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 Me Vs. Millen Redux 
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Post Me Vs. Millen Redux
I know that some of you followed my blog around draft time. I know that I fell off of posting during our lovely 0-16 season (it's more fun to talk about the draft than the Lions losing all of the time). However, I just did a pretty expansive recap of how my picks fared against Millen, and I think I will be posting more often now. Unfortunately, the recap is not too much to crow about: I think I about played Millen to a tie, but I'm sure everyone will have an opinion. The irony is that the Lions' 0-16 season followed what was either the best or second-best draft in the Millen era.

http://mevsmillen.blogspot.com

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Alright, the draft-off is in the books for year one, and although they say that you can't really judge a draft until five years have passed, we're going to go ahead and do so anyway. Here are the picks in year one broken out by round:

Round 1
Actual Detroit Lions: 1(17) Gosder Cherilus, OT
Me vs. Millen Lions: 1(17) Gosder Cherilus, OT

Oh, how embarassing, I start out this whole blog with the idea that I would be drafting against Matt Millen, and lo and behold, he and I make the same pick. Argh! Well, truth be told, this pick was neither great nor terrible. Gosder Cherilus deserves some credit for resurrecting the Detroit Lions running game into something approaching respectability and he did not embarass himself nearly as often as Back em up Backus in pass protection. However, Gosder had a number of mental lapses that resulted in costly penalties, most notably the illegal procedure call that nullified a long Calvin Johnson touchdown that cost me my fantasy football championship, if not much else. All in all, it looks like Cherilus will be a solid but not spectacular player, which is pretty much the high water mark for a Detroit Lions first round draft pick.

Edge: Tie

Round 2
Actual Detroit Lions: 2(45) Jordon Dizon, LB
Me vs. Millen Lions: 2(45) Dan Connor, LB

Millen and I both put up stinkers with this one, which raises the age-old question: who would you rather have, a guy who is healthy all year but can't get on the field, or a guy who is probably a back-up but you'll never know because he has been on injured reserve? Hey, I was wrong about a lot of things on this blog (many of which I will detail later) but I was spot on about Jordon Dizon being a welterweight no count in the NFL. Jordon Dizon was not able to crack a starting line-up that included such amazing players as Paris Lenon and Ryan Nece, who was practically added to the Detroit Lions off the street. Overall, Dizon finished with a miniscule 28 tackles, no interceptions, and no sacks. Sure, Dizon is young, but linebackers who are worth their salt tend to produce early: there is a reason that the defensive rookie of the year is a linebacker more often than not.

From a statistical measure, Connor registered even less than Dizon: he was placed on injured reserve early in the season after notching only four tackles. Sure, there is still hope: another highly touted big ten linebacker, Chad Greenway, turned out to be an excellent player after being on injured reserve for his rookie season. Let's be honest, if I had the pick again, I would have taken it back. So far, it looks like I blew it in the second round. Both of these guys look like busts at this point, so although you may call it differently, I would call it a tie.

Edge: Tie

Round 3 (Running Backs)
Actual Detroit Lions: 3(64) Kevin Smith, RB
Me vs. Millen Lions: 3(66) Jamaal Charles, RB

Kevin Smith was the Detroit Lions' best value pick in 2008, and quite possibly, Matt Millen's first decent third round pick ever (Who is the competition, Keith Smith?). Kevin Smith posted the following numbers:

Att Yds Avg. TD Rcpt RYds. RTDs
238 976 4.1 8 39 286 0

I admit, Kevin Smith exceeded my expectations. I thought that he was too slow to be an effective running back and that he was too tall and skinny ton run with the power necessary to make up for his lack of straight line speed. However, he has proven to be elusive and tough. His lack of speed is still a significant drawback--for instance, there were a few runs that he could have broken for big gains if he had just a little bit more speed. However, based on his performance in his rookie year, he looks like he can be a solid contributor / role player.

Jamaal Charles in his own respect, was not a complete bust in spot duty with Larry Johnson:

Att Yds Avg. TD RCP RYds. RTDs
67 357 5.3 0 27 272 1

So Charles didn't get a lot of carries, but he certainly has done well with the few opportunities he has had. Despite their disappointing regular season, Charles is part of what is widely considered a successful draft class for the Chiefs. The biggest knock on Charles is that he is injury-prone: when he was asked to be the horse for Kansas City after Larry Johnson got hurt, he quickly followed him into the training room.

