Friday, March 22, 2013

Where are the best players drafted?

There is no clear cut answer for the Detroit Lions' first round pick in the upcoming 2013 NFL draft. Guys like Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Chance Warmack, DeMarcus Milliner, Dion Jordan, and Ezekiel Ansah are all possibilities. They could even look to offensive playmakers like Cordarelle Patterson or Tavon Austin.

When deciding who to go for in the first round the Lions' will be looking at what they can get in later rounds and where the talent level drops off. For instance, while Alabama Guard Chance Warmack is a fantastic prospect, there are other guards that are also great prospects that will be available in the second and third rounds. Not to mention that the guard position is often devalued in the draft (remember David DeCastro in 2012?) so some great prospects could fall to later rounds.

Here is a look at the top ten players* in 2012 of positions that the Detroit Lions could potentially be looking at with the fifth overall pick of the 2013 NFL draft:

Name Round
Evan Mathis 3
Marshal Yanda 3
Alex Boone UDFA
Brandon Moore UDFA
Mike Iupati 1
Josh Sitton 4
Ben Grubbs 1
Jahari Evans 4
Andy Levitre 2
Jon Asamoah 3

There are only two first round picks in the top ten guards of 2012 and only two more in the top thirty (Note: Lions' starting left guard Rob Sims was ranked 11th and was a fourth round pick.).

4-3 Defensive Ends
Name Round
Cameron Wake UDFA
Brandon Graham 1
Jason Pierre-Paul 1
Derrick Morgan 1
John Abraham 1
Greg Hardy 6
Michael Bennett UDFA
Charles Johnson 3
Carlos Dunlap 2
Lamarr Houston 2

Less than half of the NFL's top ten 4-3 defensive ends were drafted in the first round (Note: the next five players on the list contain two UDFA's, a third round, and two fourth round picks).

Name Round
Antoine Winfield 1
Richard Sherman 5
Casey Heyward 2
Charles Tillman 2
Chris Harris Jr UDFA
Jason McCourty 6
Brandon Flowers 2
Devin McCourty 1
Tim Jennings 2
Champ Bailey 1

Early round picks seem to be well spent on the Cornerback position with only three of the top ten players being selected in later rounds (Note: Chris Houston was ranked 23rd and was originally a second round pick. The Lions traded a sixth round pick to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for Houston.).

Offensive Tackles
Name Round
Joe Staley 1
Duane Brown 1
Michael Roos 2
Ryan Clady 1
Andre Smith 1
Joe Thomas 1
D'Brickshaw Ferguson 1
Gosder Cherilus 1
Andrew Whitworth 2
Anthony Davis 1

The top ten Tackles from 2012 are mostly first round picks. This could be either from a greater ability to scout Tackles or the amount of emphasis teams put on the position. Luckily for the Lions they already have a first round pick on their roster and have the ability to add another in the upcoming draft.

Wide Receivers
Name Round
Andre Johnson 1
Demaryius Thomas 1
Reggie Wayne 1
Calvin Johnson 1
Vincent Jackson 2
Roddy White 1
Michael Crabtree 1
AJ Green 1
Brandon Marshall 4
Percy Harvin 1

Detroit Lions fans won't want to hear this but Wide Receiver is definitely in play for their first round pick, especially if they can trade back a few spots with someone trying to snag a QB. Cordarelle Patterson and Tavon Austin are two guys the Lions could target who would add another dynamic to the offense. I imagine Joeckel, Fisher, and Lane Johnson are higher on the Lions' board, but imagine Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush and Tavon Austin on the field at the same time. Yikes.

*Top players according to

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Guess at the Detroit Lions 2013 Roster: Offense

I went over the cap by a few million counting the defense as well, but as we all know there are ways to get under the cap if you aren't too far off. I also didn't use all of the draft picks or fill all of the roster spots so I'll rework the whole roster over the next few days.

