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Detroit Lions: The Beer Thinker's Breakdown of the Lions

Seattle Lion FanAnalyst IIMarch 27, 2010

It's been about 3 weeks since I've written anything.  Not that I haven't wanted to, but there has been a lot of great articles written about the Lions from some new writers as well as some of the wily veterans out there.

I will admit part of it has been some writer's block.  I have started several articles that I've given up on about half-way through. I'd stop and read what I had and classify it as moronic.  But who isn't their own harshest critic, right?

Enough of that.  I doubt that I was missed all that much anyway.

The Lions have been fairly active in March.  Big signings in getting DE Kyle Vanden Bosch for four years, followed closely by WR Nate Burleson. 

Let's break down what the Lions have done so far:

Defense

In addition to getting Vanden Bosch, the Lions continued to beef up the defensive line by trading their 2010 5th round pick for defensive tackle Corey Williams.  It has been speculated this trade will negate the picking of Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy and will either draft offensive tackle Russell Okung or safety Eric Berry.  If the Lions go after DT Anthony Hargrove, it's almost a sure bet the Lions first pick will be an offensive tackle.

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The Lions have also been active in upgrading the secondary, obtaining for corners Chris Houston via trade and Jonathon Wade via free agency. 

Both will give help to safety Louis Delmas.  Delmas made some big plays last year but the corners were still getting burned on deep passes.  Granted, pairing Delmas with Eric Berry is thought provoking, but with the moves the Lions have made so far the urgency to draft defense might have decreased.

The Lions lost an ineffective Larry Foote who returned to the Steelers, a more comfortable defensive scheme for him.  Foote fulfilled a desire to play for his hometown team but couldn't take the losing.  How could anyone adjust coming from the Steelers, where in his first seven seasons with them they missed the playoffs once and won two Super Bowls in 2005 and 2008?  However, he did have his second best season in tackles, with 70 of them, six short of his best in 2005.

The Lions also cut cornerback Phillip Buchanon and might lose cornerback Anthony Henry to free agency.

Defense is still a tad suspect thought I think with the front four of Vanden Bosch, Williams, Sammie Lee Hill and either Jason Hunter or Andre Fluellen it will put better pressure on the quarterback and take the pressure off the secondary. 

Too many opposing quarterbacks last year had way too much time to pass the ball.  I don't care how good any secondary is, give a quarterback that kind of time, he'll pick you apart.

Offense

We can say goodbye to Dante Culpepper.  He's declared himself a free agent but I'm not sure there will be any teams that will pick him up. 

Detroit traded their 2011 seventh round pick to get quarterback Shaun Hill from San Fransico.  I think he'll be a more effective back-up to Matthew Stafford than Culpepper.  Hill can accept the back-up role whereas Culpepper could never embrace them.  With Hill and Drew Stanton, the Lions are in pretty good shape here.  I'd like to see the Lions use Stanton perhaps in some Wildcat plays since he runs fairly well.

Running back is a question.  Kevin Smith is a work horse and will get you those tough yards, but he's hardly a threat to bust a big run. 

I was hoping the Lions would go after Chester Taylor or Willie Parker to give the Lions a nice one-two punch.  It appears they might try and do it with later draft picks, perhaps in the third or fourth round.  Maybe Dexter McCluster out of Ole Miss or Jonathon Dwyer our of Georgia Tech would be good picks.

Is this the year Calvin Johnson finally gets help?  Detroit Lions signed veteran wide receiver Nate Burleson from the Seahawks

I've watched Burelson over the years and while he may have never exceeded 70 catches, he does have a nice career 13.5 yard average per catch.  He is also a good punt returner and a very good down field blocker.  With him and Brandon Pettigrew, Calvin Johnson should have the opportunity for a break-out year.  The Lions are attempting to give him every opportunity to get to the Pro Bowl.

The offensive line is still the big question mark.  If the Lions do take Okung with the first pick, what to do with Jeff Backus? 

I know that statistically, Backus had a good year last year.  Still, in his career, he's given up an average of 8 sacks per year, the worst over a 10 year period.  Backus may be a good guy and he's never missed a game in his career.  But he's been, at best, a mediocre left tackle. 

If the Lions draft Okung, move Backus inside to left guard where I think he will be much more effective.  An offensive line with Okung, Backus, Riola, Jansen and Cherilus with Loper, Rameriz and Gandy as back-ups should prove to be a much more effective line.

Beer Thinker's Thought

I have come out in favor of making Ndamukong Suh the pick the Lions should make.  Even with acquistions of Vanden Bosch and Williams, along with the possibility of Hargrove, if the Lions take him, it would still be a great pick for them. 

If not Suh, then they have to take Okung.  They have a franchise QB in Matthew Stafford that needs as much protection as he can get and Okung will be a huge upgrade. 

The one player they should not take is safety Eric Berry.  He's a great player but his impact would not be as great as Suh or Okung.  The defensive line should get more pressure on the QB to hurry the throws and give the secondary some opportunities to make some plays.  Safety is not the most glaring need the Lions have. 

The draft is less than a month away now.  I'm hoping that the Lions continue to make smart moves.  Mayhew and Schwartz have an opportunity to make the Lions a threat in the NFC North this year. 

Go Lions!

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