Tag:Detroit Lions
Posted on: March 25, 2010 1:38 pm
 

Lions thinking Trent Williams at 2?

Two days ago I wrote that the Detroit Lions might have another offensive tackle in mind than Russell Okung with the second overall pick.

Today, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew confirmed as much, according to an article penned by Nicholas J. Cotsonika of The Detroit Free Press. Cotsonika asked Mayhew a question about Okung and whether he was the top tackle in the class.

Mayhew's comment back was: “I think big picture, overall, taking everything into account, there are probably two guys that are the best two out there.”

The comment, taken out of context, does not mention Okung nor any other player by name. However, since the question asked was about Okung, it seems reasonable to assume that Okung is among the two OTs Mayhew is referring to.

Cotsonika asked the logical follow-up question as to who the second offensive tackle was. Mayhew, not surprisingly, declined to identify him. (Or for that matter, verify that Okung was among the top two.)

In the previous blog post I wrote (linked above), I'd reported that three different offensive tackles were nominated by scouts as the top at the position -- Okung (who received 2 of the 4 votes), Oklahoma's Trent Williams and Iowa's Bryan Bulaga.

What is interesting about my little straw poll was the feedback I've received from scouts since I wrote about it.

I've spoken to several scouts and frotn office executives throughout the league who adamantly proclaimed that Bulaga, due to his short arms (32.5") and only marginal upside "did not deserve to be in the conversation" as the top OT. One source noted that there were zero offensive line coaches present at Iowa's Pro Day, whereas there were "several" at Oklahoma State and Oklahoma's.

In these conversations Okung was repeatedly characterized as the "safest" of this year's class, but that it was Williams whom scouts felt had the most upside.

Last year, the tackle many scouts felt was safest -- Virginia's Eugene Monroe -- "fell" to Jacksonville and 8th pick. The tackle scouts felt had the most upside -- Baylor's Jason Smith -- went to the Rams with the second overall pick.

Could Trent Williams be poised to accomplish the same feat?

Personally, I'd still be surprised to see anyone other than Ndamukong Suh be the second pick of this draft, but if the Lions elect to protect their investment in quarterback Matt Stafford with a blindside protector, Trent Williams, not Russell Okung, could be the pick.
Posted on: March 23, 2010 5:02 pm
 

Okung not the consensus top OT

Lately there has been growing speculation that if the St. Louis Rams take Sam Bradford with the first pick of the 2010 draft, as expected, the Detroit Lions might pick left tackle Russell Okung next.

The rationale behind taking an offensive tackle is simple. The Lions just invested nearly 42 million guaranteed dollars into quarterback Matt Stafford. They need him protected. The Lions have also added defensive linemen Corey Williams and Kyle Vanden Bosch during the off-season, lessening the need for Ndamukong suh or Gerald McCoy, the defensive tackles most rate as the two best players in the draft.

According to sources throughout the league, however, if the Lions do indeed take an offensive tackle second overall, it won't necessarily be Okung.

I spoke to representatives of four teams in the past few days. Though none of the representatives were willing to tell me who their team, collectively, had as their top-rated offensive tackle, I was able to get their personal opinions on who should be the first blocker drafted April 22nd.

Two of the four polled had Okung as the top rated tackle. Iowa's Bryan Bulaga and Oklahoma's Trent Williams, however, each received a vote, as well.

Okung, a four year starter, has the experience and consistency scouts like. The two scouts who picked Bulaga and Williams, however, nitpicked about his lack of elite athleticism and conversion from a spread attack.

The conversion from a spread attack applies to Trent Williams, as well. Williams, who demonstrated eye-popping athleticism at the Combine, has only one season at left tackle, however. There are some who believe he has the most upside of this talented OT class.

Bulaga is actually viewed as the safest of the trio by many scouts, including three of the four I polled. Already technically refined, however, he may lack Okung and Williams' upside, which is why he only earned the one vote as the best tackle of the class. 

Regardless of the order they are selected, there is a growing consensus that all three tackles will be drafted among the top ten.

