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Detroit Lions 2012 Pre-Draft Analysis

April 26, 2012

Football

This article was originally written by Eric Ratkowski:

For years upon years, Detroit Lion draft picks were essentially set in stone. When you continuously draft in the top 5, you can feel pretty safe blatantly advertising your pick.

Matt Millen was the reason for a majority of our top picks and proceeded to blow most due, in large part, to not listening to his scouting department.

Now that a competent GM is in, fans around Detroit have through the roof expectations.

Suh, Stafford and King Megatron are the cornerstones for a franchise that appears headed in the right direction.

Titus Young, Deandre Levy, Louis Delmas, and Cliff Avril are growing into productive players and if Nick Fairley and Mikel Leshoure stop hanging out with Snoop Dogg, that is two more players to add to a solid young core.

For the first time in a long time, things are looking up for the Lions.

However, this is far from being a team without needs.

Jeff Backus and Dominic Raiola are nearing the end of their careers while Stephen Peterman and Gosder Cherilus are blatantly awful. Gosder has passed former Lion Derrick Williams on the hate scale and is now nearing Robert Lang territory. That is not a place a Detroit athlete wants to be. The offensive line is going to need to be addressed. Expect multiple picks on offensive linemen.

Yeah, you sit there and think about what you did

The entire defensive backfield is essentially a need for the Lions. Eric Wright signed easily the dumbest deal of the off-season with Tampa Bay. To quote waterfootball.com, the grade given was “Millen on LSD Laced Kielbasa”.  Even before he was gone, the depth at corner was slim. Chris Houston is serviceable but is not a true shutdown corner.  Alphonso Smith and Aaron Berry are decent nickel/backup corners, just not starting material.

The safeties aren’t great either. Louis Delmas is a productive player but goes for the big hit instead of the sure tackle too often. It doesn’t help that he has an injury-plagued couple of seasons. Amari Spievey got Robert Meachem paid last year in the playoff game with the Saints. He is not awful, an upgrade could be sought, but not the most pressing of needs right now.

Kevin Smith was the starting running back for the Lions for a majority of last season. If you let that fully sink in, you probably just shuddered uncontrollably. Once recovering from your seizure, realize there is possible hope. Mikel Leshoure was supposed to be the bell-cow back for the Lions last season and tore up training camp until tearing his ACL. Back to a Smith induced seizure, the Lions did resign Smith and nobody is certain how healthy Leshoure (or concussion happy Javhid Best) will be when training camp opens. A mid-round flier on an insurance policy may not be the worst idea. The worst idea is Kevin Smith starting on Thanksgiving. Sorry, just love to disgust everyone.

An area people seem to forget about is the defensive end position. Both Cliff Avril and Kyle Vandenbosch could be gone at the end of next season. Unless the Lions believe that Willie Young or Lawrence Jackson is the answer, there is a possibility they could go defensive end early.

I am done with finals so I decided to list my future predictions for all of the Lion’s draft picks and possible alternatives.

Don’t hate on me if you think a person will be gone. I am basing my rankings on what ESPN and Walterfootball presented since I really don’t have the time or energy to rank out 300+ players.

First Round Options

My Love It Move – Trade back and take Janoris Jenkins CB Florida/North Alabama.

If at all possible trade back into the early second round. In my world, the players of the next 20 picks are of the same caliber. If you can find a trading partner in the first half of the second round (example: Chiefs moving up to take Weeden), you can stockpile picks (probably a future 1st) and still get your corner in the falling Jenkins. He said he has turned his life around. He gave up weed and is dealing with his 5 different kids. I say draft him and just pray he does not become this.

My Love It If We Stand Pat Pick – Cordy Glen G/OT.

If he falls to the Lions, there is no doubt in my mind they have to take him.  Our offensive line is a decent bunch of pass blockers but could serve to be upgraded. Glen can replace Peterman at RG or the human false start Gosder Cherilus at RT.

My Like it Pick – Stephon Gilmore CB South Carolina

Lions need a corner and Gilmore is believed to be the number 2 behind Maurice Claiborne. I have never seen him play since I have no inclination to watch South Carolina football, but scouts believe him to be more about potential than college production. That always scares me.

The Lions are in a position where they can take the best player available within reason. As long as the man can play, I will have no qualms with the pick. Just PLEASE don’t trade up. You aren’t in need of a franchise quarterback nor are you THAT good. I cannot justify it unless Claiborne or Khalil miraculously fall.

Second Round Options

My Love it Pick – LaVonte David LB Nebraska

Mel Kiper’s love child is a bit undersized but has great sideline to sideline speed. He could go late first but would be a great pickup for the Lions in the second round.  Keep in mind that 2 of the Lion’s starting lbs are free agents after this season (Levy and Durant). Sad as it is too say,  there is no backup linebacker now that Bobby Carpenter is with the Patriots. Sorry guys, not ready to lather in the Ashlee Palmer butter.

