HäMMëR's Top 10 Personnel Moves by Detroit Lions GM Martin Mayhew
If you knew me on mlive.com when the Detroit Lions announced that Martin Mayhew had been promoted to general manager, and that an exhaustive search had not been completed, and yet the "Villen’s" deputy would be elevated, you know how improbable this article really is.
Let’s face it, what Detroit Lions fans really wanted the ownership to announce that senior vice president Martin Mayhew, another front office hire with no general manager experience, the “No. 2” man behind former “Owen XVI Champions” construct Matt Millen, was being promoted to lead the future of the franchise?
It sure as heck wasn’t me.
Not surprising, Sir Winston Churchill has a timely quote for almost any occasion:
“In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.”
This is yet another one of those times during the early formation of this administration where I’m humbly glad to be…
The fact of the matter is that the more Kaizen Magician Martin Mayhew does for this franchise, the more I like what I see.
While it is still to early to tell how effective Martin Mayhew’s personnel moves will ultimately be following the close of the 2010 season and into the 2011 campaign, I have good reason to be excited about the future direction in which the offices of Mayhew, Schwartz, Lewand and co. are leading the Detroit Lions.
The former starting left cornerback for the Washington Redskins, and Super Bowl XXVI champion, Martin Mayhew, is doing an outstanding job leading the pride out of a woeful slumber.
First we’ll check out HäMMëR’s “Honorable Mention” Personnel Acquisitions; players who were on the cusp, but were bested by another, followed by the top 10 list.
HäMMëR’s “Honorable Mention” Personnel Acquisitions
There are going to be notable absences from my top 10 list that some of you will find unconscionable for one reason or another.
I think you’re going to be very surprised with my selections, especially if you know me from mlive.com/lions, because I didn’t care for some of the acquisitions at the time of their occurrence.
I have four players who made “Honorable Mention” among Mayhew’s best personnel moves: QB Shaun Hill, CB Chris Houston, WR Nate Burleson, and RB Jahvid Best.
Perhaps the most notable name not on my top 10 list is Cal rookie running back Jahvid Best.
A Billy Sims-esque rookie performance by Best would provide the Lions with the running attack they spent the 30th overall selection in this year’s draft on him to achieve.
I thought the addition of former 49ers QB Shaun Hill was some of the best news I heard all offseason. It got even better when his contract was extended for another year.
The idea that the 2010 Detroit Lions will have a quality, qualified backup quarterback is a splendid notion. The drop off in production from Stafford to Stanton is far too great for me to contemplate at this juncture.
My hope is that the addition of CB Chris Houston will prove far more fruitful than last year’s attempt to fix the secondary with the signings of “the three stooges.”
If trading a sixth round pick to acquire the services of a quality, starting-caliber cornerback is all it takes, then Martin Mayhew will have hit pay dirt with this personnel move.
I liked the personal touch that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan used by flying out to Seattle and making a “house call” on his former receiver from their time together in Minnesota, WR Nate Burleson.
The Detroit Lions front office has been telling us for years now that they have the wide receiver compliment to deflect multiple-coverage from WR Calvin Johnson. Every year they bring in another guy who is supposed to be “that guy.”
The jitterbug-like Burleson could put fans’ minds to rest if he is able to approach or exceed 70 receptions on the 2010 season.
10. MLB DeAndre Levy
Following the 2008 Detroit Lions season, I was ready to see a change in the middle of the field defensively.
Paris Lenon just wasn’t gettin’ it done for me, you know?
When the Detroit Lions were on the clock during the 2009 NFL Draft, they passed on linebackers who I felt were immediately ready to step in and man the position: Aaron Curry, Clay Matthews III, James Laurinaitis, and Rey Maualuga.
How dare they draft a projected sixth-round outside linebacker in the middle of the third round, when they were supposed to take one of the three best-available offensive guards (Kraig Urbik, Louis Vasquez, or Antoine Caldwell?)
The Lions can’t keep anybody at left guard; why not draft a good one atop the third round?
