Restacking My Board

After last night’s first round, it’s time to restack my board for the Lions.  I was not able to get enough research done on the linebackers to put together a board that I have any confidence in, so I’ll just look at the best available and play it by ear.

The Lions number one need is cornerback, followed by safety, defensive end and linebacker. 

Cornerbacks on the board:

  1. Dominique Franks, Oklahoma – Has all the physical tools to succeed, but mentally he lacks focus and it led to miscommunication with his fellow defensive backs.  He is not a natural tackler and wasn’t asked to come up and play the run often.  Is it because of the style of defense, or was it covering a weakness?
  2. Brandon Ghee, Wake Forrest – Ghee has a lot of athletic ability, good size and is very physical in coverage and in tackling.  Inconsistent ball skills and needs some technique work, but he has the ability.  Seemed content to play it safe and play for the tackle rather than make plays on the ball.  Again, is that what he was coached to do, or was he lacking the confidence to take risks?
  3. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Indiana (PA.) – Very raw prospect with unbelievable physical skills.  He has top 10 talent, but needs technique work and doesn’t have a lot of experience playing against sophisticated passing attacks.  He can contribute as an elite return man while he learns his craft in the secondary.
  4. Chris Cook, Virginia – Cook has the size and ball skills to contribute, but he lacks instincts and he is a little less athletic than you’d hope for.  He is smooth in transition, but doesn’t break on the ball particularly well.  If he is in position he makes plays on the ball and he has good speed.  At 6-2 212 he could be a potential prospect at safety as well.
  5. Jerome Murphy, South Florida – More of a zone defender than man due to poor technique and average athleticism.  Big, tough and physical with good ball skills and willing tackler.   
  6. Javier Arenas, Alabama – Arenas has elite quickness and polished technique, but he lacks speed and is only 5-9.  If he were two inches taller or .2 seconds faster he would be a great prospect, but short corners with below average speed tend to struggle.  He can contribute as a nickel or dime corner and on special teams, but may never become a starter.
  7. Perrish Cox, Oklahoma St – 1st round talent with major character concerns.  Smooth athlete with size, speed, ball skills and he tackles well.  He has three kids, broke curfew before a bowl game and has been arrested for driving with a suspended license.
  8. Amari Spievey, Iowa – More of a zone defender because he lacks athleticism and speed.  Tall and physical, but he doesn’t have good ball skills and slightly below average instincts.


  1. Nate Allen, USF – I’m a little higher on Allen than most because I think he is more of a total package than some of the other safeties.  He needs technique work in his backpedal and he needs to get a better understanding of angles, but he is an instinctive and tough player.
  2. Taylor Mays, USC – Off the charts athletic but it doesn’t translate to production on the field.  He doesn’t have great ball skills, he tends to be over aggressive and has tight hips that limit his lateral quickness.  However, these are some of the same criticisms that Troy Polamalu faced on his path to the draft.  Mays needs technique work and time to develop into a more rounded football player.  I have a theory that because of his amazing athleticism, he didn’t get a lot of coaching and technique work in college because he was so physically talented.
  3. Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech – Was a playmaker in college and he has the size and speed for the position.  He is a tough player that looks fluid in coverage and makes plays on the football.  He does need to get stronger and either trust his instincts more or spend more time in the film room as he looks hesitant from time to time in coverage.  He will benefit from improved technique in coverage and tackling.
  4. Reshad Jones, Georgia – Ballhawking, physical safety with good athleticism and aggression.  He needs to learn to break down and tackle rather than approach tackling like a demolition derby.  Will struggle in coverage until he improves technique and angles.
  5. Major Wright, Florida – Well rounded in coverage but isn’t very physical.  He had an excellent 2008 season but regressed some in 2009.  He can play centerfield and has good ball skills, but he will hesitate before breaking on the football at times. 
  6. Darrell Stuckey, Kansas – Lacks preferred height at the safety position and can struggle in man to man coverage.  He is instinctive in zone coverage and he is an above average tackler.  He will contribute on special teams and he also has experience blitzing.
  7. Larry Asante, Nebraska –  Asante is physical and aggressive in run defense and displays good closing speed.  He is not a natural defender in coverage yet since he has limited experience at safety.  Asante offers upside and a solid physical presence.
  8. TJ Ward, Oregon – Ward is a solid all around safety that doesn’t excel in any one area but doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses.  He is aggressive and has sound tackling technique.  He will contribute on special teams as well.
  9. Chad Jones, LSU – Great size and athleticism but he is a bit of a project.  Jones has the physical skills to play at a high level but needs work in technique and has to get a better understanding of his role in coverage.  He is a better zone defender than man.
  10. Kam Chancellor, Virginia Tech – Huge physical specimen at 6-3.5 and 230 lbs.  He is an intimidating presence in the middle of the field.  His height and length give him an edge in coverage against tight ends and tall receivers.  He is not a great cover man at this stage in his career but he does have an intriguing skill set that could allow him to develop into an adaquate safety.  He may be a potential candidate to move to linebacker.