Overall, I think that Kevin Smith is the clear winner here, despite the yards per carry disparity. Staying healthy is a skill: Kevin Smith made a strong case that he can be an every-down back in the NFL (don't get your hopes up, though: see, Kevin Jones), and Jamaal Charles proved that he is probably an above average change-of-pace back.

Edge: Millen

Round 3 (Remainder) and Round 4
Actual Detroit Lions: 3 (87) Andre Fluellen, DT; 3 (111) Cliff Avril, DE
Me vs. Millen Lions: 3 (87) Anthony Collins, OT; 4 (111) Ali Highsmith, OLB

Let's start with Cliff Avril. Cliff Avril had a great rookie season for a late round third pick, garnering 5.0 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. It's the best rookie season for a Detroit Lions defensive end since Kalimba Edwards (yikes!). That said, 5.0 sacks for a rookie defensive end is a great start--defensive ends tend to take a long time to develop, so we have reason to hope for good things from Avril in the future.

On the other hand, Andre Fluellen (the man some call "Flu," and makes the rest say "who?"), despite his press clippings, has been a non-factor. Despite starting two games and appearing in eight, Andre Fluellen has garnered only seven tackles, and four of those were assists. Andre Fluellen has performed at the level that we have come to expect from a Matt Millen third round pick (see also Keith Smith, Stanley Wilson, Brian Calhoun, Andre Goodman).

Like Cliff Avril, Anthony Collins is also a lineman who has shown promise in limited action. He was asked to fill in for an injured Levi Jones against a very tough Steelers defense and the consensus amongst team observers is that he performed admirably and that he is a building block for the future.

Thesaurus.com lists over two dozen synonyms of the word "mistake" and I think I have uttered all of them to describe my ill-advised pick of LSU outside linebacker Ali Highsmith in the fourth round of my imaginary draft thing. I drafted Ali Highsmith despite the fact that he was small and ran a slow-as-molasses-or-Maurice-Clarett 40 yard dash. When the Detroit Lions pick came up I thought, "hey, productive LSU linebacker, I heard he was supposed to go here, so why not pull the trigger" and I didn't check the stats. Whoops, he went undrafted. Bless his heart, though, Ali Highsmith did his best to redeem me as less than complete idiot. Through what must have been pure pluck and moxie, Ali Highsmith ended up making the Arizona Cardinals' 53 man roster and even registered some stats. He even had as many solo tackles as STARTING Detroit Lions defensive lineman Andre Fluellen!

So what's the verdict on these players? Basically, with this batch Millen and I each drafted a lineman who showed promise and a player who is still kicking round a roster but doesn't look like much. If you haven't been following the Bengals, you might want Avril more than Collins, but keep in mind that due to Millen's incessant trading (which I rejected) the Me vs. Millen Lions have also retained a fourth round pick in the 2009 Draft. So would you rather have Cliff Avril and Andre Fluellen or Anthony Collins, Ali Highsmith, and a 2009 fourth round pick? Reasonable minds could differ, but I'm calling this one a wash.

Edge: Tie

Rounds 5-7
Actual Detroit Lions:
5 (136) Kenneth Moore, WR
5 (146) Jerome Felton, FB
7 (216) Landon Cohen, DT
7 (218) Caleb Campbell, S

Me vs. Millen Lions:
5 (136) John David Booty, QB
5 (146) Trae Williams, CB
6 (176) Peyton Hillis, FB
7 (216) Darrell Robertson, DE
7 (218) Wallace Gilberry, DE

Let's start with the Lions. Kenneth Moore was a flat-out bust, getting cut in training camp. He was eventually signed by the Panthers, but failed to register a stat. Jerome Felton started the year as the Detroit Lions' starting fullback, although he was not particularly impressive in limited action and was ultimately demoted to second string once the Detroit Lions signed Moran Norris. Landon Cohen made some press by impressing coaches in practice but had a Andre Fluellen-type impact when he did get on the field. Caleb Campbell didn't even make it into training camp when the Army's policy excusing his military service obligation if he made the roster was superseded. It feels pretty cheap to ding the Detroit Lions for that one, but the Detroit Lions knew about his military commitment and assumed the risk that the policy that allowed him to play could be rescinded or superseded.

