Detroit Lions Final Roster: The Most Overrated And Underrated Players
I’m looking at the Detroit Lions 52 player roster. It’s Labor Day, and I’m wondering who will fill that 53rd spot.
The roster is set, although the Lions will probably not assemble for a team photo anytime soon because of the expected high turnover as the Lions churn the bottom of the roster. Will there be another trade? Who will the Lions look at for their weak defensive back seven?
It’s time for me to stir up the hornet’s nest and offer up for your consideration the most overrated, and underrated players on the current roster.
Have I missed someone who you feel is deserving of either title?
The Seventh Most Overrated Lions Player: CB Aaron Berry
Berry, a rookie, has been hobbled with injuries for most of the off season. He’s officially listed at 5’ 11”, and weighs in at 180 lbs. I’ll tell you, folks, that standing next to a couple of players (Dante Wesley and Jack Williams) who are listed at 5’ 9” there was no difference.
Where did that two inches go, Aaron?
Berry is a smurf who bounces off of running backs and tight ends like a pinball on roids. It’s actually funny to watch.
The Lions coaching staff must see something in Berry worth another look.
In Berry’s defense, he may be the fastest player on the roster.
The Sixth Most Overrated Lions Player: ROT Gosder Cherilus
Cherilus won the starting job at right tackle from 34 year old Jon Jansen (cut). Now that he’s squeaked into the starting role, will Cherilus tank it?
Cherilus is best compared to Flozell Adams. You know, the right tackle who is deaf in his left ear? Cherilus was a false start machine last year, but other than the occasional missed assignment has played some credible ball during the 2010 preseason.
We won’t know about Cherilus with any certainty until he plays in Chicago.
If he has matured into his role it would be a bonus for the Lions. If he tanks this opportunity, we can chalk it up as another first round Matt Millen draft bust.
The Fifth Most Overrated Lions Player: QB Drew Stanton
The Lions could have easily cut Stanton, as it would be unlikely that he’d catch on with another team (with the possible exception of Arizona).
Speaking of Arizona, let me pose a question to you. Who is the better QB? Stanton, or Matt Leinhart? This decision is close. Leinhart was picked up by the Houston Texans, and I think the choice will come down to which of these QB’s handles the clipboard with more authority.
When the Lions picked up QB Shaun Hill, did Stanton dig in his heels and fight for that back up spot? Did he scratch and claw his way up the depth chart?
There was virtually nothing to differentiate between his performance in the 2009 training camp and this year’s camp. He simply rolled over and played dead.
No progress equals overrated in my book.
The Fourth Most Overrated Lions Player: DT Andre Fluellen
Another Matt Millen draft pick, Fluellen was taken in the third round in 2008. He played in 14 games last year, and was pressed into a starting role in three of those games.
The results were disastrous. Weak against the run, and no pressure on opposing QB’s. Fluellen was one of the poster children for the worst Lions defensive front in 50 years.
If there was a an award for Mr. Invisible, Fluellen would win it hands down. He is unlikely to see any playing time in 2010 and should be packaged in a trade where he would have some slim hope of playing. I do not recall even seeing him on special teams.
Fluellen is another player that could have been cut without consequence.
The Third Most Overrated Lions Player: WR Derrick Williams
The signing of return specialist Stephan Logan off the waiver wire from Pittsburgh should give us an indication of the lack of faith that the Lions have in Derrick Williams.
It was Williams who called for a fair catch on the three yard line. Brilliant!
Williams was a Mayhew third round pick in 2009 who has failed to impress. What is it about third round picks for the Lions that underwhelm us with mediocrity? Perhaps they should start trading them away?
I honestly don’t know.
Williams is OK with his hands, but watches too many passes all the way to his chest pads where they bounce off, falling harmlessly to earth.
To Williams’ credit, his pass routes are crisper this year. However, his inability to shake man-on-man coverage is going to be his doom.
Williams is overrated in every aspect of his game.
The Second Most Overrated Lions Player: RB Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith is barely nine months removed from ACL surgery. He’s worked hard to get back to the place he was before.
That place was average, at best.
Smith has always been a reliable receiver, but his rushing stats are abysmal. Was this a function of the Lions notoriously poor offensive line play over the last two seasons?
The Lions seem willing to give the 2008 third round pick (Yep, another third round bust) time to find himself again.
During the preseason, Smith carried the ball behind an improved offensive line, and better talent at the skill positions. He had his chance to shine, but failed.
Face it, Lions fans, Smith is simply overrated.
The Most Overrated Lions Player: Zack Follett
Follett was the media darling and fan favorite on special teams last year. The “pain train” showed a propensity for heavy contact, and would lay out kick and punt returners.
When he could find them.
Follett was given the task of stepping into the weak outside linebacker position. He was expected to step up. His performance has fallen far short of expectations.
Follett is OK against the run. Coverage is the problem. Teams will scheme against Follett, isolating a receiver, or, worse, a running back on him. This is a nightmare scenario for the Lions.
