Tag:Detroit Lions
Posted on: September 21, 2010 1:43 pm

Impressive rookie Lions: Best, Suh tops this week

Each Tuesday I'll list two first year players -- one on offense, one from the defense -- as my official NFLDraftScout.com's Rookies of the Week.

Various rookies enjoyed strong performances in Week One. On offense, Denver wideout Demaryius Thomas had a strong first game to his NFL career against the Seahawks with 98 receiving yards and a touchdown. Dallas' Dez Bryant, who I recognized last week in this space as a "honorable mention" Rookie of the Week, enjoyed a strong second game as well, with 52 receiving yards and a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears. I try to look beyond just the "skill" position players for these awards and I was mightily impressed with the drive blocking of San Francisco left guard Mike Iupati last night against the Saints, as well as that of Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey in the Steelers' win over the Titans.

In the end, however, this week's Offensive Rookie of the Week was a no-brainer.  

Though his Detroit Lions lost to the Eagles Sunday, Jahvid Best was absolutely electric. He had 232 total yards from scrimmage (17 attempts for 78 rushing yards and nine receptions for 154 yards) and scored three more touchdowns. His five touchdowns over the first two weeks of the season lead the NFL. Some anticipated that an athletic and aggressive Philadelphia defense would tee off on Best considering the marginal downfield passing of Detroit backup quarterback Shaun Hill. With the Eagles crowding the line of scrimmage against the run, Hill simply found Best as an outlet receiver. Once in the open field, Best's agility and straight-line speed make him a matchup nightmare. Best is the first rookie to score five touchdowns in his first two NFL games since another Lion, Billy Simms, accomplished the feat 30 years ago.

On the defensive side of the ball, there were again several worthy candidates, though in my opinion this week's award was just as much a no-brainer. Sean Weatherspoon (Falcons), Koa Misi (Dolphins) and last week's honoree T.J. Ward (Browns) were impressive again. I was also impressed with the coverage supplied by Denver cornerback Perrish Cox. His coverage helped shut down the Seahawks reclamation project, Mike Williams, and his interception of Matt Hasselbeck ended any chance of a Seahawk comeback.

However, Ndamukong Suh proved to be every bit the dominant player against the Eagles we projected he'd be in the NFL. Suh posted eight tackles -- second most in the league by an interior defensive lineman -- and recorded his second sack in as many games. The Lions featured Suh and Best on the same play twice Sunday, with Suh lining up as Best's fullback.

Posted on: August 2, 2010 9:23 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2010 11:59 am

Okung, not Suh/Spiller, most critical holdout

Despite lots of talk heading into the start of training camps about potential rookie holdouts, 29 of the league's 32 first round picks have signed contracts with their NFL teams in this, the first week of August.

The three remaining -- No. 2 overall pick Ndamukong Suh, No. 6 overall pick Russell Okung and No. 9 overall pick C.J. Spiller -- were the three most celebrated senior players at their respective positions in all of college football last season. Obviously, the Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills, respectively, want their first round picks in camp as soon as possible. Each are expected to be immediate impact starters for their clubs.

Suh and Spiller are the two more celebrated players and no doubt will generate more of the media attention. The Lions and Suh's agents -- Roosevelt Barnes and Eugene Parker -- are thought to be relatively close to a deal which could put NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated 2010 prospect in Detroit by the end of the week.

Spiller, represented by agent Gary Wichard, however, could be in for a longer holdout. The reigning ACC Player of the Year seemed resigned to that possibility by indicating in a chat with fans at The Sporting News that he was going to "... let my agent handle all of that. We're not going to rush. We're going to make sure we cross our T's and dot our I's, however long the process takes. I just have to be patient. I can't get antsy about the situation. I've talked to a lot of veteran guys. My teammates aren't concerned about me holding out. They know that I want to be there, but at the end of the day it's a business. You have to do what's best for your family. It was good to get that support from veteran guys already — before negotiations have heated up."

It is Okung, however, whose holdout could prove to be the story.

Like Spiller, Okung's contract talks have appeared to hit a significant snag. ProFootballTalk.com reported yesterday that a deal between the Seahawks and Okung's agent Peter Schaeffer is "not even close." Seattle Times beat writer Danny O'Neil noted that Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll labeled his projected starting left tackle's absence as a "concern for him every day."

Suh and Spiller are readier to make an immediate impact. Suh is such a dominant player that I expect him to standout at defensive tackle as a rookie -- a truly rare feat. Spiller, due to his electricity and the relative "ease" of rookie running backs enjoying success in the NFL, projects as one of the league's surest highlight reel additions from the 2010 draft.

Okung, however, is being asked to play the position some believe is second only to quarterback in terms of difficulty adjusting from the NCAA to NFL. With the notable exceptions of Joe Thomas, Ryan Clady and Jake Long, few rookie left tackles have been able to come into the NFL and play well immediately.

I personally attended and scouted some of Okung's first practices as a member of the Seattle Seahawks during June OTAs. While Okung's length and strength were obvious, it was also clear that the former All-American still had a ways to go before understanding the intricacies of Alex Gibbs' vaunted zone-blocking scheme.

