Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Lions' Drafted for their New Coordinators, Not Need.

The Detroit Lions had obvious needs in their secondary last season, but the 2014 NFL Draft was not just about addressing last season's needs for the Lions, it was about giving their new offensive and defensive coordinators the tools they need to succeed.

New offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi understudied under Sean Payton in New Orleans, where Jimmy Graham became a star and an integral part of their offense as an athletic hybrid TE/WR.

While most draft pundits were surprised when the Lions picked TE Eric Ebron at #10 even after the Lions had re-signed Brandon Pettigrew to a 4-year deal, it didn't take a genius to see that pick coming.

GM Martin Mahew was just trying to give Lombardi the mismatches he needed at the TE position to run his offense.

Pettigrew was too slow to fill that role, as was Joseph Fauria, who is better suited as a red zone threat than as an every down TE.

My only concern with Ebron is that many NFL teams have blown many of high round picks on TE's trying to find the next Graham, Gonzalez, Gates, Gronk, gtc.

Likewise, when many experts expected the Lions to take a CB in the 2nd Round like Stanley Jean-Baptiste of Nebraska, it simply wasn't going to happen.

New defensive coordinator in Teryl Austin certainly could have used an upgrade at CB, but he NEEDED an OLB who could rush the passer to run his defense to run his hybrid 3-4/4-3 defensive scheme.

And no matter how bad the Lions were at CB, Austin was not about to introduce those essential 3-4 packages featuring Ashley Palmer or Darryl Tapp at OLB.
Enter 2nd Round draft pick Kyle Van Noy, a pass rushing demon from BYU, who can both rush the passer and drop back into coverage.

Sure, a Mormon like Kyle Van Noy might have problems adjusting to life in Detroit to the extent that the moment his bike gets stolen he's likely to run back to Utah to be with his moms, but he fits the bill of the hybrid OLB/DE that Austin needs and was used to in Baltimore.

And don't be shocked when the Lions have fully transitioned to a 3-4 defense after another year or two.

Sure Detroit would need another edge rusher, which is why they'll only be playing more 4-3/3/4 hybrid fronts in the near future, but the transition has already begun.

Assuming that their current roster is retained, Ndamukong Suh would play 3-4 DE (think Haloti Ngata), Nick Fairley would play NT, and Ziggy Ansah could play the weakside end (think J.J. Watt rushing the passer and batting down passes with his long wingspan).

Van Noy would be one OLB, Tulloch and Levy would be the ILB's, and the other OLB would likely need to be a 1st or 2nd Round pick next year.

Of course, if the Lions lose both Suh and Fairley next year to free agency, no defensive front is going to work, but at least Kyle Van Noy's fiance, Marissa Powell, will still look good no matter how stupid she is.

Cornerback? That's still a need.

4th Round Pick Nevin Lawson is a developmental nickel back, not an starter outside to help fill in if Chris Houston is still injured, or simply done once the season starts.

But at least the Lions are in a position to hit the ground running under new coordinators Joe Lombardi and Teryl Austin, and that should at least have everyone excited about what they can bring to the table.

That is, until we think about our needs in the secondary.

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