DeAndre Levy. That’s why.
While studying film on Ohio State RB Chris “Beanie” Wells, it was another in red, who would don the Honolulu Blue.
The same man who wrote the scouting report for the team that drafted Ray Lewis drafted Levy to become the Detroit Lions “Middle Line Badger” of the future, and that future is NOW!
In his second year in Cunningham’s system, Levy won’t have to come off the football field as the team’s MLB, which is designed to keep offenses guessing.
9. OLB Zack Follett
If you’re a draftnik like me, when it was announced from the podium that the Detroit Lions had selected California OLB Zack Follett in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft with the 235th overall pick, you were stoked.
Value, value, value, and more value.
Based on my pre-draft research, I figured Zack Follett to be a mid-fourth-to-late-fifth-round prospect, so of course, when he was still on the board late in the seventh round, I was very excited the Lions decided to pick him up.
Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham got in Follett’s ear in late-August/early-September 2009, producing even more effort and determination from the snubbed draftee from the Bay area, who vowed to make the other 31 teams who passed on him pay.
The Pain Train is born.
Special teams demon turned would-be-starting WLB Zack Follett is a man on a mission for the Detroit Lions in 2010.
If Follett emerges to start in the departure of former starter Ernie Sims, the Lions will have struck “California gold” with a surprise seventh-round starter.
From best accounts the starting outside linebacker job is Follett’s to lose.
I’m betting on Zack to win.
8. DT Sammie Lee Hill
The selection of Sammie Lee Hill was far and away my favorite pick of the 2009 NFL Draft.
As a former collegiate starting middle linebacker, I know the importance of a great defensive line.
As a fan of the Detroit Lions, I know how lousy the team has been in defending the middle of the field.
After the 2008 campaign, it was clearly obvious how badly the Lions needed to upgrade their defensive line.
No, the Lions didn’t spend their pick atop the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft on Boston College DT Ron Brace. They took WMU FS Louis Delmas instead.
The Lions passed on another defensive lineman, Jarron Gilbert, atop the third round of the 2009 in favor of a trade down with the NY Jets that led to the selection of Stillman DE Sammie Lee Hill.
I said in the months leading up to the 2009 NFL Draft that the Detroit Lions must emerge from the draft having acquired the services of either B.J. Raji, Ron Brace, or Sammie Lee Hill.
I’ll take Sammie Lee.
My hope for him in 2010 is that he comes completely unwound, Tasmanian-devil style, each and every opportunity he gets. I’m talking Berserker wild!
This is a season where less could actually equate to more for Hill. We may find in serendipitous fashion that fewer snaps by not starting will yield more production with a rested Sammie Lee who can go all out on every down.
I’m very excited to see what the club has in the defensive tackle rotation of Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams, and Sammie Lee Hill.
7. LG Rob Sims
When Pete Carroll was hired away (how convenient) from the University of Southern California to become head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, Rob Sims became an expendable asset in the wake of a pending offensive line scheme change he did not project to fit.
Sounds good to me.
It seems that the Lions have lacked the tie that binds at left guard since the untimely passing of former Detroit Lion, Eric Andolsek.
It is what Detroit gave to Seattle to acquire Sims that drives value here.
The Detroit Lions traded their fifth round draft pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, plus DE Robert Henderson, to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for LG Rob Sims and Seattle’s 2010 seventh round draft pick.
I’ll take that trade any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
I mean, who were they going to draft anyway, Kenny Moore? How about Johnny Baldwin? Jonathan Scott? Perhaps Dan Orlovsky? Would Alex Lewis make a better selection in the fifth round?
Yes, Lions fans, you’re picking up my satire font loud and clear.
The addition of Rob Sims at left guard will allow LT Jeff Backus and C Dominic Raiola the ability to focus on his own assignment, which should yield fewer sacks, pressures, and quarterback hits, while creating more holes for the running game.
