Season Review -> Draft Preview: Detroit Lions

Season Review -> Draft Preview: Detroit Lions

The Steelers N'at

Season Review -> Draft Preview: Detroit Lions


’08-’09 Record: 0-16

The Detroit Lions had one of the worst seasons for a franchise in recent memory, and their failures are not excluded to football alone. In this era of supposed parity, this season’s Lions could very well end up as the standard of futility across all sports for the next generation or longer. After a 2007 season that saw the Lions start 6-2, only to fade into oblivion to finish 7-9, some (myself included) thought Detroit could make a legitimate wild-card run in 2008. We were wrong. What began with a somewhat shocking loss to this season’s surprise NFC team (Atlanta) ended with a winless record and virtually no light at the end of the tunnel.

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)

Who They Will Pick

Mark Sanchez, QB, USC (6’3″, 225)

Technically, this is simply a preference pick by the Lions, as they theoretically can’t really go wrong with either QB. However, I still feel Stafford would be the Lions’ best bet due to his starting experience, as well as his superior durability. Stafford started all three of his seasons with the Bulldogs, remaining relatively healthy, while Sanchez has suffered a dislocated kneecap and a broken thumb in his time with the Trojans, only one year of which was spent as a starter. Although Sanchez is considered to have more potential, each signal-caller possesses outstanding arm strength (slight edge Stafford) and accuracy (slight edge Sanchez), while displaying good athleticism and adequate agility to avoid the rush and escape the pocket. Ultimately, I feel the Lions should select the more durable Stafford, considering the injury problems they’ve already endured with Jon Kitna and Drew Stanton. However, I think potential and Sanchez’s recent Rose Bowl performance will win out here.

Sleeper Pick: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama (6’4″, 340)

Ian’s Projection

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)

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