Okung is in charge of protecting the blindside of a soon-to-be 35-year old Matt Hasselbeck. If that wasn't enough pressure, he's being asked to replace Walter Jones -- the best player in team history.

The Seahawks certainly won't admit it publicly, but they know they need to get Okung in the fold. With Okung out, the Seahawks have former fourth-round pick Ray Willis, a natural right tackle, starting on the left side. When Willis was given Monday's practice off to rest, veteran guard Mansfield Wrotto, another former fourth round pick, was given the nod. Neither Willis nor Wrotto have demonstrated to this point the ability to consistently hold a starting position in the league. Both, due to marginal agility, are potential liabilities in Gibbs' system -- at any position -- much less the critical left tackle spot.

In a new offense with new coaches, the Seahawks could struggle to protect Matt Hasselbeck even with Okung starting. They're in a potentially dire situation without him.

It doesn't get any simpler for the Seahawks than this -- the more games Matt Hasselbeck starts for the Seahawks this season, the greater chance Pete Carroll has of improving on Seattle's 5-11 record last year. Until Okung signs, however, neither Hasselbeck remaining healthy nor the Seahawks improving in the win column seems likely.
Posted on: July 15, 2010 11:27 am
Edited on: July 15, 2010 12:28 pm

Supplemental "mock" draft -- my final predictions

Predicting the April draft is difficult enough, but I thought it would be fun to try an educated guess as to which NFL teams will take which of the four eligible players in today's Supplemental draft.

Today's draft, which begins at 1 pm EST, is expected to take 60-75 minutes, as each round is supposed to take 10 minutes. Unlike the April draft which features all of the hype, hoopla and grandiose parading on stage, this draft is done strictly via email between the league, itself, and each of the 32 teams.

The inherent risk in projecting which club will take which player is that I (or others) may be completely right in predicting Team X will take Player Y, but if another team with a higher selection takes the player, we'll never know. The NFL has never released the actual "results" of the supplemental draft in years past. Of course, they announce the "winners," but we'll never know, for example, if there were other teams that also wanted former Kentucky DE Jeremy Jarmon last year in the 3rd-7th rounds. Washington offered the highest pick -- a third rounder -- last July and, as such, was awarded Jarmon.

Here is what I've learned over the past 24 hours...

Two of the teams I'd previously heard were interested in BYU RB Harvey Unga are clearly not -- the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks did not bring in Unga for a physical, I'm told, and let's face it, with Unga's history of injuries, no team is going to draft him that hasn't had their doctors check him over.

There does appear to be legitimate interest by the Eagles, Bucs, Steelers, Dolphins and Chiefs for Unga.

Detroit, New Orleans and Green Bay appear to be the most interested in defensive tackle Joshua Price-Brent.

My final predictions?

Both players go in the 6th round. Unga is taken by the Bucs or Chiefs; Price-Brent is taken by the Lions.

Care to try and beat me? I'd be interested to read your takes. You have two hours (or so) to weigh-in.

Posted on: April 24, 2010 8:26 pm
Edited on: April 26, 2010 11:26 pm

SEA, SF, DET, OAK among draft "winners"

I've been working on grading the drafts of all 32 teams for the past few hours. Here are the clubs that immediately stood out to me:

Seattle: Tough to argue that they had a spectacular draft. The Seahawks filled their two biggest needs (OT, S) in the first round with Okung and Thomas and proceeded to get one of the better big play receiver/returners in the draft in Golden Tate, address concerns at RB with trades for veterans Leon Washington and LenDale White and might have found two Day Three steals in Walter Thurmond and Anthony McCoy. If there is something to find fault in Seattle's draft it would be that the two defensive ends they selected -- E.J. Wilson and Dexter Davis -- aren't likely going to be enough to replace Patrick Kerney.

San Francisco: I've always been a believer in building through the offensive line so I might be higher on the 49ers' draft than others would be. I believe the 49ers panicked a little bit in trading up for Anthony Davis, but in taking he and guard Mike Iupati, the team is building one of the more talented offensive lines in all of football. Considering the talent they have on defense and their skill position players, Alex Smith doesn't have to win games, he just has to manage them. That strategy won the Baltimore Ravens a Super Bowl not too long ago.

Detroit: Suh was a no-brainer with the second pick, but I like the rest of their draft, as well. Jahvid Best has to stay healthy for this draft to really be a standout one, of course, but I like the no-nonsense manner of this draft. Suh, Best, Spievey and Fox could all be in the starting lineup by midseason.

Oakland: I know, I know. What were the odds that I'd be listing the Raiders as one of the "winners" of the draft, but I have to admit it, I love what they did. The combination of Rolando McClain and LaMarr Houston makes this team instantly better against the run. I like the upside in tackles Veldheer and Campbell and like that there was still some Al Davis element to the draft, as well, in the selection of track star (and underrated football player) Jacoby Ford too. Trading for Jason Campbell was just the icing on the cake. He certainly never proved to be a superstar for the Redskins, but compared to JaMarcus Russell and Bruce Gradkowski, he might as well be.

