Detroit Lions Position Analysis 2011 -
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Detroit Lions Position Analysis 2011

Although the record has not been a telling sign of the improvement, my opinion is that they are very close to becoming a very solid team. The defensive line and the defense have been greatly helped by rookie Ndamakung Suh, who will likely win the defensive rookie of the year and was selected to the pro bowl. With a few free- agents and a top corner draft pick, this team could be playoff caliber and one of the most exciting teams in the league.

QB: Mathew Stafford’s injury has been hard for the fans because many hoped he would be able to take the next step as a quarterback this year.  His injury has only brought up a lot of questions about whether he can last an entire NFL season and probably cost Detroit a couple of wins.  Stafford has the potential to shine in the NFL. He is in his own category with his arm strength and ability to fit a pass into a small window. Stafford just needs to stay on the field and he should get everyone’s hopes up again. Detroit is set at QB with Shaun Hill being a very adequate backup and Drew Stanton likely returning as the 3rd stringer.

RB: Jahvid Best was drafted in last year’s first round draft and has shown a lot of reasons why he was taken so early in the year. Best looked like one of the most dynamic running backs in the entire league and a threat to take it to the house every time he touched the ball. However, the concern with Best out of college was his injury history and especially he ugly concussion playing at California.  This year his injury has been a case of turf toe which has slowed him down and caused the lions to go to Kevin Smith for a part of the year and now Maurice Morris as the primary runner. Smith likely won’t be returning to Detroit next season even though he shown some flash early on, but has struggled to stay on the field. Look for the Lions to pick up a veteran backup through free agency or drafting one in the late rounds.

WR: Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson are a solid pair on the outside. Johnson has stated his frustrations for not being able to win in Detroit but I think that was a temporary anger that is in part to Drew Stanton and Hill tossing his way. Burleson has been everything that the Lions hoped he would be, which is another option outside of Johnson. I like these pair of wideouts for the next season and beyond because of their downfield abilities. Stephon Logan is a quick scat back type wide out and is a nice 4th or 5th option, but for a 3rd wideout who is a possession type wideout to be picked up through free agency or a late draft pick. Options:  Terrence Toliver, LSU, Greg Little, UNC Free agents-Early Doucet, ARI, James Jones, GB

TE: The Lions have two solid tight ends with Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Schefler. Brandon Pettigrew has been a good third down option and spreads the defense fairly well. Schefler is similar to Pettigrew and catches the ball and is a downfield threat. Detroit might make a deal for a third tight end but it wont be anything serious.

OLine- The offensive line has been a lot better this year than previous seasons. Rob Sims was a good pickup from Seattle for almost nothing. Sims has been a solid guard and likely keeps his position for next season. Outside of Sims, the offensive Lions have a lot of question marks. Gosder Cherilous has had a lot of problems as a tackle, but has been a lot better this season. He has had a lot of growth in becoming a good offensive lineman, but I would expect Detroit to look for bodies that can challenge Gosder. Similarly, Jeff Backus who seems like he has played in Detroit forever, will likely have his position up for grabs. Backus is one of the highest paid offensive lineman in the league and could be replaced by a draft pick or high free agent. I would like the Lions to focus on upgrading the offensive line by drafting a lineman in one of the first three rounds. Mike Pouncey at Florida, would be a great pickup because he would be able to fill in several positions. Free agent options include Jared Gaither, BAl, Marcus Mcneil, SD, but would be very costly and maybe out of Detroit’s price range.

Dline- The defensive line is the strength of this team with Cliff Avril- Suh- Corey Williams-Kyle Vanden Bosch. Although Vanden Bosch is getting in his upper 30s, this group for the most part is young and talented. Certainly a DE is an option in the draft like Clemson’s Dequan Bowers, but he would have to be drafted in the first round and I don’t think would be the best move for this team. My hope is that the Lions resign Cliff Avril for a deal that is friendly to the Lions and then sign a decent bench player like Miami’s Matt Roth or Jacob Ford of Tennessee.

LB: There really is only one linebacker that will certainly be a starter next year and that is Deandre Levy. Levy will control the middle linebacker position and seems to be a fluid and quick backer that gets sideline to sideline easily. Outside of Levy, there are two positions that will need to be focused on through the draft and free agency. Julian Peterson and his hefty contract are likely in the last season in Detroit and likely won’t be resigned unless it is a good one or two year contract. If Detroit could manage to steal Kansas City’s Derrick Johnson through free agency, I would be all for that move. Johnson is young and would fit great in this defensive scheme and allow the other linebacker position to be filled through the draft. An option would be Casey Mathews of Texas A&M or Greg Jones of MSU as the third linebacker. Also Zach Follet could step up and steal the job if the Lions decide to resign him.

CB: The cornerbacks have actually been decent this year. Alphonso Smith has had his horrible games, but is a good 2nd or 3rd CB. Chris Houston was a great trade last offseason and would be the perfect 2nd cornerback. Detroit really needs to draft a young shutdown cornerback like Patrick Peterson of LSU or Prince Amakumara from Nebraska. Either of these players would be potential pro bowlers and allow Houston and Smith to not be stuck on other team’s top wideouts. I think the CB position with Peterson or Amukamura in the fold, but without either of these guys it could be a painful to bear.

S: Louis Delmas is going to be a star in the NFL He is a ballhawk and great player to have in the backside of the defense. Opposite of Delmas, Amari Speivey has been the starter, as of late, and has shown flashes. If Spievey can continue to develop through the offseason that would be great and allow Detroit to have the safety position locked up.

Mock Draft

  1. CB Prince Amukamara, Neb
  2. OL Mike Pouncey, FLA
  3. LB Greg Jones, MSU
  4. WR Terrence Toliver, LSU

Free Agencts:
DE Matt Roth, Miami
OLB Derrick Johnson, Kansas City
OC Ryan Kalil, Carolina
DT Gabe Watson, Arizona
RB Michael Bush, Oak
QB Troy Smith

Projected Lineup 2011

QB: Stafford, Hill, Troy Smith
RB: Best, Bush, Morris
WR: Johnson, Burelson, Tolliver, Johnson
TE: Pettigrew, Scheffler
LT: Backus, Fox
LG: Sims, Pouncey
OC: Kalil, Pouncey
RG: Peterman
RT: Cherilous

DE: Avril, Jackson
DT: Suh, Lee-Hill
DT: Williams, Watson
DE: Vanen Boesch, Roth
OLB: Johnson, Follet
MLB: Levy, Jones
OLB: Pete, Johnson
CB: Houston, Berry
CB: Amukamara, Smith
S: Delmas,
S: Spievey,

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