’08-’09 Record: 0-16
The lone bright spots on offense were rookie RB Kevin Smith and budding star WR Calvin Johnson. Smith rushed for 976 yards and 8 TD’s but was plagued by inconsistency throughout the year. For now, the offense will be built around Johnson, who quickly became one of the best at his position. He caught 78 balls for over 1,330 yards (a 17.1 yard average) and hauled in 12 scores. A QB to get him the ball more consistently, as well as an O-line to keep that signal caller healthy, will go a long way toward improving Detroit’s fortunes – at least on offense.
Defense is another story, however. The Lions finished dead last in the NFL in total yards (404), rushing yards (172), and points (32.3) allowed per game. Fortunately for them, new acquisition Leigh Bodden (ultimately the team’s nickel back) helped the defense allow only the 27th most passing yards per game. The porous defense has only two certainties heading into 2009 – third year players LB Ernie Sims and S Daniel Bullocks, who finished second and third respectively in tackles. Other than those two youngsters, nobody’s job is safe.
Of course, the lone upside to finishing as the worst team in football is the right to choose first overall in April’s draft. Not only do the Lions own this “privilege,” but they also receive the Dallas Cowboys’ first round pick for trading them WR Roy Williams.
Team Needs: Everything – any player would be an improvement over someone on the current depth chart.
Who They Should Pick: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia (6’3″, 228)
Mark Sanchez, QB, USC (6’3″, 225)
Sleeper Pick: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama (6’4″, 340)
Detroit needs players everywhere and due to their selection of Gosder Cherilus (OT-Boston College) in last season’s draft, coupled with the success that rookie QB’s had this past season, it seems almost a foregone conclusion that they will take a QB with the #1 overall pick. This draft class lacks a defensive player that is head and shoulders above the rest of the crop (i.e. Mario Williams) that would warrant consideration at #1. With Matt Millen gone from the front office, I don’t think there’s much chance of seeing Michael Crabtree’s name at the top of the draft board either. Like John, I like Stafford over Sanchez. Since Detroit has two first round picks, look for them to use one pick for offense and one for defense.
Who They Should Pick: Matthew Stafford (QB-Georgia)
Who They Will Pick: Matthew Stafford (QB-Georgia)
Sleeper Pick: Brian Orakpo (DE-Texas)