Posted on: April 23, 2010 3:23 pm

NFC North First Round Comments

Following the conclusion of the draft, I'll be providing grades for all 32 teams. I've begun the process of writing these grades up based on what transpired in the first round yesterday. I'll be posting comments for each team, by their division, in the blog over the next few hours.

Here is how I saw the action from the NFC North perspective:

Chicago Bears:
With their picks already used in the trades for quarterback Jay Cutler and the late Gaines Adams, the Bears could only be spectators in the first round. The team’s first scheduled pick isn’t until the 3rd round, the 75th overall.

Detroit Lions:
The Lions made the easiest selection in the draft when the best player in the country, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, fell into their lap. He’ll provide an immediate difference up front for head coach Jim Schwartz, a man that knows the value of a dominating defensive tackle considering his background with Albert Haynesworth.

Green Bay Packers:
The first round couldn’t have worked out better for Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers, as the team needed help up front and got one of the safer offensive tackles in the draft in Iowa’s technically refined Bryan Bulaga to fall into their lap. Bulaga’s short arms might have scared off some, but he’ll provide immediate depth at all four exterior positions for the Packers and will eventually take over the starting role for either left tackle Chad Clifton or right tackle Mark Tauscher.

Minnesota Vikings:
Just as the Baltimore Ravens were able to take advantage of the aggressive Denver Broncos and gain several valuable picks in a trade down, Minnesota added picks in the second, fourth and seventh rounds by letting Detroit move up to take running back Jahvid Best with the 30th overall selection.

Posted on: April 22, 2010 7:52 pm

Suh to Detroit, McCoy to Tampa easiest picks

It is rare to say this, but I was more worried about the Rams taking someone different with the first pick of the draft than the Lions with the second.

I've been emphatic and unrelenting in my support of Ndamukong Suh as the best player in this draft. He fills an immediate need for the Lions up front, though I can see why some would make the argument that protecting Matt Stafford was the even greater concern. Still, comparing a very good Russell Okung or Trent Williams to a simply dominant player like Suh is what made this pick so easy.

Similarly, Tampa needed an infusion of talent along the defensive line if they are to make gains in the NFC South. McCoy fits their scheme beautifully and is as much a lock to go No. 3 (considering that Suh is off the board) as the big Nebraska DT was to go to Detroit a pick earlier.

Where things could get interesting is with the Washington Redskins and the 4th pick. I believe they'll pick Oklahoma offensive tackle Trent Williams.
Posted on: April 13, 2010 10:51 pm

WR Mike Williams impressive in Seattle debut

Former USC star and first round bust Mike Williams looked fit and comfortable at wide receiver in the Pete Carroll's debut practice as the new head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.

Williams was one of 17 tryout players that Carroll and general manager John Schneider brought in for the three-day mini-camp. Other notables included another famous washout receiver, Reggie Williams (no relation), formerly of the Washington Huskies and Jacksonville Jaguars, wide receiver/return specialist Kevin Robinson and veteran guard Terrance Metcalf.

Though pre-draft mini-camps rarely provide much new information helpful in draft prognostication, I have to admit I was impressed in watching Williams' strong performance today.

While it wouldn't be accurate to describe his speed off the line as explosive, the 6-4, 235 pound Williams was faster off the line than expected and showcased the strong, reliable hands that had characterized his brilliant collegiate career. Williams caught every pass I saw thrown to him (25-30 passes total), routinely snatching passes out of the air. He showed good body control in reaching low, behind and high to snag poor throws.  He also showed some vision and acceleration after the catch, weaving through the defense. Furthermore, he paid attention to his footwork as a route-runner, taking advice from veteran T.J. Houshmandzadeh, at times.

Williams was the No. 10 overall pick of the 2005 draft by the Detroit Lions. He struggled mightily acclimating to the NFL while in Detroit and fizzled quickly in Oakland and  Tennessee, as well. He saw the most time as a rookie for the Lions, catching 29 passes for 350 yards and one TD in 2005. Since, for three teams, he's only caught a combined 15 passes for 189 yards and 1 TD.

Williams is a long, long way from making the team. He'll need to be impressive this week just to be invited to training camp. It was, however, an impressive start to what could result in at least some redemption.

Posted on: April 5, 2010 1:54 pm

Trade for OG Sims means Lions locking in on DT?

The news that the Detroit Lions traded away their 5th round pick (133rd overall) to the Seattle Seahawks for offensive guard Rob Sims could have serious draft day implications.

Many have suggested that the Lions might want to take an offensive tackle like Oklahoma State's Russell Okung or Oklahoma's Trent Williams with their second overall pick. In doing so, the Lions, it was believed, would be moving former franchised left tackle Jeff Backus inside to left guard.

Sims started 46 games for the Seahawks, including 14 games last year at left guard. He'll likely be asked to remain at left guard for the Lions, keeping Backus as Matt Stafford's blindside protector.

With their offensive line more settled, Detroit won't be pushed into taking a lower rated player at a greater area of need. Allowed to take the best available player (and fit in their scheme), the Lions will almost surely draft either Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.

Unless, of course, they make another trade...
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