Draft Grades – 2010

2010 Draft Grades: Lions

The Lions landed the best player in the draft and the player that best fits their needs in Ndamukong Suh. Together with Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams, Suh will help give the Lions an impressive, new revamped defensive line.

I like the Lions willingness to move up to get the guy they wanted, but I just don’t think Jahvid Best is worth a 1st-round pick. He’s a very nice weapon to have, but he isn’t a player to build around. The fact that Best is vastly undersized and is coming off a serious injury raises significant concerns about his ability to carry the load in the NFL. If he’s only a Darren Sproles-type change-of-pace back then he isn’t worth a 1st-round pick.

They reached for Amari Spievey but he’s a perfect fit for their defense. They needed depth at cornerback and Spievey will be able to help immediately.

I really like the selection of Jason Fox. He’ll be a backup at both tackle positions, and will be groomed to potentially take over a starting job in a few years.

Willie Young was a steal in the 7th round. However, he may struggle to make the roster in Detroit. Their defensive line is now one of the strong suits of the team and they’re very deep at defensive end.

Mr. Irrellevant, Tim Toone, will have to fight to make the roster at receiver. His best chance will be to stand out on special teams.

Overall, this was a solid but unspectacular draft for the Lions. I would have liked to see them land a weak-side linebacker to replace Ernie Sims. Someone like Darryl Washington would have been a perfect fit in the late 1st round instead of Jahvid Best. Ultimately I can’t criticize the draft too much though. They landed the best player in the entire draft class. The Lions are definitely headed in the right direction.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2010, Lions 2 Comments

5 popular mock draft predictions unlikely to happen

Every year draftniks fall in love with certain predictions which, on paper, make sense. But creating a mock draft isn’t always about matching up the team’s needs with the best available player at that position. You have to understand each team’s draft tendencies and try to think like their GM (or whoever it may be that’s calling the shots).

With that in mind, I’ve set out to discredit a few common mock draft predictions which likely won’t hold true on April 22.

5. Jermaine Gresham to the Bengals
The Bengals have, hands down, the worst pass-catching tight ends in the league. So in theory, adding Gresham would make a lot of sense. However, Marvin Lewis and Bob Bratkowski just don’t seem to care. They have never incorporated the tight end into the offense and I don’t see any reason why they’ll change now. Selecting Gresham would require the Bengals to abandon an offensive philosophy which has worked fairly well in recent years.

4. Russell Okung to the Lions
Adding a young offensive tackle in the 2nd or 3rd round would be a wise decision for the Lions, but its unlikely to happen with the 2nd pick. Jim Schwartz has praised Jeff Backus, and even endorsed him as a Pro Bowl candidate this past season. With all the needs the Lions have on both sides of the ball, why would Martin Mayhew and Schwartz upgrade a position that they already view as a strength?

3. Joe Haden to the Browns
Haden is the top available player at a position at which the Browns are devoid of talent. However, a rebuilding process does not start with a cornerback. The trades of Corey Williams and Kamerion Wimbley have opened up gaping holes in the Browns front seven, which is always a higher priority on draft day than the secondary. Eric Berry, due to his elite draft grade, may still be an option, but not Haden.

2. Dez Bryant to the Dolphins
Signing Karlos Dansby left the Dolphins with just one glaring area of need: receiver. Or more specifically, a big receiver. Dez Bryant is exactly what the Dophins want, but there is no way that Bill Parcells ok’s the selection of a receiver in the 1st round. He hasn’t selected one since Terry Glenn in 1996, and that selection was actually made by Robert Kraft and was a key reason why Parcells bolted after the season. Throw in Bryant’s off-field concerns and he has little chance of wearing a Dolphins uniform in 2010.

1. Bruce Campbell to the Raiders
Al Davis has made plenty of bad decisions, but this would top them all. The thought process behind this selection is that the Raiders need a left tackle and Campbell put on a performance at the Combine that is sure to catch the attention of Davis. That said, there are enough other players with legitimate 1st-round grades that Davis can probably be talked into. Jason Pierre-Paul, Taylor Mays, Trent Williams and Anthony Davis are all much closer to receiving top-10 grades and would still fit the Al Davis profile.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Bengals, Browns, Dolphins, Lions, Raiders 1 Comment

Could the Browns trade up for Sam Bradford?

