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Detriot Lions Patriots Team Needs

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Detriot Lions Team Needs
By: Patrick McNamara/LansingSportsRage.com

The Detroit Lions enter the 2006 by setting the NFL all-time record for worst record over any 5 year span in NFL history. Yes, worse than the Tampa Bucs expansion era. Since entering the Millen era, the Lions have gone a combined 21-59, an incredible low mark in futility and this season will mark their 5th consecutive year choosing in the top ten of the NFL draft. You'll get conflicting opinion on the drafting abilities of the Lion's franchise, with some experts stating the Lions have drafted very well and others saying they have drafted very poorly. Since 2001, of the 38 selections the Lions have made, only 3 will register as above average NFL talents (S. Rogers, J. Backus and K. Jones) with a hodge-podge of would-haves, could-haves, should-haves, can-bes and never will-bes making up the other 35 picks. Heading into the 2006 draft, the Lions Top Five needs in order are Offensive Tackle, Offensive Guard, Defensive End, Defensive Back, and Quarterback.

It would serve the Lions well to trade down from the tenth pick. Their are more open holes on this team then they have picks (missing 4th round and 7th round picks to past trades) and with the 2006 draft deep in the Lion's areas of key need, drafting down and collecting 2nd and 3rd picks should be the teams highest priority.

Offensive Tackle
This is the deepest draft in memory at offensive tackle. The Lions offensive line couldn't run block, couldn't pass block and while they remained relatively healthy through the season, the fact they were so bad negated that. 2006 features one can't miss prospect in D'Brickashaw Ferguson and six B-options who all could be first round selections in other draft years. Jon Scott, Winston Justice and Eric Justice make up the top half of that group with Marcus McNeil, Ryan O'Callaghan and Daryn Colledge making up the other half. It would serve the Lions well to trade down repeatedly in the first round, collect an additional late first rounder and several 2nd/3rd rounders and then grab one OT from the top group with their first selection and use an mid-2nd round choice on an OT from the 2nd group.

Offensive Guard
Basic principles of football dictate the game is won or loss 3 feet on either side of the line of scrimmage. The Lions have gone out in consecutive years and signed high profile free agent guards (D. Woody and R.DeMulling) and have seen only marginal returns from both. Considering how undersized center D. Raiola is, it would behoove the Lions to move Woody to center (his natural position) and draft a solid replacement. It bears repeating that the 2006 draft is extremely deep with offensive linemen and six guards could hear their name's called in the first 2 rounds. Max Jean-Gilles was the clear cut front runner heading into the combine, but Davin Joseph is now considered by some to be the top OG of the draft. Charles Spencer, Deuce Lutui, Mark Setterstrom and Fred Matua are all projected to be future NFL starters and you would be getting a steal if you were able to nab any of them in the 3rd round.

Defensive End
A glamour position in the game and a top ten nightmare during the draft, Defensive End's have one of the highest bust rankings for players selected in the top half of the first round over the last 20 years. The Lions put unrealistic pressure on their defensive backfield by rarely getting sufficient pressure on the passer. With Pro-Bowl DT Shaun Rogers normally requiring double team attention, a prolific edge rusher is a definite draft day need. The temptation to trade up for Mario Williams will be immense, and staying put at #9 and taking Tamba Hali or Mathias Kiwanuka may appear to be smart plays as well. Look for the Lions to use one of their mid-2nd round acquired picks on Manny Lawson, Parys Haralson or Darryl Tapp. LansingSportsRage.com particularly likes Tapp.

The Lions have tried to upgrade their defensive backfield through free agent signings over the last three years by getting D. Bly, F. Bryant and K. Kennedy. Bryant has been an injury riddled bust (expected to be cut) and Bly and Kennedy have both missed time and been locker room disrupters. With the NFL not getting a CBA extension in place and the cap being set $10M lower then many anticipated, you could see the Lions join many NFL teams cutting bloated price-tagged defensive backs. Michael Huff and Jimmy Williams will both be selected in the Top 10 of the 2006 draft, the question is will it be by the Lions. Both would be great additions to the team. Other guys worth looking at later are Tye Hill, Antonio Cromartie (both CBs) and Darnell Bing, Jason Allen and Ko Simpson (all S). Watch Richard Marshall as a late day one sleeper.

The most controversial position on the team, Joey Harrington has been reviewed and evaluated daily since joining the team as the #3 overall selection in 2001 and is by far the most talked about player on the team. It was a foregone decision at the conclusion of the 2005 season that Harrington would be cut and a new QB brought in for 2006. However, the hiring of Mike Martz to run the Lions offensive and team managements open endorsement of Harrington (they have already named in starter) appear to have extended Harrington's run as Lions QB. This may be a blessing in disguise as the best value in QB is often found in the middle rounds of 4-5-6 where developable QBs can be selected cheap. Tom Brady, Matt Hasselbeck, Marc Bulger, Aaron Brooks and David Garrard are good examples. Guys who will fall into that area this year and whom would be great pick ups for the Lions include Charlie Whitehurst, Brodie Croyle, Drew Olson and Brett Basanez. The guy we like best is Bruce Gradkowski.

Other Thoughts
The Lions might pick up a linebacker who unexpectedly falls into the late 2nd or early 3rd round. Names like Kai Parham and Gerris Wilkinson in the MLB or Bobby Carpenter, Thomas Howard or Spencer Havner in the OLB. Tight End is another spot on the team where the Lions might spend a pick. We kind of like Dominique Byrd as a Day two sleeper. Don't be surprised if the Lions are among the handful of teams who draft a kicker as Jason Hanson appeared to really lose his edge in 05 and at age 36 with $4M due over the next 3 years he might be a cut target.

Discuss the Lions team needs in our Detriot Lions Forum.

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