Here's what I think (hope) the Lions' offense looks like in 2013:

Offensive Total Cost for 2013: ~$69.5 million

Quarterback (2013: ~$17.5 mil)

Matthew Stafford (Extend contract, 6 years $80 million)

Shaun Hill (Signed through 2013, 2 years $5.5 million)

Kellen Moore (Signed through 2014, 3 years $1.44 million)

Offensive Line (2013: ~$18 mil)

Riley Reiff (Signed through 2015, 4 years $8 million)

Rob Sims (Signed through 2015, 5 years $8 million)

Dominic Raiola (Signed through 2013, 5 years 23.4 million)

Bill Nagy (Signed through 2014, 4 years $2 million)

Gosder Cherilus (Re-Sign, 5 years $25 million)

Jason Fox (Tender at original round, $1.3 million)

Geoff Schwartz (Sign, 2 years $2.5 million)

Tight End (2013:  ~$6.5 mil)

Brandon Pettigrew (Signed through 2013, 5 year $14.6 million)

Tony Scheffler (Signed through 2013, 4 year $8.2 million)

Michael Williams (Draft 4th round compensatory pick, 4 years $2.5 million)

Wide Receiver (2013: ~$22 mil)

Calvin Johnson (Signed through 2019, 8 years $150 million)

Brian Hartline (Sign, 3 years $15 million)

Nate Burleson (Restructure/Extend Contract, 4 years $10 million)

Ryan Broyles (Signed through 2015, 4 years $2.68 million)

Marquise Goodwin (Draft 3rd Round, 4 years $2.75 million)

Running Back (2013: ~ $5.5 million)

Reggie Bush (Sign, 3 years $9 million)

Mikel LeShoure (Signed through 2014, 4 years $3 million)

Joique Bell (ERFA, $450,000)

Christine Michael (Draft 5th round, 4 years $2.25 million)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Guess at the Detroit Lions 2013 Roster: Defense

We're still a long ways off from knowing what the Detroit Lions 2013 roster is going to look like, but here's a guess at what the defense will look like along with possible contract numbers.

(Here's the offense's roster.)

Defensive Total Cost for 2013: ~56 million

Defensive Tackle (2013: ~$20 mil)

Ndamukong Suh (Signed through 2015, 5 years $60 million)

Nick Fairley (Signed through 2014, 4 years $10 million)

Sammie Lee Hill (Re-Sign, 2 years $3.5 million)

Glenn Dorsey (Sign, 1 year $3 million)

Defensive End (2013: ~$7 mil)

Lawrence Jackson (Re-sign, 4 years $8 million)

Bjoern Werner (Draft 1st round, 4 years $20 million)

Willie Young (Second Round Tender, $2.02 million)

Ronnell Lewis (Signed through 2016, 4 year $2.5 million)

Linebacker (2013: ~8.5 mil)

Stephen Tulloch (Signed through 2016, 5 years $25.5 million)

Justin Durant (Re-Sign, 3 years $6 million)

Tahir Whitehead (Signed through 2015, 4 years $2.3 million)

Ashlee Palmer (Signed through 2014, 2 year $3.25 million)

Travis Lewis (Signed through 2015, 4 years $2.15 million)

Cornerback (2013: ~14.5 million)

Chris Houston (Re-Sign, 3 years $18 million)

Leodis McKelvin (Sign, 2 years, $6 million)

Bill Bentley (Signed through 2015, 4 years $2.7 million)

Jonte Green (Signed through 2015, 4 years $2.2 million)

Chris Greenwood (Signed through 2015, 4 years, $2.2 million)

Conroy Black (Signed through 2014, 2 years $900,000)

Safety (2013: ~$6 million )

Louis Delmas (Re-Sign, 1 year $2.5 million)

Amari Spievey (Tender at original round, $1.3 million)

Jonathan Cyprien (Draft 2nd round, 4 years $4 million)

Ricardo Silva (ERFA; Re-sign, $450,000)

Tyrell Johnson (Signed through 2013, $715,000)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Detroit Lions 2013 Free Agents