Now that Seneca Wallace is on board, Mike Holmgren has decided its time to part ways with his incumbent quarterbacks. Derek Anderson was released yesterday and now Brady Quinn is aggressively being shopped around the league.

Trading Quinn seems like an odd decision. Holmgren is clearly comfortably with Seneca Wallace, but he’s apparently the only one. The Browns only gave up a 2011 7th-round pick to land him, which is a shockingly low price tag for a guy who appears to be entering 2010 as a starting quarterback.

The move begs the question: what the hell does Mike Holmgren have planned?

Surely he can’t envision Seneca Wallace as his starting quarterback for the foreseeable future. Wallace has been an adequate backup to Matt Hasselbeck for a number of years, but in years past no one has even gone sniffing around Seattle to inquire about trading for Wallace to fill a starting role elsewhere.

Could this mean Holmgren has more moves planned?

2010 NFL Combine - Day Two

Could Bradford land in Cleveland?

There has been speculation this offseason that the Browns may show interest in Jimmy Clausen or Sam Bradford in the draft. However, it appears unlikely the either will fall to them with the 7th pick. The Rams, Redskins and Seahawks all have shown an interest in landing a new franchise quarterback and own picks ahead of the Browns.

The only way to land a quarterback in the 1st round may be to trade up. The best case scenario for the Browns would be for the Rams to select Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy. That would leave the 2nd and 3rd picks (owned by the Lions and Bucs, respectively) as potential slots to trade into as neither team is in the market for a quarterback.

The Browns currently own 11 picks in this year’s draft and could offer an intriguing package to either the Lions or Bucs who are both in a full-fledged rebuilding mode and could use the extra selections.

Another option would be to package some picks and defensive tackle Shaun Rogers who has been rumored to be on the trading block. Both the Lions and Bucs are expected to target defensive tackles Suh and McCoy in the 1st round. Thus, the option of landing a proven Pro Bowl tackle plus plus some extra picks would seem like an intriguing offer for either team.

Should the Browns pull off one of these trades and land Bradford or Clausen, then the trade for Wallace would start to make sense. Wallace, who has started a handful of games in his career, could keep the seat warm as the Browns groom their new franchise quarterback.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Browns, Buccaneers, Lions 26 Comments

10 Best Offseason Moves (So Far)

10. Giants sign Antrel Rolle
Yes, the Giants overpaid for Rolle. The thought of him being the highest-paid safety in the league is comical. But the fact remains that he’s a significant upgrade over Michael Johnson and will give the Giants a very solid duo at safety between him and fellow Hurricane Kenny Phillips. The Giants are taking a “win now” approach and you have to give them credit for addressing a need with the best player on the market.

9. Falcons sign Dunta Robinson
The Falcons may have overpaid for a player who’s effort comes as goes throughout the season, but there’s no denying that Robinson has the talent to be an elite cornerback. Robinson will give you headaches, but ultimately when it matters most he’ll step up his game. He was playing at an elite level down the stretch this past season as Houston climbed back into the wild card race and he’ll do the same in Atlanta as they figure to be in the playoff hunt once again.

8. Patriots re-sign Vince Wilfork
Its not a sexy pick to have a player re-signing on this list, I know, but this is one of the most important moves nonetheless. Wilfork is the anchor of the Patriots defense. They’re in a mini rebuilding mode on that side of the ball this offseason and losing Wilfork would have set them back even further.

7. Chiefs sign Thomas Jones
If the Chiefs were expected to be a contender in 2010 this move would have ranked even higher. Jones isn’t capable of carrying the load throughout the season, but he can still be effective in spurts. Jones and Jamaal Charles give the Chiefs an impressive duo at running back which should allow them to control the ball and help open things up in the passing game for Matt Cassel.

6. Broncos sign Jamal Williams, Justin Bannan, Jarvis Green
None of these three players alone would have made the list, but collectively they’ve reshaped the Broncos defense. Williams will likely start at nose tackle with Green starting at one of the defensive end spots. Bannan can play nose tackle or end and may rotate between the two.