Many of my picks were similarly unimpressive. John David Booty made the Viking roster as the third string emergency quarterback and never saw the field despite the fact that some guy who started for the Lions in the late 90's early oughts was holding down the fort for the purple people eaters. Trae Williams was cut from the Jaguars and was signed to the Philadelphia Eagles' practice squad and that's about where it ends. Darrell Robertson recently signed a "future free agent" contract with the New England Patriots, but I'm not holding my breath. I'm still not completely sure which team Wallace Gilberry signed with as an undrafted free agents (according to KFFL, he signed with both the Giants and the Redskins) but now it looks like he's with the Kansas City Chiefs. I think he may just be collecting jerseys at this point.

There is one late-round pick that I am proud of, however: Peyton Hillis.

Peyton Hillis filled in for a seemingly never-ending string of injuries to Denver's running backs and was quickly added to fantasy football rosters around the country. These are great stats for a rookie sixth round pick:

Att Yds Y/A TD Rcpt Ryds RTds
68 343 5.0 5 14 179 1

Unfortunately, Hillis was eventually bitten by the same injury bug that had gotten the rest of the Denver Broncos running backs, or he could have put up even more good numbers.

Sure, I know that the Denver Broncos go through productive running backs like the Lions go through offensive coordinators, but how many draft picks after the third round in Millen's eight years of drafting that you wouldn't trade for Peyton Hillis? Dan Orlovsky? Terrence Holt? Alex Lewis? Anthony Cannon?

Even without Hillis, I probably would rather keep the players that I took late.

Edge: Me

Overall

I actually was going to give a slight edge to Millen here based on Kevin Smith, but my brother (who pulls no punches, mind you) said something to the effect of "you could plattoon Charles and Hillis and that would be as good as Smith: it's a tie" so I guess I will defer to him. You're free to draw your own conclusions, of course, and I will admit that it's silly for me to be the objective judge of a competition wherein I am a participant.

And for Millen, congratu-freakin'-lations. I'm a guy who doesn't have access to a scouting department beyond Mel Kiper and Mike Mayock--and hell, doesn't even watch college football--and you played me to a tie or a near-tie in what was probably your best or second-best draft in eight years. The point was never that I would be good at this--the idea that I could saunter onto the internet and compete with the Pioli's and Ozzie Newsome's of the world is beyond laughable. The point was that you were not any better than (or worse) than the average joe at building a football team, and my goal was prove that that wasn't hyperbole.

So for the record, I was also right about Derrick Harvey, Jordon Dizon, and Darren McFadden, but I was also hilariously wrong about the top three quarterbacks in the draft (although I still contend that Flacco eventually will be exposed as a sub-standard quarterback on a team with a great defense).
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January 17th, 2009, 12:50 pm
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I have to be honest that I didn't follow the draft with NEARLY the same hope in 2008 as usual because Millen had beaten me down!

I knew that we wouldn't be doing anything that would make this team a serious playoff caliber team, and I wasn't believing that we were even a legit 7-9 team after we played a pathetic schedule to get that 6-2 start.

However, I did post on this board that I was EXTREMELY impressed with Jeff Otah from the 2 games I saw him play. Like you mentioned S&C......we don't have 1/1000 of the film or TIME to watch that film.....but I still was impressed with Otah as a OLT prospect. At the very least, I was sure he could be a GREAT ORT......and therefore, at least as good as Cherilous. And gurus like Mayock seemed to echo that sentiment, which I did even voice BEFORE the college season was over and had even heard their opinions on him.

Here was my post on him that I wrote on 12/14/07......well before the hype season began.....

Quote:
Posted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:04 pm Post subject: Jeff Otah

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I know it is early for the draft, but I don't think it is EVER too early to talk about the draft!

The reason I wanted to get to this post early is because I have liked Otah since I saw him JUMP OFF THE FILM against MSU earlier this year.

A few of us have discussed him in other threads, but I wanted him to get some exposure here early so when the HYPE hits him, then we can say it was a "1st guess" on our part!!!

Anyhow........I was cruising some draft sites and found Brian's favorite "guru" Scott Wright had put Otah #1 on his "Prospect Hot List" at NFLdraftcountdown.com as a player that currently has a lot of BUZZ. I do find this to be HILARIOUS since Scott Wright has now moved Otah from about #5 on his list all the way up to #2 as a senior OT........AFTER we were already talking about him.

