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 Millen TALKS drafts Past and Present! 
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Post Millen TALKS drafts Past and Present!
The above?phrase is a revered philosophy for many NFL defensive coordinators. But it's also a fitting way to describe the Detroit Lions' rationale heading into next weekend's college draft (April 23-24).


Sitting at No. 10 in the first round, the?front office?is flush with drafting options -- whether?they're targeting?offensive and defensive line, linebackers,?the secondary?or receivers.?Instead?of necessitating their decisions from a "need" perspective,?Lions President and CEO Matt Millen maintains?the club?will explore all avenues before they're "on the clock."


"Right now, our options are wide open,"?Millen said Thursday. "We could move up; we could move back. We could take an offensive or defensive player. I just think we have a lot of options?sitting (at #10), where our team is talent-wise.


"We?(wanted) to bring in as?many different guys," he adds, "so we can look at all of them and talk?to them again...let our coaches get a feel for them and then let them get a feel for this place."


Speaking generally?about this year's talent crop, Millen seems especially intrigued by how things will shake out in the latter rounds.


"I think, looking at the draft, it is strong on the top end of a few different positions, and the middle is not real strong," says Millen, candidly. "On the lower end, there are some possibilities -- there are some good receivers, good running backs and good cornerbacks. Believe me, there are enough players to go around."


With three choices in the first 72 selections, the Lions can address their needs with top-flight prospects. According to a number of NFL mock drafts, there are seven offensive players destined for top-10 status: Quarterbacks Alex Smith (Utah)?and Aaron Rodgers (Cal), running backs Ronnie Brown (Auburn), Carnell Williams (Auburn)?and Cedric Benson (Texas)?and receivers Braylon Edwards (Michigan) and Mike Williams (USC). The Lions, according to Millen, may covet one of these players.?But they?could also?land?the best?prospect at defensive line, linebacker, safety, cornerback, tight end or offensive line.


Last week, the Lions brought in the quarterback Smith for a?meet-and-greet session?-- with no fanfare.


"We didn't try to do anything under the radar. It got reported the way it got reported," says Millen, alluding to?Smith's?tame visit?to the Lions' headquarters. "I think anybody we bring in here is a prospect for us -- every single guy we brought in -- or we wouldn't bring him in.


"Would I be interested in Alex Smith? Absolutely. Both of them. (Stanford tight end Alex Smith is also a notable prospect in the draft)," Millen adds. "Every guy we brought in here, I would love to have. In fact, I am going to petition (NFL Commissioner Paul) Tagliabue to where we can have the first 10 picks this year."


All kidding aside, Millen acknowledges the club has gone through painstaking preparations for this year's draft. And the legwork?-- conducted by a large group of unsung scouts and coordinators --?is nearly finished.


"(We're) close. We are making good headway," Millen says. "The (on-campus) visits are done. Past that, we set The Board. Then we go through everything again: We set medical grades...character grades and do all that stuff until we get the final board set. That will be set next week."


In the last four years, Detroit has drafted and developed Shaun Rogers, Jeff Backus, Dominic Raiola, Joey Harrington, Kalimba Edwards, Andre' Goodman, Charles Rogers, Boss Bailey, Cory Redding, James Davis, Terrence Holt, Kevin Jones, Teddy Lehman, Alex Lewis and Roy Williams.?With these successes, the franchise can afford to prudently?maximize its options,?says Millen.??


"I am going to take the best player we can get, period...and what fits us right," he says. "I could go offense or defense -- really anything."


The top defensive prospects include: Cornerbacks Antrel Rolle (Miami), Adam "Pac-Man" Jones (West Virginia), Carlos Rogers (Auburn), Fabian Washington (Nebraska), Justin Miller (Clemson)?and Marlin Jackson (Michigan); safeties Thomas Davis (Georgia), Brodney Pool (Oklahoma) and Ernest Shazor (Michigan); linebackers Derrick Johnson (Texas), Shawne Merriman (Maryland), Channing Crowder (Florida), Darryl Blackstock (Virginia), Barrett Ruud?(Nebraska)?and defensive linemen Travis Johnson (Florida State), Erasmus James (Wisconsin), Anttaj Hawthorne (Wisconsin), Shaun Cody (USC), Dan Cody (Oklahoma), David Pollack (Georgia)?and Demarcus Ware (Troy).


Detroit's?top receivers are Williams, Rogers and Az-Zahir Hakim. And Millen intimates the club could spend a high pick on another well-regarded pass-catcher.


"As far as the receiver depth, we don't have great depth. Will we look at receiver? Yes...but that doesn't mean we will take one," Millen says. "There's still free agency, there's still June 1 (free agency) coming up, if you want to go that route. There's enough talent here."


Millen even took time to express his happiness at the steady recoveries of Williams (ankle) and Rogers (collarbone) from injury.


"Roy looks great and he is doing well," Millen says. "The medical staff thought that it wasn't going to be anything that would hold him back. In fact, he's pushing himself pretty good."


And regarding Rogers: "I don't have (a durability) concern for Charles. I have viewed (his collarbone injury last year) as a freak thing...I was talking to the medical people about this, 'Charles hasn't crossed my mind,'" Millen says. "He is training better than he's trained; he's running better than he's run -- he is doing everything. It is not even a second thought."




