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Fans and Writers Need to Understand How the Lions’ Front Office Works

I normally don’t like sniping at other people’s opinions, but now that we’re in the thick of draft season everybody has an opinion and many are overlooking a simple fact, the Lions are building a team for the long term, not short term gratification.

Tim Twentyman of The Detroit News wrote an article today urging caution when it comes to drafting an offensive tackle in the first round.  I agree with a lot of what he says in the beginning of the article as far as there are no sure things at offensive tackle in this draft.

As I got further in the article I found a few points that I totally disagree with.

  1. “A lot of these tackle prospects are projected as right tackles, anyway.”  There are five tackles that are graded with definite first round grades; Tyron Smith, Anthony Costanzo, Nate Solder, Gabe Carimi and Derek Sherrod.  Of those five only one, Carimi has major question marks on the ability to be a left tackle.  Smith primarily played right tackle in college, but he is the most athletic tackle prospect int he draft and very few scouts doubt his ability to play on the left in the NFL.  If Twentyman means they will project as a right tackle on the Lions, I agree with that statement, but only for one year.  Any tackle the Lions take will eventually take over for Backus no matter where they play this year.
  2. “At 33, Backus has two or three seasons left in him — barring injury” Backus may have two or three seasons, nobody knows for sure, but he’s only signed for 2011.    Backus has always struggled with speed rushers and as he starts to slow down with age, he will only struggle more.  The Lions’ front office is building this team for the long haul, resigning a 34 year left tackle rather than drafting a young replacement doesn’t match that goal.
  3. “So, if the Lions want to win now, they need to recruit help in the back seven of their defense.”  I have said it before and I will say it again, the Lions don’t build their team to win now, they are building their team to compete year in and year out like the Steelers, Eagles, Packers and Patriots.  They will not make a knee jerk pick for a short term solution, especially if it means they bypass solving a long term need.

Now, do I know what the Lions are going to do?  No.  Does Tim Twentyman?  If he does he chose a terrible name for his article.  The decision makers for the Lions don’t really know what they are going to do because there are so many variables with 12 teams picking ahead of them.

Twentyman is totally right about the fact that there isn’t a prospect without question marks at offensive tackle, however that can be said for just about every prospect in the first round.  It is a weird year in the NFL and the draft is no exception.  Last year there were slam dunks like Sam Bradford, Suh and Eric Berry, this year there’s really only Von Miller and Patrick Peterson and even those two some question marks.

I’m not going to pretend to know who the Lions are going to draft, but I do know what they are going to look for in their pick.  They are not looking for a quick fix or instant gratification, they are looking for a player that makes them a better team for the next five years, not just for 2011.  There is a chance that a player could do both, like Suh and that’s all any Lions’ fan can hope for. 

Everybody just needs to remember that there have been two drafts conducted by this front office and in both the Lions passed up better short term prospects to draft long term guys.  Stafford over Curry, Pettigrew over the various linebackers and Jason Fox over a cornerback or linebacker.  I just don’t expect the Lions to deviate from that strategy no matter how messed up this year is.  I know it’s been a long time since the Lions have been competitive and people are eager to see a playoff push as soon as posible, but if making a playoff push in 2011 means lessening the odds of competing for the playoffs for the next five years it’s not going to happen.

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2 Responses to “Fans and Writers Need to Understand How the Lions’ Front Office Works”

  1. NorthLeft12 says:

    You shot your credibility completely when you said that the Lions passed up the better short term prospect by choosing Curry over Stafford.
    Mayhew just established that he was a sane human being when he made that pick. Curry is a Linebacker. Choosing a Linebacker at # 1 would have established Martin as the all time dumbell in the history of the NFL, beating out his former boss Matt.
    And again Pettigrew over the Linebackers at # 20? The same ones who were available when the Lions picked again at # 33? And were passed again by the Lions in favour of a Safety?
    And a potential project Left Tackle over Linebackers? Really?

    Linebackers are relatively easy to find in Free Agency or the third round. It just does not make any sense to draft them in the first or second round unless they are outstanding talents. Ray Lewis was chosen at the end of round one, and everyone knew he was going to be a very, very good MLB.

  2. Please explain how my credibility is shot over that statement. Fans chanted “We want Curry” and “Don’t draft Stafford” at the rally to reveal the new uniforms a week before the draft.

    Fans wanted a linebacker because quarterbacks historically don’t drastically improve a team in their rookie years. Yes it would have been idiotic to take a linebacker first overall, but the Lions probably would have won more games with Curry in 2009. Stafford had a couple meltdown games where he blew leads and threw 3+ interceptions.

    Your comment just validates what I am saying, it’s better to take the prospect that has more long term value than short term value. A lot of people want the Lions to reach for a LB or CB at 13 when they could add a pass rusher or left tackle which are by far more valuable positions.

    Mayhew’s actions validated his decisions as well as you stated. Fans wanted Maulauga or Lauranitis at 20 yet they were both still there at 33 and ended up lasting until the middle of the second round. Both of them had great rookie years but Pettigrew is the much better long term value especially since he set team records in his second season and both those linebackers had sophmore slumps.

    I think you’re misunderstanding what I’m getting at. I am not saying Mayhew should have done anything different than what he did do. I am saying that he has a track record of taking players that fit long term or offer positional value, yet many people want him to reach for lesser positional value or reach for a short term fix. He won’t do either of those and that’s what I’m trying to convey.

    Thanks for the comment.

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