I’ll be looking forward to watching the former Buckeye on Sundays, regardless my disdain for his college team’s performance on Saturdays. Go Blue!
6. TE Tony Scheffler
Weapons, weapons, and more weapons.
Does it make sense to trade a guy who doesn’t fit what you’re doing going forward for a guy who does fit what you’re trying to do going forward?
Makes sense to me.
In building the Detroit Lions offense of the future, Martin Mayhew decided to add former Western Michigan and Denver Bronco TE Tony Scheffler to the pride in Allen Park.
A three-way trade sent WLB Ernie Sims to Philadelphia and brought Scheffler back to southeastern Michigan.
The closer to 1,000 yards receiving Scheffler can generate, or more, will go a long way in helping the 2010 Detroit Lions reach their goal of making the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
Scheffler’s unique combination of size, speed, and athleticism is a true force to be reckoned with when he is healthy.
A healthy, productive Tony will make for happy, positive Detroit Lions fans!
5. DE Kyle Vanden Bosch
The story of Jim Schwartz showing up on Kyle Vanden Bosch’s doorstep just after midnight on the opening of the 2010 NFL free agency period has now been added to Lions lore.
I had the highest of inner hopes that the Detroit Lions would actually do something “over the top” and go out and sign former Tennessee Titan pro bowl DE Kyle Vanden Bosch.
What a wonderful surprise.
Since the arrival of KVB, all eyes have been on him, noticing a work ethic and familiarity in the Schwartz system that is conducive to leading the Detroit Lions locker room during the second year of the Schwartz regime.
Kyle’s defensive teammates have lauded his work ethic and find his mentorship priceless.
I expect the addition of Kyle Vanden Bosch to have an immediate and long-lasting effect on the performance of third-year DE Cliff Avril.
Vanden Bosch knows the way in the Schwartz defensive system, and he will lead the retooled Lions defensive line to increased production next to line mates Corey Williams, Ndamukong Suh, and Cliff Avril.
4. DT Corey Williams
They might have the “Williams Wall” in Minnesota, but Lions fans are going to have the “Williams-Hill” in Detroit.
And from where I’m standing, it appears the Williams Wall is showing signs of cracks in the foundation.
Strange things happen to good players in the NFL.
Sometimes a player is acquired by a franchise, and after the acquisition, the team makes a change in the coaching staff that brings in another scheme.
The new scheme often does not translate well to the player’s strong suit, or the player may be asked to switch positions.
Such changes can cause once very good players to find diminished roles with diminished productivity in schemes for which their talents were not designed, neither of which were of the player’s choosing.
Former Green Bay Packer turned former Cleveland Brown DT Corey Williams is one of those players.
Regardless Williams’ miscast role as a 3-4 DE with the Browns, Corey has been returned to a 4-3 base defense, where he is expected to return to the seven-sacks-per-season form he displayed while with the Packers.
Whether Corey Williams’ sacks come in bunches, pairs, or one sack every other game, his sack total coupled with his production against the run should demonstrate every reason why Cleveland traded a former second-round pick to acquire Williams’ services.
The other major benefit of the Corey Williams acquisition is that youngsters Sammie Lee Hill and Ndamukong Suh can find a veteran mentor who can teach them how to successfully play the game, learning their position from a man who has tasted success in the NFL.
For the price of a 2010 fifth-round draft pick, it appears Kaizen Magician Mayhew has found a starting defensive tackle.
That’s what I’m talking about, Lions fans. That’s what I’m talking about.
Straight-up value. Awesome stuff.
3. FS Louis Delmas
While I agreed the Detroit Lions were sorely in need of defensive playmakers in the wake of the season of winless perfection, at the time of the selection, I didn’t agree that it should have been Western Michigan FS Louis Delmas.
Sure is good to be wrong, isn’t it?!
Having accounted for three scores during his rookie campaign last year, fans’ expectations have done nothing but increase, and Delmas’ belief that the Lions are headed to the playoffs in 2010 is proof that Lions players have already moved on from the past two moribund seasons.