2013 Free Agents:

Corey Williams DT
Gosder Cherilus OT
Lawrence Jackson DE
Cliff Avril DE
Jason Hanson K
Chris Houston CB
Louis Delmas S
Justin Durant LB
Dylan Gandy G/C
DeAndre Levy LB
Stefan Logan RB/WR/KR
Jason Fox OT
Jacob Lacey CB
Willie Young DE
Sammie Lee Hill DT
Corey Hilliard OT
Joique Bell RB
Don Carey S (signed one-year extension)
Nick Harris P
Will Heller TE
Kevin Smith RB
Pat Lee CB
Ricardo Silva S
Ashlee Palmer LB (signed two-year extension)

2014 Free Agents (prime candidates for release):

Kyle Vanden Bosch DE
Dominic Raiola C
Stephen Peterman G
Brandon Pettigrew TE
Shaun Hill QB
Jeff Backus OT
Drayton Florence CB
John Wendling S
Brian Robiskie WR

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Will the Detroit Lions Trade Down in the 2013 NFL Draft?

While it's highly likely that the Lions stay put at the number five overall pick in the upcoming draft, it's still fun to look at the possibilities of them trading down to acquire some extra picks.

This year's crop of quarterbacks leave much to be desired as none are projected as top-10 picks and few are projected first round picks. As we have seen in the past though teams will "reach" for quarterbacks, especially when drafting early in the first round. This is frowned upon by fans and analysts alike, but the hard truth is a team's quarterback largely dictates how the team will fare as a whole.

While there may not be a Luck or RG3 this year, if a team sees a guy that will help them win they shouldn't get to hung up on where they are drafting him. Nearly every team drafting in the top 10 will be looking for a quarterback at some point in the draft and if they see someone they like enough they could pull the trigger in the first round.

As it pertains to the Lions the teams drafting sixth through ninth could be potential partners to trade back as they all will be looking for a quarterback and Detroit most certainly will not (at least not before the 6th or 7th round). This will also largely depend on Kansas City, Jacksonville, Oakland and Philadelphia not selecting quarterbacks, but there are some seriously talented players they would have to pass in order to reach for a QB (which would also benefit the Lions).

Let's take a look at Detroit's potential trade partners:

Picking 6th: The Cleveland Browns. 

What they would have to give up: 1st, 4th and possibly 7th round picks, Lions send their 1st.

Why they would want to trade up:

Brandon Weeden wasn't very good in 2012. He has potential and he improved as the year went on, but the new front office will want to bring in competition. The Browns actually have a pretty good team outside of the quarterback position with a solid defense and young talent at the skill positions. They could see a quarterback that puts their team in  contention and would want to make sure no one else trades up in front of them and snags him.

Picking 7th: The Arizona Cardinals

What they would have to give up: 1st and 3rd round picks, Lions send their 1st and 5th.

Why they would want to trade up:

The cardinals are legitimately a few pieces away from being perennial playoff contenders. Their biggest need is a QB, but they also need offensive line help. If they can get someone to even somewhat competently play the QB spot they will be competitive. Even if there isn't a QB they are interested in, if Joeckel comes off the board early they may want to trade up to snag Fisher.

Picking 8th: The Buffalo Bills

What they would have to give up: 1st, 3rd, and 4th round picks., Lions send their 1st.

Why they would want to trade up:

I think the Bills are the least likely trade partners in this scenario as their offensive is predicated on their run game so they could really afford to either stick with Fitzpatrick or wait until a later round to draft a QB. There will be enough talent left on the board at this spot that they can't really justify spending three picks on one player, but with a new staff anything's possible.

Picking 9th: The New York Jets

What they would have to give up: 1st, 2nd, and 4th round picks, Lions send their 1st and 3rd.

Why they would want to trade up: 

There's a new GM in town, but Rex is going to be desperate to keep his job and he isn't going to do that with Sanchez at the helm. They likely won't give up that much for a QB, but it may be worth it to them to only be losing a 2nd and 4th round pick in order to stabilize their team.