Follett is a year or two away from becoming an average linebacker. Work him there as the second team player he is. Give the starting spot to Ashlee Palmer, who has proven to be a better cover linebacker.
For now, Follett is vastly overrated at the starting WILL linebacker position, and as such will be exposed on a weekly basis.
The Sixth Most Underrated Lions Player: OG Rob Sims
Isn't it amazing how much better LOT Jeff Backus has played since being paired with Sims?
There have been no breakdowns on the blind side on passing downs. Lions running Backs have found a modicum of success running the rock on the left side.
Sims has stepped in, rucked up, and has done a solid job.
He’s never flagged. In fact, you seldom hear his name called.
Sims is truly reborn in the man-power blocking scheme that Detroit employs.
The real test, of course, comes in the regular season. How will Sims be used to scheme against Julius Peppers in Chicago? How about the Vikings Mathews Wall?
You can be certain that with the well founded confidence that the coaching staff has in Sims, he will play a more prominent, and more versatile role in the offense.
Rob Sims is going to give Matthew Stafford the luxury of extra milliseconds that were not there last season. Sims is the best run blocking guard that I have seen in years on the Lions offensive line.
The Fifth Most Underrated Lions Player: C/OG Dylan Gandy
During the second week of training camp, ROG Stephen Peterman was out for a few days with a minor knee injury. The Lions tried several players at his position.
Manny Ramirez, Trevor Canfield (cut), and Roy Schuening (cut) all tried, but failed to keep the defense away from the QB.
Dylan Gandy held the line.
Gandy is another guy that gets no buzz. He simply goes about his job in a quiet, efficient manner.
If Gandy plays some special teams, I am not aware of it.
Dylan Gandy is stealthy, but sure.
The Fourth Most Underrated Lions Player: S Randy Phillips
Phillips came out of nowhere to vie for a shot at the starting strong safety position, opposite Louis Delmas.
He earned it, C.C. Brown, and you know it!
Phillips was recovering from a torn Labrum (shoulder) surgery when the NFL combine was held. He decided to skip the Orange Bowl because he didn’t want to miss a shot in the NFL.
Phillips never received an invitation to the combine.
Phillips was an undrafted rookie free agent who, along with LB Matt Clapp failed his initial physical with the Lions. A couple of tough weeks later, he passed the physical and joined the team after the start of training camp.
Phillips wasted no time in becoming a force in the secondary. With the groin injury to Delmas, Phillips did not waste the opportunity to impress the coaches and fans. Watching him daily, I kept saying to myself “Who is this guy?”
Phillips is the real deal, fans. Book it.
I had a chance to speak at length with Lions defensive coordinator, Gunther Cunningham. The topic was Randy Phillips. Something came over gunner at the mention of Phillips’ name.
“He’s my man! He’s my man! I can’t believe our good fortune.”
“We had no interest in him after he failed his physical. He [Phillips] played for Tim Walton [Lions secondary coach] at Miami. Tim insisted that we give the kid another look. Tim was very persuasive.”
There are those in the media who point out that Phillips has had breakdowns, or has been mistake prone.
Not on my watch! Show me the proof of this!
Phillips may be underrated, but he’s no underachiever.
The Third Most Underrated Lions Player: RB Jerome Felton
Felton was a fifth round pick in 2008. He missed blocks and assignments as a rookie. He rode the pine.
Felton was fortunate to stick with the team in 2009. The missed blocks continued to plague him, but the Lions discovered that he was a reliable short yardage receiver who wasn’t afraid to bang.
Watching him in camp this year, the Lions have expanded his role. For a big guy, Felton has speed. The team has shown that they will use Felton more as a running back. The two tight end sets have all but eliminated the need for a fullback.
The Lions have used Felton in a variety of ways. Traditional FB set (I formation), slot receiver, and tailback. Playing the up back on special teams is another of Felton’s contributions.
A versatile player, with a multitude of skills.
The Second Most Underrated Lions Player: OG Stephen Peterman
Given the evidence accumulated over this year, and last year, it’s clear that Peterman is one of the most underrated pieces on the Lions offense. To wit:
Peterman suffered a season ending knee injury last season. The offensive line never recovered from his loss, and along with the general chaotic situation, defenses were simply teeing off on the offensive line.
Is it any wonder that Lions fans were screaming for the heads of every offensive lineman?
As mentioned earlier, Peterman was briefly sidelined in training camp with a minor knee injury. There were days of chaos until Dylan Gandy stepped in to save the day.
In Peterman’s case, it’s not so much a case for what he brings to the team.
His absence, and the resulting chaos are what makes Peterman so valuable, and underrated.
The Most Underrated Detroit Lions Player: OLB Ashlee Palmer
Palmer will be called upon soon to take over for Zack Follet. Palmer is an upgrade in coverage over Follett. It’s not even close.
The line backing corps is the thinnest group on the team. All that Palmer does is make plays. Follett does not.
Palmer will not be schemed against nearly to the extent that Follett will. I guarantee it.
Palmer may be a band aid on a bullet hole, but I assure you that Follett is a very large bullet hole.
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