Here is Scott Wright's analysis:

Quote:
A JUCO transfer who just started playing football as a senior in high school, Otah is only beginning to tap into his immense potential. In fact, the sky might be the limit for him as he becomes more technically sound and really begins to master the nuances of the game. Otah has the size ( 6-6, 340 ), athleticism and feet to play left tackle in the NFL although his best fit may be on the right side. Think of him as a poor-man's Jake Long or Levi Brown but with more long-term upside. Otah is already considered to be a sure-fire 1st round pick and his stock continues to soar so don't be surprised if he's ultimately the second senior offensive tackle chosen.





I think this is a guy that could step in IMMEDIATELY at ORT with his ample size, yet he has the athleticism to move to the OLT position if he continues to develop. That would seem to be IDEAL for where the Lions are in regards to Backus' contract and personnel NEEDS as well.

Obviously, I don't know if he truly loves the game, which I feel is important to know before you actually draft him......BUT, this is the type of guy that may not go in the top 10 picks but could have as much or more potential than others taken earlier.



I heard nothing but good things about Otah this year in Carolina. Their improved POWER running game totalled 30 TDs between the 2 RBs......and they were a top 3 rushing offense in the NFL this year. DeAngelo Williams didn't "magically" learn to run better this year, so I'm betting Otah's arrival and the development of Kalil and the O-line had much more to do with their huge improvement.

And.....the fact that Otah could be a franchise OLT at some point......only makes me more confident that he was the BEST option for the Lions, and Millen blew it again.



I also completely hated the Dizon pick in round 2 since I just don't agree with drafting 220 ILBs in the first 4 rounds of the draft. It would be one thing if he was a developmental player taken in the 5th round.....where you can be patient and hope he can put on some weight. BUT....Dizon may even be too short to carry any more weight.

I can't really say WHO I would have picked......because that isn't fair to do with "20/20 hindsight"......and I already HATED the Tampa 2 system we were running, so I wouldn't have wanted to pick a bunch of undersized players to fit Rod's scheme.

Also......another thing that is tough to in this exercise.....is to deal with the draft day trades. In most of the last 5 drafts of the Lions, I would have traded down with at least 1 of those top 5 picks. I know some have said that "you have to have a willing partner" to trade, but there were confirmed offers released to the media, and I sure there were other offers out there is Millen had not asked for the Moon in return.

That sure doesn make this a challenge for anyone who wants to compare what they could do against an actual GM...... because we don't what they have planned beyond the "current" pick. In other words.....we can't form a plan that really is necessary to execute a good draft.

S&C......

I think you did a good job. You no way to know that the Lions would end up with three picks in the 3rd round.......so that may have even changed your strategy and improved your results even more.

I'll be looking forward to doing this challenge this year......now that we have somebody different making the selections.....for a coach who we know will want to add some SIZE to our terrible defense!


January 17th, 2009, 2:19 pm
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phunnypharm wrote:
I have to be honest that I didn't follow the draft with NEARLY the same hope in 2008 as usual because Millen had beaten me down!

I knew that we wouldn't be doing anything that would make this team a serious playoff caliber team, and I wasn't believing that we were even a legit 7-9 team after we played a pathetic schedule to get that 6-2 start.

However, I did post on this board that I was EXTREMELY impressed with Jeff Otah from the 2 games I saw him play. Like you mentioned S&C......we don't have 1/1000 of the film or TIME to watch that film.....but I still was impressed with Otah as a OLT prospect. At the very least, I was sure he could be a GREAT ORT......and therefore, at least as good as Cherilous. And gurus like Mayock seemed to echo that sentiment, which I did even voice BEFORE the college season was over and had even heard their opinions on him.

Here was my post on him that I wrote on 12/14/07......well before the hype season began.....

Quote:
Posted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:04 pm Post subject: Jeff Otah

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I know it is early for the draft, but I don't think it is EVER too early to talk about the draft!

The reason I wanted to get to this post early is because I have liked Otah since I saw him JUMP OFF THE FILM against MSU earlier this year.

A few of us have discussed him in other threads, but I wanted him to get some exposure here early so when the HYPE hits him, then we can say it was a "1st guess" on our part!!!

