It is time to rebuild the Detroit Lions the right way.
Going 0-16 is a complete joke, and it reflects directly on the moves Matt Millen made during his time here. In some ways I wish he would have been around at the end of the season to be a part of those last few weeks.
Due to the fact that he was such a terrible talent evaluator, Millen could never find good players in later rounds. It really showed when his first and second round picks did not pan out, and there was no talent to fall back on (Charles Rogers and Mike Williams to name a couple). Those two are also a good example of another reason the Lions are so talent depleted: you cannot take so many wide receivers in the first round and expect to have a chance to compete. That is something I don’t even want to get into, or it will bring back terrible memories for me, and it is time to look toward the future.
To begin the rebuilding process, William Clay Ford Sr. promoted two executives from within. Martin Mayhew is the new General Manager, and Tom Lewand is the new President. I have no problem with Lewand as he is a money guy and deals mostly with the cap. But to have no interview process, and just promote Mayhew from within is not right.
I am not here to bash Mayhew, and I think he got it right during his opening press conference when he said to judge him on his actions, not on how he got to Detroit. However, there needed to be at least interviews with execs outside of the organization. He has been described as one of the brightest young execs in the NFL, and it was rumored that he was one of the voices against many of the Millen draft picks, so I have hope… I guess.
As for the talent that is currently on the team: The Muffin Man has a good blog explaining some of the bright spots currently on the roster (http://the-muffin-man.blogs.sportsl
48295). Calvin Johnson, Kevin Smith, Ernie Sims, Nick Harris, Gosder Cherilus, Daunte Culpepper, Keary Colbert, Mike Furrey/Shaun McDonald, Jeff Backus, and Jason Hanson is about all they have. Some serviceable players they can use during the rebuilding process are Dominic Raiola, Leigh Bodden, Shaun Cody, and Paris Lenon.
As you may have noticed, I mentioned Culpepper in that talk. I almost started to say that I do not think that he is the long term answer here. However, after realizing that he is getting up there in age, I reexamined my thought. I believe that with a solid line in front of him, he could be the Lions starting QB for the next 4 or 5 years, which would pretty much be until he retires. He has a Randy Moss type guy in Megatron and a soon-to-be good run game behind him with K-Smith. Furthermore, when he got here midway through the season, he showed some leadership in the locker room and won over some teammates.
Now that segues me to the draft. Since the Lions have a quarterback in place for the next few years, they can wait to draft their franchise QB for a year or two. So, if they are unable to trade the top pick, which would be the best option because they need so much help, they need to start building from the inside out. That means Offensive and Defensive Line.
The best line prospect out there is Andre Smith from Alabama. Yes, he just got suspended and did not play in the Sugar Bowl, but that was because he allegedly contacted an agent too early. If the Lions draft him to play left tackle, they can move Jeff Backus to Guard, and that would all but complete the O-Line. A free agent signing or 4th round pick for the other guard should do it. The line would be set for a long time to come.
My plan differs from most people because I would advise the Lions to pass on a QB this year and go with a Tackle. To back this up, I did some research. I looked up where all of the 32 starting quarterbacks at the end of the year were drafted. Also, for the purposes of this I used Tom Brady and Matt Cassell, since the Patriots are supposedly going to put their Franchise Tag on Cassell. Also, I used Carson Palmer. So, I am using a total of 33 QBs for 32 teams.
Of the 32 starting QBs, 16 were drafted in the first round. So that automatically gives the Lions a 50-50 shot at drafting a good quarterback with this first overall pick. Of those 16, three were taken first overall. So, only 3 teams out of 32 start a quarterback that was taken first overall, not good odds. By the way, those three are Peyton and Eli Manning, and Carson Palmer. I don’t think any of the QBs coming out this year are of that quality.
As for the other half of the league: three starters from round 2, two starters from round 3, two starters from round 4, zero starters from round 5, three starters from round 6, two starters from round 7, and 5 undrafted starters. Some highlights: Drew Brees (2), Brett Favre (2), Tom Brady (6), Matt Cassell (7), Kurt Warner (Undrafted), and Tony Romo (Undrafted).
Pretty much what I am saying is that the Lions have just as good of a chance at drafting a franchise QB in the later rounds as they do in the first round, let alone the first overall pick.
For the rest of the picks I propose this: primarily defense until the 3rd or 4th round, then take a QB and hope he pans out to be one of those unexpected guys. Also, take an O-Lineman in the 4th round too. Then defense again for the rest of the draft, as that is what needs the most help.
To wrap it all up, The Lions should try to trade down and get Michael Oher from Mississippi. However, the first pick has become impossible to trade in today’s NFL. Therefore the Lions need to rebuild the right way, offensive line by the way of Andre Smith, and then defense. Then take a QB in the latter rounds every year if that’s what it take to get a guy to replace Culpepper.
The Lion’s time is now. They can make a 5 or 6 game improvement with a few good picks in this year’s draft. They can then continue that progress with some smart picks in the 2010 draft. Maybe by 2011 they will be back in the playoff hunt if they choose a good coach.
As for that, I have not mentioned the coaching prospects yet have I? They need a coach with mental toughness and a strong belief in Mayhew’s system. Now if that does not sound like Rod Marinelli, I don’t know what does. The fact of that matter is that Marinelli was not a good head coach. The only hope I have is that Martin Mayhew knows what he wants in a head coach and gets one of the guys that is expected to be a good head coach in this league. They cannot go after the “next great unknown guy” again. I would really like a coach with head coaching experience, but that seems a bit rare this year.
The Detroit Lions need to rebound from the worst season in NFL history, and from the last eight years. Get that bad taste of Matt Millen out of their mouths. The time to rebuild is now, and it’s time to Rebuild the Right Way.