Some believe, in fact, that the three will join with Bradford, Suh and McCoy in some order as the top six picks of the draft.

Posted on: February 25, 2010 10:45 am
 

Upcoming NFL personnel podium schedule

As mentioned in a previous post, San Francisco GM Scot McCloughan and head coach Mike Singletary led off today's interviews.

They will be followed by:

  • Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz
  • Buffalo head coach Chan Gailey
  • Pittsburgh Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert
  • Miami General Manager Jeff Ireland
  • Kansas City General Manager Scott Pioli

Posted on: January 9, 2010 2:43 pm
 

Senior Bowl Coaching Staffs -- Mia vs. Det.

In prepping for what will be my tenth Senior Bowl, I was pleased to read that the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins will be the coaching staffs in place for the Mobile all-star game classic.

For one, Jim Schwartz and Tony Sparano are innovative, high-energy coaches that will push the players throughout the week of practice. If everything I've heard about these teams' practice habits are correct, the drills and scrimmages will be run efficiently. Teaching and coaching will be a focus, but the players won't be over-worked on scheme or re-working their technique. They'll be allowed to play and, more importantly, audition for the hundreds of scouts in attendance.

Secondly, with their varied offensive and defensive schemes, we'll get an opportunity to see these prospects preparing to play in or prepare for the 4-3 and 3-4 defenses, as well as pro-style and Wildcat offenses. The variety of scheme is particularly important for judging whether 'tweener players could effectively transition to an NFL system -- as in the case of undersized pass rushers potentially making the jump to the rush OLB position in the 3-4 or "Slash" quarterback types.

Considering the coaching choices, I'll not be at at all surprised when some of the more hotly debated senior prospects that fit in these two categories -- Tim Tebow, Dan LeFevour, Sergio Kindle, Ricky Sapp, Wille Young, etc. are ultimately invited to this game.



Posted on: October 7, 2009 5:44 pm
 

Ridicule Crabtree now, he'll make you a believer

I am as disappointed in the lengthy holdout by Michael Crabtree and his agent Eugene Parker as anyone. The decision to do so netted very little -- if any -- extra money and robbed Crabtree of the opportunity to have the breakout rookie campaign that his unique skill and San Francisco's need for a playmaking wide receiver made seem possible.

That said, for those of you who enjoy badmouthing professional athletes and some of their dubious decisions, laugh now, because Crabtree has the kind of talent to rival Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin as the premier pass-catchers of the NFC West division -- and he could do so within a year from now.

In ten years of scouting there is only one receiver I've seen with more natural talent than Crabtree and that was Calvin Johnson.

Prior to the draft, NFLDraftScout.com rated Crabtree as our top-rated prospect. I stand behind that assessment and applauded San Franciso for their decision to take him with the tenth overall pick.

I recognized the issues that came with Crabtree. His holdout, while longer than anticipated, surprised no one.

But believe me when I tell you, that among the scouting community, no one will be surprised when this kid develops into a Pro Bowl receiver, either...
Posted on: September 7, 2009 1:59 pm
 

Starting Stafford a huge gamble for the Lions

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz announced after practice today that #1 overall pick Matthew Stafford will be the starter over veteran Duante Culpepper for Week One against the Saints.

Schwartz, like the head coach of any team that used a first round pick on a quarterback, is in a tough spot. The financial commitment made to Stafford forces the team to consider using him, even if he isn't necessarily ready. This isn't to say that Stafford isn't. He is as physically talented as any quarterback I've scouted in the 10+ years I've been doing this. His mental toughness and poise consistently impressed me throughout his collegiate career and in the workouts leading up to the draft.

I believe, however, that the greatest single reason why there continue to be so many first round busts at quarterback is that too many rookies are thrown into the fire. I do not believe the success from Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco last season are reason enough to believe that rookie quarterbacks are suddenly more ready for the rigors of an NFL season. Atlanta and Baltimore had the luxury of strong running games and defenses to foster development of a young passer. Detroit hasn't yet shown either. The New York Jets, on the other hand, do have these factors working in the favor of Mark Sanchez. Should the Jets capitalize on their talent and the enthusiasm Rex Ryan has brought to the franchise by winning early with Sanchez, the pressure will only increase on Stafford to duplicate the success. Some will question if Sanchez shouldn't then have been the #1 pick rather than Stafford.