Anyhow........I was cruising some draft sites and found Brian's favorite "guru" Scott Wright had put Otah #1 on his "Prospect Hot List" at NFLdraftcountdown.com as a player that currently has a lot of BUZZ. I do find this to be HILARIOUS since Scott Wright has now moved Otah from about #5 on his list all the way up to #2 as a senior OT........AFTER we were already talking about him.

Here is Scott Wright's analysis:

Quote:
A JUCO transfer who just started playing football as a senior in high school, Otah is only beginning to tap into his immense potential. In fact, the sky might be the limit for him as he becomes more technically sound and really begins to master the nuances of the game. Otah has the size ( 6-6, 340 ), athleticism and feet to play left tackle in the NFL although his best fit may be on the right side. Think of him as a poor-man's Jake Long or Levi Brown but with more long-term upside. Otah is already considered to be a sure-fire 1st round pick and his stock continues to soar so don't be surprised if he's ultimately the second senior offensive tackle chosen.





I think this is a guy that could step in IMMEDIATELY at ORT with his ample size, yet he has the athleticism to move to the OLT position if he continues to develop. That would seem to be IDEAL for where the Lions are in regards to Backus' contract and personnel NEEDS as well.

Obviously, I don't know if he truly loves the game, which I feel is important to know before you actually draft him......BUT, this is the type of guy that may not go in the top 10 picks but could have as much or more potential than others taken earlier.



I heard nothing but good things about Otah this year in Carolina. Their improved POWER running game totalled 30 TDs between the 2 RBs......and they were a top 3 rushing offense in the NFL this year. DeAngelo Williams didn't "magically" learn to run better this year, so I'm betting Otah's arrival and the development of Kalil and the O-line had much more to do with their huge improvement.

And.....the fact that Otah could be a franchise OLT at some point......only makes me more confident that he was the BEST option for the Lions, and Millen blew it again.



I also completely hated the Dizon pick in round 2 since I just don't agree with drafting 220 ILBs in the first 4 rounds of the draft. It would be one thing if he was a developmental player taken in the 5th round.....where you can be patient and hope he can put on some weight. BUT....Dizon may even be too short to carry any more weight.

I can't really say WHO I would have picked......because that isn't fair to do with "20/20 hindsight"......and I already HATED the Tampa 2 system we were running, so I wouldn't have wanted to pick a bunch of undersized players to fit Rod's scheme.

Also......another thing that is tough to in this exercise.....is to deal with the draft day trades. In most of the last 5 drafts of the Lions, I would have traded down with at least 1 of those top 5 picks. I know some have said that "you have to have a willing partner" to trade, but there were confirmed offers released to the media, and I sure there were other offers out there is Millen had not asked for the Moon in return.

That sure doesn make this a challenge for anyone who wants to compare what they could do against an actual GM...... because we don't what they have planned beyond the "current" pick. In other words.....we can't form a plan that really is necessary to execute a good draft.

S&C......

I think you did a good job. You no way to know that the Lions would end up with three picks in the 3rd round.......so that may have even changed your strategy and improved your results even more.

I'll be looking forward to doing this challenge this year......now that we have somebody different making the selections.....for a coach who we know will want to add some SIZE to our terrible defense!


Hey Phunny,

Thanks for the good word! After Carolina's running game took off last year, you definitely deserve credit for Otah. I admit that I wasn't high on him because of character concerns, which is why I leaned towards Cherilus, but it is looking at this point that he would have been the better pick (although he did not last to the Lions). Otah looks like a best so far... and if Gross leaves in free agency, we might see how Otah does on the left side. Hopefully with somebody else pulling the trigger (admittedly Millen's underlings, however) the draft will be more engaging for you. Even though it brings disappointment ultimately, since the product the Lions put on the field is so bad sometimes it is more fun to focus on the draft!

You are definitely right that the whole idea of "draft day trades" messes me up in this exercise. The way that I do it is that if Millen makes a trade, I can choose to either accept or reject it. So when Millen traded up into the third round to take Avril, I simply said "I reject Millen's trade-up" and drafted from the original position. You're right that it still puts me at a disadvantage, however, because if Millen left a great trade down opportunity on the table, I would have no way of knowing about it.

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January 18th, 2009, 9:59 pm
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Quote:
it is looking at this point that he would have been the better pick (although he did not last to the Lions).


We picked Gosder at #17.....and Carolina picked Otah at #19.

