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Jim Schwartz's Decision

Brendan MonaghanContributor IMarch 10, 2009

By now we've all heard about the new chess playing head coach named Jim Schwartz.  The media and fans from all over have anointed him as a guru, the next Bill Belichick—savior of the downtrodden 0-16 Lions

I too have drunk the Kool-Aid. This guy has all the makings of being great and, as a Bears fan, I am happy to welcome him to the NFC North, which must become the dominant, hard-nosed, and defensive-minded division it has been in years past. 

Coach Schwartz is walking into a situation where not only are expectations lower than low but he will be armed with a plethora of draft picks from which to begin molding his team. 

While most pundits are drinking the Kool-Aid off of the Stafford bandwagon, I, for one, am not. 

I had visions of what could and could not have happened this offseason for the Lions, and see their draft picks following a very different path than the one most commentators seem to believe.  

What Could Have Been

At the beginning of free agency the Lions had a chance to make a huge splash.  The talk has been that the Lions need a "face of the franchise," so most were (and are) led to the assumption that the Lions will draft their franchise face quarterback with the top pick.

But why is it that quarterbacks are considered the face of the franchise? Yes, many are, but Brian Urlacher is the face of the Bears, LaDainian Tomlinson has been the face of the Chargers, and Larry Fitzgerald is just as much the face of the Cardinals as Kurt Warner

The notion that a quarterback must be the face of a franchise is unfounded and untrue.  The "huge splash" I referenced to earlier would have been the Lions acquiring Ray Lewis.  Ray Lewis is the face of the Ravens and would have immediately become the face of the Lions.  

Why Ray Lewis? The Lions for years have attempted to find the face of their franchise through the draft with absolutely zero success. Had the Lions acquired Lewis they would have been able to fill their needs without needing to consider finding a voice for the team. 

Aaron Curry is roundly considered to be the best player available in the draft.  Jim Schwartz loves linebackers.  The thought of Ernie Sims, Ray Lewis, and Aaron Curry downright scared me as a Bears fan. 

The other reason I saw this as being a possibility for the Lions is due to the fact that the Lions are on at least a two-year rebuilding program and Drew Stanton is a talented yet untested commodity the Lions already have in-house. 

If Schwartz didn't like what he saw in Stanton next season the Lions would be able to grab one of the big three coming out next season.

Detroit's 2009 Draft—First Round

In all of Jim Schwartz's years as a coach, only one team he was on selected a quarterback with the first round pick—Tennessee in selecting Vince Young. Vince Young showed much more potential than either of the two "first round" quarterbacks this year and the Vince Young experiment has yet to work out in Tennessee. 

Coach Schwartz saw a polished veteran lead the offense by making few mistakes and letting the defense keep the opponent's score low. That philosophy will be built in Detroit.

For that reason if the Lions don't trade the pick they will probably go with either Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe with the first pick and look for a defensive tackle with the second pick.

That said, "Schwartzie" is a disciple of Belichick.  It's not out of the question for the Lions' second first round pick to be traded for a team's third round this year and first round next year.  If that falls into the Lions' lap they would be wise to jump at it.