Louis Delmas has been very vocal lately with his assertion that the Detroit Lions are indeed a playoff contender during the upcoming 2010-11 season.
You want a confident aggressiveness coming from the leader of your defensive backfield, and that confidence is something for which Louis Delmas does not lack.
Coming from someone who didn’t care for the draft pick much, I am so glad the front office went after this up-and-coming playmaker who should thrill fans on Sunday afternoons for years to come.
2. QB Matthew Stafford
I never had former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford listed as one of my selections during the 2009 NFL Draft mock draft season.
I was the mlive Lions Crew leader of “Camp Curry.”
I’m pretty sure we all know how that turned out now, myah.
My father’s eldest son, the same who sat in the stands for the Michigan State 10-10 tie with Notre Dame, went to the Capital One Bowl to watch his Spartans face Matthew Stafford and the Georgia Bulldogs.
While at the St. Johns, Michigan Big Boy, I asked him what his thoughts were regarding the performance of Matthew Stafford, to which he replied, “Nothing special.”
He may not have been overly special that day, but if we can use the Cleveland comeback game as a future illustration of what Lions fans have gained in the moxie of a determined, young gunslinger, he sure looks like he’s going to be special to me.
Thank goodness my readings with Sir Winston have allowed me to eat and digest well those words which now line the innards of my stomach.
Improved accuracy and touch is what I’m looking for from Matthew Stafford in 2010. I don’t want to see short-hopped passes.
I don’t want to see the knuckler take off into the stands. I want to see laser-beam accuracy derived from unbreakable concentration and focus.
Solid play by the offensive line will allow Stafford the requisite time to make good passes when receivers will be open.
Matthew Stafford has “all of the tools” as a quarterback, and Martin Mayhew has beaten down every highway and byway imaginable to immediately increase the influx of talent into the Detroit Lions roster.
Stafford must create synergy with his new receiver corps immediately to produce the results all stakeholders of Detroit Lions football crave.
1. DT Ndamukong Suh
I finally got one of my guys!
If you’re a draft nut like me, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Year after year, decade after decade, the Detroit Lions have used their top NFL Draft resources to make selections on the offensive side of the ball.
For the blue-collar, hard-working fans of the Detroit Lions, not playing good defense doesn’t sit very well.
How does a franchise justify using top pick after top pick on the offensive side of the ball when the defense gives away points in keeping with the worst NFL defenses on record?
That’s bad, folks.
With the second overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Martin Mayhew made me a happy man when the commissioner announced the Lions’ selection of Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh.
I began to feature Ndamukong Suh as my choice for the Detroit Lions’ top pick back on Oct. 12, 2009, and stayed with the pick all the way:
2010 Detroit Lions Mock Draft: Oct. 12, 2009
Rd Ovrl Player Pos College Ht Wt 40yd
1. (5) Ndamukong Suh DT Nebraska 6'4" 302 5.02
2. (38) Perrish Cox CB Oklahoma State 6'0" 198 4.44
3. (69) Jason Fox OT Miami (FL) 6'6" 314 5.16
4. (105) Myron Lewis CB/S Vanderbilt 6'2" 205 4.52
5.a. (141) Crezdon Butler CB Clemson 6'0" 185 4.47
5.b.* (160) LeGarrette Blount RB Oregon 6'1" 240 4.58
6. (178) Greg Middleton DE Indiana 6'3" 284 4.84
7. (214) Brandon Carter OG Texas Tech 6'6" 344 5.42
* pick acquired from Denver in 2009 draft
I think one of the most impressive factors that few really talk about is “Little Kenny” Suh’s lateral speed.
Ndamukong’s 20-yard short shuttle was equivalent to the performance of Georgia Tech top-rated defensive end Derrick Morgan.
The agility of a defensive end in a defensive tackle’s body will help Ndamukong Suh become the centerpiece around which the remainder of the Detroit Lions defense will be cast.
You want tough? I’ll take the Boy Named Suh!