NOTEBOOK


*When asked if drafting QB Alex Smith at No. 10 was unrealistic, Millen retorted, "Is it a long shot? I am not the first couple teams drafting, so I have no idea."


*Millen offered an opinion of heralded linebacker Derrick Johnson of Texas, perhaps the best available player at his position.


"He's a good player and has a big upside," he said. "He's a playmaker; we?brought him through."


*Finally, Millen talked about the team's progress during conditioning sessions, which began April 4.


"I am very pleased right now with our off-season stuff -- in the weight room and running. Our conditioning has been very good."

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April 17th, 2005, 12:27 am
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The whole ALEX SMITH THE QB, THE TE deal was bunk... Are the lions seriously considering taking a QB?

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April 17th, 2005, 12:30 am
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Smoke? Or does Millen really have no idea what he's going to do?

I admit I'm still confused in a situation I usually know exactly where I stand by this time... it's a week before the draft and I know nothing!!!

I do think how much people talk down DJ and talk up the others... he probably will drop to the lions spot.

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April 17th, 2005, 12:54 am
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Joined: March 22nd, 2005, 8:42 pm
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Millen has always displayed a balance between BPA and Need. I think he would consider Smith just as he drafted Harrington. However, the scenarios are quite different. Quarterback is not a need position and a very good player other than QB will be available at #10. If Smith did fall to ten it would be trade bait more than likely.



Millen's Draft Book: Five Basic Draft Principles (compiled last year)

1. Take the best available player: Although "best" exists only in the eye of the beholder, this is an often quoted maxim suggests that you must think long rather than short term and from that perspective the best football player will contribute more than a lesser player, even if you have no glaring need for him currently. Lions example: Gallery is the best thing in any draft, a certain stud, probably pro bowler, that you can pencil in for 12 years as your LT, one of the most important position in football. Conventional wisdom says that the lions with two above average Ts who would only make adequate guard should not take him. However, having the best LT in football for 12 years protecting your QBs blindside will upgrade your completion percentage, big plays, time of possession, and running average, third down percentage to such an extent that should take him. Things change quickly in the NFL. One day you think Porcher is a Pro Bowler, the next season you wonder if he is washed up. Take the best available player.

2. Fill your needs: The draft is the primary place to acquire talent for your team, so it is inevitable that you would have to temper principle one with principle two: seek out players that address your weaknesses. These two countervailing principles meet in the middle, it is most often not an either/or question. If three players are on the board and have nearly identical grades you take the player that fills your need. If the positions you need are not likely to be available where you are picking in the first or second round, you try to move up or down to get them at a fair value range. Lions example: Gallery might be your highest rated player, but Taylor, Roy Williams, and K2, positions of need are rated just one grade lower. Who do you pick?

3. Don't become enamored with a particular player: Bill Walsh continues to make a career of the fact that he moved up to grab a relative slow WR from tiny Mississippi Valley State. Since that stroke of genious GMs have been trying to replicate it, and with a dismal success rate. Lions Example: Ross was infatuated with fast lineman like Gibson and Rocque because he believed that in his power running game strength at the point of attack was all that mattered. Nearly all the busts of the Ross years were attributable to reaching: Green, Fair, Westbrook.

4. Chose a player that fits your scheme: The success of a player is not dependent upon his intrinsic physical skill, but his ability to produce inside your offensive and defensive system. If you run a complex read and react defense that requires significant diagnosis a slower player that has great fundamentals and instincts will far outpeform a much quicker athlete who lacks these football instincts. Lions Example: The lions drafted Rogers who has great deep speed but so-so acceleration. Although he showed signs of being a productive player before getting hurt, he was getting jammed a lot and Joey did not have time or the arm to deliver the ball on the fly routes in which he excells. A quicker WR or TE that uses his body would fit in much better in Detroit's scheme.

5. It is the inside not the outside that matters: Coaches love speed and atheleticism and they use diagnostics like the 40 time to rate players according to their "ability". Of course, there are other measures too like the wonderlic and the three cone drill, but all this obsession with physical attributes that can be measured often leads coaches to overlook a basic thing: is this guy a football player or playmaker? Lions Example: Taylor is falling because of his poor work out, his subpar bench pressing, and his so-so 40 time. Come on! I personally would not draft any safety this side of Ronnie Lott at #6 especially in this draft, but that guy can play the game of football. He has the instincts, discipline, and mental edge to be successful and whoever gets him will be very happy with his productivity.


April 17th, 2005, 2:45 am
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Joined: February 11th, 2005, 3:01 pm
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i def agree w/ your draft principles idea but it should also include college productivity and health, slightly more emphasis on intrinsic ability...
where did you get c. rogers has so-so acceleration, he makes sick moves off the line of scrimmage when there is a bit of a cushion. Bump can stop him but the CB is taking a big risk bc he can burn past you...


April 17th, 2005, 10:33 am
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Yeah CRog is fast from low gear to high gear. You can't run a 4.3 unless you got that burst from 0. Plus every year they say he's gotten faster... I don't know if there's any truth to that... but it has to be true that he plays faster with a better understanding of the game.

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April 17th, 2005, 2:53 pm
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