Defensive End

  1. Everson Griffen, USC – Griffen has all the physical attributes to be a top 15 pick, but effort and consistency have been issues for him.  He had a good offseason so far and has impressed at the combine and his pro day showing a great work ethic to prepare for those events.  However, is it because he wants a pay day or because he realizes he needs to give max effort to succeed?
  2. Carlos Dunlap, Florida – Dunlap is in almost the same situation as Griffen except he also has some character concerns.  He ’s a better athlete and more explosive than Griffen, and he has dominated in the best conference in college football.
  3. Corey Wootton, Northwestern – Great size and length allows Wootton to dominate coming off the edge.  Has the quickness and explosion to be an excellent pass rusher, while also possessing the strength and leverage to hold up against the run.  Was considered an elite prospect until a serious knee injury in 2008.  Wasn’t the same player in 2009, and there are some concerns that he may not be the same player as before the injury. 
  4. Austen Lane, Murray St – Small school end proved that he belonged at the Senior Bowl.  He displayed better technique than expected and has really impressed scouts during the draft process.  He needs to add lower body strength to hold up against the run, but he has great upper body strength and uses it well.  He will take some time to get accustomed to the jump in competition, but he has the ability to be a contributor in the NFL.
  5. Jason Worilds, Virginia Tech – A smaller pass rusher in the mold of a Cliff Avril.  He is a high hustle player with excellent agility and quickness, but he needs to add strength to be an every down player or move to OLB in a 3-4.  I think he could be a good situational rusher for the Lions and give them the flexibility to play some 3-4.
  6. Greg Hardy, Mississippi – Another player that has all the tools, but never harnessed them.  He has struggled with injuries and inconsistency in his career.  He is not known for his work ethic or drive, but he has elite talent.  If the Lions feel they can push the right buttons with him, he could be a steal.
  7. Brandon Lang, Troy – Lang is the latest in line of defensive ends from Troy following Osi Umenyiora and DeMarcus Ware.  He is a natural pass rusher and very instinctive, but doesn’t have the lower leg strength to hold up once the tackle locks onto him.  He has intriguing potential and good athleticism and was very productive in college.
  8. Alex Carrington, Arkansas St – Has the size and strength to hold up in the running game and was a productive pass rusher in college.  He will need to develop better technique to be a pass rusher threat in the NFL though.  He doesn’t have elite quickness or acceleration, but he could really develop into a solid player.
  9. Jermaine Cunningham, Florida – OLB/DE tweener that played end in college.  Has good burst and athleticism, but he’ll need to bulk up to be a full time end in the NFL.  He’s more likely destined to be an OLB in the 3-4, but there is just something I like about him.
  10. CJ Wilson, East Carolina – Good size and athleticism, needs to improve on functional strength and shedding blocks.  He is a high effort player with the ability to contribute on special teams while he learns the pro game.
  11. George Johnson, Rutgers – Explosive and athletic prospect needs to add bulk and work on technique.  He uses his hands well at times and had good production in a college scheme that had him taking up space rather than attacking.


  1. AJ Edds, Iowa – Athletic linebacker with good tackling skills, but he struggles in coverage.  Got NFl caliber coaching and played in a scheme similar to the Lions’ in college.
  2. Roddrick Muckelroy, Texas – Moved to middle linebacker in 2009 and didn’t play as well as he did on the weakside.  He is athletic and he is a playmaker.
  3. Jason Beauchamp, UNLV – Good instincts and strong run defender with limited ability in coverage.  He has good size and can move laterally without getting caught up in traffic.

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