I believe Stafford has the tools to be a successful NFL quarterback -- someday perhaps even a Pro Bowl quarterback. And I certainly understand the impulse to start him now and allow him to develop a relationship with Calvin Johnson and the rest of the starting Lions.

But for a quarterback who completed 54.5% of his passes over the preseason with a touchdown to interception ratio of 1-4 over four preseason games, it might be too soon. 

And starting any rookie quarterback too soon is a huge gamble.   
Posted on: August 15, 2009 6:19 pm
 

2009 Begins Now -- Rookie Impressions -- Stafford

I've always found it interesting that for all of the pre-draft hype, there is very little reporting done on a national scale as to how rookies are actually performing during the preseason.

For this reason, I'll be watching as many preseason games as possible over the next few weeks and providing my impressions of the rookies' play in the blog.

Of course, the majority of my reports will be on the early round picks. However, I've already been impressed by several late rounders in the early preseason games and will be reporting on them here as this occurs.

That said, as the first overall pick of the 2009 Draft, it is only appropriate that my first Rookie Impression was Matthew Stafford's performance against the Atlanta Falcons today.

Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions, QB - #9 : Entered halfway through 2nd quarter against mostly second-team defenders for the Falcons. Accurate, rifle arm apparent early. Zipped passes over the middle and down the sideline, impressing early despite two ugly drops by veteran Keary Colbert. Tried to do too much with some interior pressure in his face and rushed a quick-out to the tight end Dan Gronkowski, which linebacker Tony Gilbert (ironically, a former UGA Bulldog) stepped in front of and returned for an easy 42 yard touchdown. Stafford shouldn't have thrown the pass, but in his defense, he took immediate pressure and there has been a troubling lack of separation shown by Detroit receivers throughout this game. Came back in his next series to lead Detroit to the Lion's first offensive touchdown of the preseason. Drive started at own 20. Showed good toughness and a recognition of the first down marker in recognizing tight coverage and releasing to scramble for the first down early in the drive. Ran hard and drug two Falcon defenders to get the yardage. Threw a beautiful flag route for a 25 yard touchdown to fellow rookie Derrick Williams over tight coverage. Veteran-like throw. Looked off the defense, good release and follow-through despite taking a hit from a blitzing safety to complete the pass. Put the ball over Williams inside shoulder and into his out-stretched arms where only he could touch it. Stafford, who came in roughly halfway through the second quarter, was replaced by veteran Drew Stanton after his touchdown throw, approximately midway through the 3rd. He finished 7 of 14 for 114 yards and 1 TD, 1 INT. He was considerably better than his numbers would indicate, losing at least 35 yards in drops. 


Posted on: April 25, 2009 6:23 pm
 

Eagles add another playmaking WR, Lions now up

Earlier today I was asked to compare Jeremy Maclin to an NFL receiver and I described him as a better version of Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson... Looks like we'll see how that comparison holds up, with the Eagles taking the versatile playmaker in a trade up.

The Lions are now on the clock and are in position to take the OT Michael Oher, if they'd like. The Lions are also in real need of a DT, so watch out for Peria Jerry or Ziggy Hood. The ILB Maualuga makes a great deal of sense, as well... ILB might be the team's biggest area of weakness, but teams are up and down on Maualuga, whose off-field concerns are significant.

Instead the Lions take Brandon Pettigrew, who gives the Lions an immediate target over the middle and a stout, physical presence as a blocker in the running game...

Perhaps I should have listened to my own advice. Most of my "safe" picks are flying off the board right now, whereas potential character concerns (Oher, Maualuga, Harvin, etc) are slipping...

The Browns -- AGAIN -- are on the clock and should consider Beanie Wells at this spot. Just too much talent at this point.
 
 
 
 
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