It isn't a big deal, since it still came down to perhaps a small difference between the 2 players. Some like the fact that Gosder had MUCH more experience as a starter at a school with a good track record of producing NFL O-linemen.

For me personally.......it looked like a GREAT opportunity to not only benefit from trading down......but to get the guy I liked.


January 20th, 2009, 2:28 pm
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phunnypharm wrote:
Quote:
it is looking at this point that he would have been the better pick (although he did not last to the Lions).


We picked Gosder at #17.....and Carolina picked Otah at #19.

It isn't a big deal, since it still came down to perhaps a small difference between the 2 players. Some like the fact that Gosder had MUCH more experience as a starter at a school with a good track record of producing NFL O-linemen.

For me personally.......it looked like a GREAT opportunity to not only benefit from trading down......but to get the guy I liked.


My bad, you're completely right about Otah going after Gosder. What tackle do you like this year? I am actually leaning towards Eugene Monroe, given that he has the most experience, is the best pass protector, and was so good that Branden Alpert couldn't beat him out for the left tackle position at Virginia.

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January 24th, 2009, 12:21 pm
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Strawberries&Chocolat wrote:
phunnypharm wrote:
Quote:
it is looking at this point that he would have been the better pick (although he did not last to the Lions).


We picked Gosder at #17.....and Carolina picked Otah at #19.

It isn't a big deal, since it still came down to perhaps a small difference between the 2 players. Some like the fact that Gosder had MUCH more experience as a starter at a school with a good track record of producing NFL O-linemen.

For me personally.......it looked like a GREAT opportunity to not only benefit from trading down......but to get the guy I liked.


My bad, you're completely right about Otah going after Gosder. What tackle do you like this year? I am actually leaning towards Eugene Monroe, given that he has the most experience, is the best pass protector, and was so good that Branden Alpert couldn't beat him out for the left tackle position at Virginia.


I really haven't watched enough college football this year to give an informed opinion on which OLT prospect Iliked the best, but I have wondered why Monroe isn't getting more publiciity. For all of the reasons you mentioned, it doesn't seem like Monroe is getting as much Pub as he might deserve.


January 24th, 2009, 11:54 pm
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Here is the Lions Draft Report I wrote AFTER the draft:
Quote:
Grading the Lions 2008 Draft Picks

1-(Round 1, 17th overall) OT Gosder Cherilus, Boston College
It was a good move for the Lions to trade down to get the player they wanted. And all indications are that the Lions had Cherilus targeted as their desired pick, after Derrick Harvey and Jerod Mayo were off the board. However, I still feel that this was a bit too high for Cherilus, who is viewed as strictly a right tackle in the NFL by most scouts. Still, there were seven tackles taken in round one. He probably wouldn’t have lasted much longer had the Lions not made him the pick there. While he did play on the left side in his senior year at BC, he was clearly out of position. Cherilus is a solid run blocker, with good leg drive and the ability to get to the second level downfield. He has a mean streak and a good overall physical build. The big question is why the Lions passed on Branden Albert, who could have played RT for the Lions and could have developed as a LT in the NFL, which is a much more prized commodity. Will Cherilus flourish in Larry Colleto’s planned zone blocking scheme for the offense? We’ll found out, because he is likely to become the starter immediately. Let’s hope he can remember the snap count.
Pick Grade: B (fills a big need, slight reach)

2-(Round 2, 45th overall) LB Jordan Dizon, Colorado
Among Lions picks, this is one that I question. Dizon is a good tackler, something the Lions need. His work ethic and love of the game is unquestioned. His instincts are superb and he has play-making ability galore. However, the Lions are in dire need of a middle linebacker for their Tampa Two defense, and I just don’t see Dizon as the guy for the job. He is a poor man’s Ernie Sims, in my opinion, who better fits the weak side position in this defense. To my knowledge, Dizon has no experience playing inside. He has good speed and the ability to cover in the deep middle of the field. That doesn’t mean he’s a good fit at the Mike. If nothing else, Dizon will split time with Alex Lewis at the strong side for this season, and the Lions will endure another year of Paris Lenon in the middle. At nearly six foot and 225 lbs, we have safeties bigger than Dizon on our roster.
Pick Grade: C- (good talent but questionable for the MLB position due to size)