5. Cardinals trade for Kerry Rhodes
Rhodes fell out of favor with Rex Ryan in New York, but he is still a top-flight safety in this league. He’s just 27 and has plenty of good years ahead of him. Antrel Rolle was a fine starting free safety, but Rhodes is an upgrade and he comes at a cheaper price tag. It was a great trade any way you look at it from the Cardinals point of view.

4. Lions sign Kyle Vanden Bosch; trade for Corey Williams
Last offseason Jim Schwartz pledged to make the Lions bigger and stronger on defense. That’s proven to be easier said than done as the previous regime believed “smaller and faster” was the way to go. They struggled through the 2009 season, but Vanden Bosch and Williams gives their line two proven defenders who will likely team up with Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy.

3. Bears sign Julius Peppers
Peppers was the biggest name to change teams but I can’t put him at number one because I don’t know that he’s a significant upgrade in Chicago. The Bears had other needs (mainly receiver) which they could have spent the money on, but they do deserve credit for landing the biggest name on the market.

2. Dolphins sign Karlos Dansby
Dansby has quietly been one of the most productive linebackers in the league during his time in Arizona, despite not being surrounded by much talent. In Miami he could develop into a star. He’s an ideal fit for their defensive scheme which is similar to Arizona’s. He’ll be a difference maker from day one for the Dolphins.

1. Ravens trade for Anquan Boldin
The Ravens have needed to make a move like this for years. Boldin is an elite possession receiver and will instantly become Joe Flacco’s favorite weapon. If he can stay healthy, a 100-catch season isn’t an unreachable goal for 2010. The acquisition of Boldin makes the Ravens the team to beat in the AFC North for 2010.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Broncos, Cardinals, Chiefs, Cowboys, Dolphins, Falcons, Free Agency, Giants, Lions, Patriots 16 Comments

Offseason moves shouldn’t change Lions draft plans

The Lions have been one of the more active teams so far this offseason, and are starting to look like they may be one of the most improved teams for 2010.

The signing of Kyle Vanden Bosch and the trade for Corey Williams have given their defensive line a significant upgrade already, and its called into question whether they will still target Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy with the 2nd pick.

Numerous mock drafts have started popping up with Russell Okung in the No. 2 slot, but I think its premature to assume that Jim Schwartz is content with his defensive line. Williams is certainly a quality starting defensive tackle. But is he really the type of player that makes you pass on the consensus top two available prospects in the draft?

Detroit Lions Minicamp

Hill stretches before a practice during his rookie year

Perhaps this is the better question, since Williams already has one starting spot locked up: is Sammie Lee Hill the type of player that makes you pass on the consensus top two available prospects in the draft?

Hill, a 2009 4th-round pick, started all but one game in which he played last season. He’s an intriguing player due to his massive size (6’4, 329) but he wasn’t exactly productive as rookie. ProFootballFocus rated him 83rd out of 87 qualifying defensive tackles in ’09. To be fair, he was a rookie from Stillman College trying to compete in the NFL, but the fact remains that he has a long way to go.

The other issue with them selecting Okung is the fact that there may not be room for him in the starting lineup from day one. Schwartz has been extremely supportive of Jeff Backus (perhaps too supportive) and even endorsed him as a Pro Bowl candidate in 2009. At right tackle, 2008 1st-round pick Gosder Cherilus is starting to look like a bust but it would be prudent to give him a third year in a starting role before throwing in the towel.

To accommodate Okung the Lions would need to move either Backus or Cherilus (more likely Cherilus) to guard. In theory it actually sounds like a smart move, but you have to factor in how much money would then be invested in a mediocre offensive line featuring three former 1st-round selections. A rebuilding team like the Lions would be wise not to invest too much money in any one unit.

While the Lions are sure to explore the option of selecting Okung, ultimately I can’t envision them passing on Suh or McCoy. Jim Schwartz had pledged to build a bigger, stronger, more physical defense in the Detroit – a complete 180 from the previous regime’s defensive philosophy – and a change like that doesn’t happen with just one or two moves. Plugging in a player like Suh or McCoy would instantly give the Lions a defensive front seven that could compete within the NFC North.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Free Agency, Lions 1 Comment