What could make things really interesting is if Revis gets added to the mix. I've seen the Lions' lack of cap space mentioned, but Revis's numbers are not too far off of what the Lions have been paying Chris Houston (though Revis's cap number of $9 million in 2013 is somewhat prohibitive). Maybe the Jets would take the Lions' first and third round picks for their first and Revis. We can dream right?

Obviously things can and probably will get much more complicated on draft day, but this at least a glimpse of the possibilities the Lions have of trading down in the 2013 NFL draft.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Detroit Lions 2013 Offensive Line

Left Tackle // Jeff Backus

For the first time since 2001 it looks like the Lions are actually going to make a change at left tackle. The question is: Who is iron-man Jeff Backus going to hand the reigns off to? Or can he fight off the young bloods for one more season?

Second-year tackle Riley Reiff out of Iowa showed well last season as a part-time player mostly playing as a run-blocking tight end. Reiff got one start when Backus was held out of a game for the first time in his career.  Jason Fox, the fourth year man out of Miami, is also waiting for his chance and judging by Jim Schwartz's remarks seems to be in the mix. Corey Hilliard is another possibility, but he seems better suited to the back-up swing tackle role.

Another possibility is the Lions using their first round draft pick on a tackle. Texas A&M product Luke Joeckel is widely regarded as this year's top draft prospect and Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan has already been getting rave reviews during Senior Bowl week. It's hard to imagine them not selecting a pass rusher, but with a lack of quality quarterbacks in this draft quality lineman will be the first to go.

Possibilities: Jeff Backus, Riley Reiff, Jason Fox, Corey Hilliard, Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher. 
Most Likely: Riley Reiff

Left Guard // Rob Sims

Rob Sims was the Lions' best all around lineman in 2012 winning the Erik Andolsek award. He won't be going anywhere barring some strange turn of events. Sims took a few snaps at center during the off-season, but that was just a drill in case of emergency.

Possibilities: Rob Sims, Bill Nagy, Dylan Gandy
Most Likely: Rob Sims

Center // Dominic Raiola 

Raiola played pretty well in 2012 grading out positively in pass blocking, run blocking, and screen blocking according to The major concern is it looks like he started to fade down the stretch as he struggled the last five weeks of the season, mainly in run blocking.

The 34 year old center is also owed over $4 million dollars in salary. That's a lot of money to commit to an aging lineman. The problem is they don't currently have anyone on the roster that could seriously push Raiola for his job. If they wanted to make a change they would have to bring someone in either through free agency or the draft. Barret Jones out of Alabama or Travis Frederick out of Wisconsin are two draft possibilities.

If the Lions can't bring anyone in they could do much worse than Raiola provided he can at least maintain his level of play.

Possibilities: Dominic Raiola, Dylan Gandy, Barrett Jones, Travis Frederick.
Most Likely: Dominic Raiola 

Right Guard // Stephen Peterman

Peterman is owed over $3 million in salary and bonuses in 2013. He was's 38th ranked guard which is middle of the pack. The real problem is he was really inconsistent. Games where he pass blocked well he struggled in the run game and when he got the run game going he struggled protecting the quarterback. Similar to Raiola the Lions could do worse than Peterman, but I think he is most likely done in Detroit.

Mayhew snagged 2011 seventh round draft pick Bill Nagy out of Wisconsin off of waivers from Dallas in August and there have been whispers that he is expected to take over for Peterman. While that's a possibility, he is going to have to show vast improvement over his short rookie season where he really struggled with the Cowboys.

If the Lions look to the draft Barrett Jones and Travis Frederick are again possibilities who could start at guard and kick in to center when Raiola ends his career in Detroit. Another possibility is Larry Warford out of Kentucky who could be a steal in the second round.

Another possibility is Jason Fox kicking inside to guard, which I think is the most likely solution. The big concern there would be his injury history, but they would have Nagy on the bench just in case.