My Like It Pick – Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

If Brown weren’t a presumed headcase, he would go in the top 15. He has unbelievable talent and produced at UNC, just not sure if the maturity is there. That could be a concern for a team that has a bit of a PR issue currently. Doesn’t smoke weed though, always a plus.

My Want Some More Of It – Josh Robinson, CB/KR, Central Florida

I apologize for not watching any UCF games this year. However, Robinson is rated as a top 5 pure cover corner by many sources and can help in the return game.

Third Round Options

Love It – Tank Carder LB TCU

This may be a bit of a fan boy talking but I love what Tank Carder brings. He is an absolute leader, great awareness, and has good speed. He was the only one on TCU’s defense who actually had an idea how to stop RG3 opening weekend. Again, linebackers are probably leaving at the end of the year. Might not be a bad idea to draft Carder, let him sit a year and learn the position.

So manly

Like It – Philip Blake C Baylor

Dominic Raiola is nearing the end of his career and a successor will need to be groomed.  “The 6-foot-2, 312-pound Blake is a good athlete for his size. He has the strength to push tackles aside and surprising quickness to hit blocks on linebackers. “ – Walterfootball

Want Some More of It – Chris Polk RB Washington

May be a bit too early for a RB but if Polk is still available, I say grab him. Didn’t have the greatest of Senior Bowls but had a productive career behind a horrendous offensive line at Washington.

Fourth Round Options

Love It –  Chase Minnifield, CB/KR, Virginia

I sound like a broken record but the Lions need all the help they can get at corner back. Minnifield was thought of at a second round pick before an injury-plagued season set him back. He has great bloodlines and can help in the kick return game. At this point, he is worth a flyer.

Like It – Robert Turbin RB Utah State

Per Walterfootballl “Turbin (5-10, 222) is a sleeper prospect who has some speed and is extremely strong. He showed that off with good speed and strength at the Combine.”

We need help at running back, might not be a bad idea to take a chance on a small school guy regardless of injury history.

Want Some More of It – Mike Brewster C Ohio State

Another player who was a projected 1st rounder before falling off the face of the earth. He was an All-American center who had his ups and downs throughout his senior season, but Raiola isn’t getting any younger. He might be the perfect person to groom for a year or so.

Fifth Round Options

Love it – Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

Ok, I found Dennard in the 5th, 4th and 6th rounds of the drafts I looked at. Maybe I am blatantly missing something but wasn’t this guy fighting Dre’ Kilpatrick to become the 2nd rated corner about 2 months ago? Didn’t he utterly shut down BJ Cunningham when Nebraska played MSU? If the Lions can pick up someone of his caliber with such a minimal risk, I don’t see why you don’t do it. He may turn out to be Donovan Warren, but at this rate it is worth a shot. At the very worst, he can provide good depth.

Like it – Bruce Irvin OLB/DE West Virginia

Irvin has had one hell of a life.  He may turn into a head case, but the NFL is not exactly full of choir boys. He proved he can be a dominant pass-rusher at West Virginia finishing with 40 tackles with 15 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2011. A boom or bust guy who if  he doesn’t develop properly, you can just cut.

Want Some More of it -Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State

If Javhid Best can’t come completely recover from his concussions, Hillman is a poor man’s version of him.

7th Round Options

Love it –   Vontaze Buflict, ILB, Arizona State 

The ultimate boom or bust prospect. Burflict was a projected top 10 pick before he decided to throw his coaches under the bus, not prepare for his combine and pro day and completely bomb all interviews he had with teams. He could go undrafted very easily.

With that much talent, I wouldn’t let him pass. Scream and yell at him to get his act together and if he doesn’t, cut him.

Burfict TERRIFIED players in 2011. If he can return to that form, he will be an absolute steal.

*this just in, he failed a drug test. What a winner

Love It – Jeff Fuller WR  – Texas A&M

Fuller is a big body who played hurt last season. We was a force in 2011 but injuries severely limited him this year to the point of him being passed on the depth chart. He turned it around later in the season and could become a steal if coached properly.

Want Some More of It – Chris Rainey, RB/KR Florida

The man was trying to qualify for the Olympics and actually played D-1 football. I really don’t need to say more. Again, he may be injury prone but would be a 7th rounder.

 Priority Free Agent Pickups

Kellen Moore – QB Boise State

Man crush. Not even going to pretend otherwise. Was my Heisman favorite until I watched Baylor v. TCU. You can do worse at third-string.

Donte Paige-Moss, DE/OLB, North Carolina

Essentially see Burfict, just not as good.

Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan

Go Broncos!

I do not own any of the images. I do not own any of the videos.

*Note from The Farm Club: You can see more posts from Eric Ratowski at http://detroitjockcity.webs.com/

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