3-(Round 3, 64th pick overall) RB Kevin Smith, Central Florida
This is the one pick the Lions made that I was very happy with. While some may think that passing over Jamaal Charles was a mistake, Smith is a much better fit for this offense. Kevin Smith has very good field vision, which is required in a zone blocking scheme. He has the ability to break tackles, get positive yardage and enough speed to break away from defense backs once he gets into the secondary. I don’t know that it was necessary to trade up two spots to get him, but a sixth round pick is a slight price to pay for your next starting running back.
Pick Grade: A- (starting quality running back at a very good value)

4-(Round 3, 87th overall) DT Andre Fluellen, Florida State
The Lions needed to add some depth and a possible future starter at defensive tackle in this draft, so I agree with this pick. At one time Fluellen was considered a possible second round talent. He may need to bulk up, but he has a great work ethic and a non-stop motor. He has quick hands and a good first step. Given that Shaun Rogers is gone, Chuck Darby is on the wrong side of 30 and Shaun Cody has been pretty much a bust, Fluellen should see a significant amount of time in his rookie campaign.
Pick Grade: B+ (solid player that fills a need at a good value)

5-(Round 3, 92nd overall) DE Cliff Avril, Purdue
Here is another questionable pick, in my eyes. Although defensive end is a strong need for this team, I don’t see Avril bulking up to the tune of 15-20 lbs. in his first season so as to be able to effectively contribute against big NFL tackles. Top that off with the fact that he cost the Lions their 4th round pick next year, in addition to the fourth round pick this year (#111) and his selection comes at a greater cost than normal. Avril is a versatile player, and has had experience as a linebacker, where he started for Purdue this past season. Avril is yet another pick who shows outstanding football character, with a great work ethic and a desire to succeed. However, he was projected as more of an outside rush linebacker for a team running a 3-4 scheme. While his pick here was a very good value, his fit on this defense is a mystery to me. He won’t hold up well against the run at his current weight, and he is raw as a down lineman/pass rusher.
Pick Grade: C+ (Very good value, but will he fit the system?)


6-(Round 5, 136th overall) WR Kenneth Moore, Wake Forest
This pick just stupefies me. A wide receiver? There were so many other players available that could have made more sense, at least to me. ILB Jonathan Goff, OG Roy Schuening, CB Orlando Scandrick…..all would have been better picks. Yes, the Lions need an experienced kick returner, and Moore saw time in that role in college. However, he doesn’t have a great burst, doesn’t have a second gear and will sit very low on the receiver depth chart, if he makes the team at all. By far, my least favorite selection of this draft.
Pick Grade: E (Not a position of need, could have gotten better value)

7-(Round 5, 146th overall) FB Jerome Felton, Furman
Felton is not a prototypical full back. His lead blocking ability is extremely suspect, and he has some durability issues. However, he is strong as a bull and fits the bill for short yardage specialist. I would hope that this is what the Lions had in mind when they selected Felton with this pick. He is very good at breaking tackles, and his acute balance means he doesn’t go to the ground easily. As a pass catcher, there is some improvements needed. A good all around athlete who may find a way to sneak onto the active roster, but I see his 2008 season being spent more on the practice squad, unless there’s a backfield injury.
Pick Grade: C (Good player but questionable value)

8-(Round 7, 216th overall) DL Landon Cohen, Ohio
Before the Lions made him their pick, I had never heard of this guy. Though he was listed as a defensive tackle, his size translates more to defensive end in the NFL. There were other players available that would have made better sense to me. DT Lionel Dotson, OT Geoff Schwartz or RB Justin Forsett would have been better options. Time will tell if Cohen can make a difference, but I have strong doubts.
Pick Grade: D (Small school prospect with little chance of catching on)

9-(Round 7, 218th overall) LB Caleb Campbell, Army
The ‘feel good’ pick of the draft belongs to the Lions. Campbell is an average athlete with a great motor and solid tackling ability. However, he played safety in college but projects to linebacker in the NFL, a position he has little experience with. Campbell is not great in coverage, has stiff hips and doesn’t have great speed. He is very instinctive when it comes to defending the run, and is a strong hitter. His character is unquestionable, and he shows good football intelligence. He may turn out to be a career special teamer. He does have injury concerns.
Pick Grade: B- (Good player who needs to make a position change)

Overall Draft Grade: C
Best Pick: RB Kevin Smith

Analysis: The Lions got their immediate offensive needs, but their defensive needs weren’t properly addressed. Dizon and Avril are players who were selected for their football character more than for their experience at the positions they will be asked to play. Andre Fluellen was a good pick, but DT wasn’t a glaring need for the Lions. The trade to move up and get Kevin Smith was good, but the trade up for Cliff Avril cost the Lions next seasons fourth rounder. I don’t agree with that move. The selection of Kenneth Moore was a waste of a pick to me, and could have been used much more effectively. In my opinion, Matt Millen and company continue to fail in the later rounds, and still make somewhat questionable picks in the early rounds.