Possibilities: Stephen Peterman, Bill Nagy, Barrett Jones, Travis Frederick, Larry Warford, Jason Fox
Most Likely: Jason Fox

Right Tackle // Gosder Cherilus

If cap space wasn't such a big issue in Detroit there would be no question that the Lions would be offering Cherilus a lucrative contract. Cherilus was's 7th best graded tackle (2nd best right tackle) and earned their highest grade in pass blocking. Detroit suffered through the years of Cherilus trying to put it all together and he finally got it in 2012.Even more encouraging is the fact that Cherilus got better as the season went on. Unfortunately, cap space is a problem so the Lions may be forced to go in another direction.

Jason Fox, Riley Reiff and Corey Hilliard are all possibilities depending on what plays out in other spots along the line. Then there's always the possibility of drafting one of the premier tackles or Barrett Jones and letting them start out their careers on the right side of the line. I think the Lions get something done with Cherilus though and keep their blossoming talent in Detroit.

Possibilities: Gosder Cherilus, Riley Reiff, Jason Fox, Corey Hilliard, Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Barrett Jones
Most Likely: Gosder Cherilus

My January prediction for the Lions 2013 offensive line:

Reiff / Sims / Raiola / Fox / Cherilus

Monday, January 21, 2013

Potential Draft Targets for the Detroit Lions (Pre-Combine)

Bjoern Werner DE, Florida State, 6'4" 255

Werner is at the top of several big boards and rightfully so. He is an absolute beast and would be exactly the right person to take over Kyle Vanden Bosch's spot on the roster.

Damontre Moore DE, Texas A&M, 6'4" 250

Moore is a very productive pass rusher, but needs to put on some size to play in the NFL. A strong candidate for the Lions' first round pick, Moore may not be a big contributor right of out the gate, but would be a very strong long term pick.

Ezekiel Ansah DE, BYU, 6'6" 270

Ansah has some work to do, but his ceiling is extremely high. A strong combine would put him into top-10 territory. There are some concerns about Ansah because he is so raw which could possibly push his draft stock down, in which case the Lions would be wise to snagging them with their 2nd round pick even if it means trading up.

 Tavon Austin WR, West Virginia, 5'9" 176

A speedster Harvin/Cobb type that could give the Lions back what they have been missing without Best. Austin's size will definitely be a concern, but he was a major play-maker in college.

Xavier Rhodes CB, Florida State, 6'2" 215

Rhodes is a solid prospect who can cover well, plays in man or zone, and is very physical at the line of scrimmage. He likely won't make it out of the first round, but he would be a solid addition to the Lions defensive backfield (possibly their number one corner).

Travis Frederick C, Wisconsin, 6'4" 338

Frederick isn't a lock to be a starter in the NFL and probably projects  more as a guard, but he offers versatility which is something that the Lions value and he certainly has the size to be an NFL lineman.

Joseph Fauria TE, UCLA, 6'7" 258 

Fauria needs to improve as a blocker, but his size is something the Lions could easily utilize. He was very productive as a receiver for the Bruins.

Margus Hunt DE, SMU, 6'8" 280

Hunt has to work on his technique, but his size and athleticism give him a high ceiling. If the Lions aren't able to retain Cliff Avril they could snag Hunt and plug him in.

Larry Warford OG, Kentucky, 6'3" 340

Warford seems to be flying under the radar right now, but that could change after the Senior Bowl (which the Lions' staff is coaching). He has the look of a long term starter and would be a steal should he fall to the second round.

Khaseem Greene OLB/S, Rutgers, 6'1" 230

Greene is a little undersized to be a linebacker in the NFL, but he was an extremely productive player at the collegiate level and a team leader. Greene was originally a safety so he could possibly transition back in the NFL.

Chase Thomas OLB, Stanford, 6'4" 245

Thomas is a great all around linebacker. He can rush the passer, stop the run, and has the size to match up with tight ends. With Levy and Durant both under performing and hitting free agency, Thomas is exactly what the Lions need to boost their back seven.

Michael Williams TE, Alabama, 6'6" 270

When Reiff becomes a full-time starer in 2013 the Lions will need a tight end to play in the backfield similar to how they used Reiff in 2012. Williams is a stellar run-blocker and has the size to be a factor in the red zone.