulked up during the off season and at 230 lbs, Curran’s already bigger than Sims.
Additionally, he already ranks higher than Sims in several key aspects, primarily; quicker read and react instincts, better pass coverage, and more dependable as a tackler.
Curran could come in and at least challenge Johnson for the vacant role from Day one, or at least take over early in the season.
Each of the four projected picks in the seventh round have undeniable talent but for one reason or another (scheme, injuries, etc.) they will likely fall to the end of the third day of the 2010 draft.
Basped, an early-entry prospect, would have benefited from an extra year. But he does present intriguing characteristics such as size (6'5" 260 lb) and speed to pressure the quarterback. An NFL team would want to add about 15 pounds to his frame before considering a full-time role for this First-Team All-WAC honoree, as he’s not a big hitter, but his production (19.5 sacks the last two seasons) might be enough for Detroit to consider him a third-down specialist.
It’s been a tumultuous few years in Ann Arbor as Rich Rodriguez implements his schemes. For some players it has unfortunately restricted their development—and Brown might be the best example.
After playing safety his first three years with the Wolverines, coordinator Greg Robinson used him as a hybrid linebacker. While Brown certainly didn’t embarrass himself in his new role, it’s safe to say the reason he was left off The Combine invitee list was because 215 lb linebackers rarely hear their name called at Radio City Music Hall—but Brown’s versatility should warrant interest at his natural defensive back position.
If Mayhew believes he’s big enough to handle the strong-side safety position, this is a definite possibility. Playing out of position his senior year must have been a frustrating experience, but it allowing him to show off his tackling ability (led the team in tackles) and aggressiveness.
The former five-star recruit’s misfortunes could benefit the Lions. Thomas’s career in Southern California was marred by injuries as well as a case of mono.
In fact, the Trojans defensive back missed almost two full seasons, but he has the talent to go in the middle rounds. Thomas ripped off a 4.41-40 at The Combine and he’s put out film displaying pretty good coverage in zone packages. At 6’0", 190 lbs, he has decent size and a willingness to support the run.
Unless some team has a different copy of his medical report, I think there’s a chance Detroit finds a possible No. 3 cornerback with one of their seventh-round picks.
Recruited by the Hurricanes as one of the best wide receiver prospects in the country, Shields has limited experience in the secondary. But he’s now on teams' radars after running a 4.30-40 at The Combine. For good measure, he followed it up with a 4.33.
He was voted as Miami’s special team MVP—as a gunner, not returner. However, he might also give them an option to help repair a woeful return game as well.