My approach:
Round 1-Trade down with KC, same stipulations
Pick-DE Phillip Merling, Clemson
His draft stock fell because of a sports hernia surgery. Miami got him at the top of round two. He doesn’t really fit their defense, but he was too good a value for them to pass up. Depth at DE was far more limited in this draft than at OT.

Round 2
Pick-ILB Dan Connor, Penn State
I knew he wouldn’t be a first round pick, but for him to fall into round three was beyond my understanding. Connor would be ideal for the Lions patrolling the middle of their defense, and would have been a more sensible pick than Dizon.

Round 3-Trade up with Miami, same conditions
Pick-RB Kevin Smith, Central Florida

Round 3-From Cleveland for S. Rogers
Pick-DT Andre Fluellen
Both of the above third round picks were sound selections and I wouldn’t change them.

Round 4-this pick was traded to get Cliff Avril
Pick-OT Anthony Collins, Kansas
A fourth round STEAL, in my opinion, for the Bengals, and the Lions could have had him. A good talent with a questionable work ethic, he has a tremendous amount of upside and could end up being the steal of this draft. Marinelli prides himself on being a motivator. This would have been another opportunity to prove that out. Of course, the Lions had no idea he would still be available here when the draft started.

Round 5-pick from KC trade, traded down to NO, added #218
Pick-CB Orlando Scandrick, Boise State
Despite the signing of Brian Kelly and the trade for Leigh Bodden, it is my opinion that the Lions’ secondary is extremely suspect. Keith Smith is a decent nickel back, but Stanley Wilson isn’t developing and Travis Fisher is a joke. Why they resigned him is beyond me. Scandrick is very fast and was climbing up draft boards. He lacks ideal technique, but his athletic skills can’t be taught and he could have been afforded the time to develop for the Lions.

Round 5
Pick- OLB Marcus Howard, Georgia
Could have been the player to compete with Paris Lenon or Alex Lewis for the strong side linebacking spot. Howard has good blitz ability and was playing out of position for the Bulldogs (DE). His technique as a linebacker would have to be developed, but he has the athletic skills to make it happen.


Round 6-traded to Miami in round three

Round 7
Pick-OT Geoff Schwartz, Oregon State
Geoff seemed to be rocketing up draft boards, but fell significantly into the seventh round on Sunday. A big tackle with a wide wing span, he would have been a solid backup and would have allowed the Lions to move Jonathan Scott inside.

Round 7
Pick-FB Peyton Hillis, Arkansas
If the Lions are to establish their running game, they need a true lead blocker. Jerome Felton is not it, and Hillis was the battering ram for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. Though I like the Caleb Campbell pick and all that it represents, this would have been a better team pick.


I don't know that I would give myself that nod over Millen, but I think that we would have better talent on the defensive side of the ball had we gone my route. Avril was a pick I questioned, but he turned out to be solid. I thought the Cherilus pick was OK, but I didn't like the fact that he was strictly a right tackle being taken that early. The Lions would have been better served to take Branden Albert with their original pick. As it stands, Cherilus had a tough time keeping Foster's fatass on the bench. What does that tell you? And consider that Otah AND Sam Baker were selected after him, and it tells you all you need to know. Baker was very solid for Atlanta. So why hasn't anyone mentioned him?


January 26th, 2009, 12:52 pm
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Remember Kevin Smith couldn't even get the starting job from Rudi? That should go more on Rod being a dumbo then Cherilus being bad.


January 26th, 2009, 3:50 pm
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M2K, I would definitely give you the nod over Millen (and probably over "Me" as well). Although I will say, as you note with Collins, that the exercise is considerably more difficult if you try to do it while the draft is going on without the benefit of hindsight.

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Alphonso Smith for Dan Gronkowski? Epic fail, McDaniels.


January 26th, 2009, 10:37 pm
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