Thursday, March 01, 2007

Draft Day Just Got More Interesting

Dre' Bly got his wish. He's out of the Honolulu Blue and Silver. Detroit's Pro Bowl cornerback will now apply his craft for the Denver Broncos. In return for shipping the disgruntled Bly to the Rocky Mountains, the Lions received RB Tatum Bell, OL George Foster and a fifth round draft pick. Which, in all honesty, is about two players greater than what I thought Bly would command in the trade market.

Now, I have concerns about Bell. He might be a product of that Denver running scheme which might make me a 1,000 yard rusher. And, if I recall correctly, Bell has a fumbling issue. Not exactly what you want from a guy you hand the rock to. As for Foster, I know only two things. 1) The standard information about his background that all of you have read today. 2) He's got to be better than the offensive linemen the Lions employed a season ago. Then again, had the Lions acquired a 300 lb. block of swiss cheese, I might be tempted to say the same thing. The fifth rounder, that's just a bonus.

While this trade appears to fill two voids on the Lions roster, the truly interesting part of this deal is how it may alter the Lions draft strategy. (Insert joke about using the terms Lions and draft strategy here.) Before the deal, it seemed like Detroit was destined to take OT Joe Thomas. Now, having obtained a tackle via Denver, drafting Thomas seems less likely. Bell's arrival diminishes the chances of the Lions contemplating the selection of Adrian Peterson. Who does that leave?

Well, boys and girls, that's the fun part. The Lions would appear to be more likely to select a quarterback, LSU's JeMarcus Russell, or wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Yes, another wideout. This deal just made the improbable become possible. Only the Lions.

There are rumors about that the Lions may ship out the freshly acquired Bell and Foster to purchase more draft choices. That would seem kind of odd as both players fill pressing voids that the Lions would need to address in the draft anyway. However, we are talking about the Lions here so everything is in play.

The scenario that makes the most sense is keeping both ex-Broncos and drafting the fill other spots. That's where drafting a quarterback, a year after signing both Josh McCown and Jon Kitna to big deals and only a few weeks after claiming they didn't need a quarterback, comes into light. I'm not sure the Lions have the courage to use their top pick in the draft to select a QB only to have him hold the clipboard for a season. When you need lots of immediate help, it's going to be difficult to select a player for the future with your top draft choice. Which brings us to Mr. Johnson.

The Georgia Tech standout not only had a fine college career, but just dazzled scouts at the cattle call that is the NFL Combine. If he wasn't before, Johnson is now at the top of many team's draft boards. His size, speed and overall skills have nearly all the football geeks in an uproar. He's simply the best player in the draft. Only one problem, though. Matt Millen hasn't had much success in taking wide receivers high in the draft. And, oh, has he had experience with that.

This is where Millen's shoddy draft record really comes back to bite him and the organization. If he had chosen anyone other than Charles Rogers, Roy Williams or Mike Williams in any of those drafts, we wouldn't have an ounce of controversy surrounding the possibility of landing Johnson in the draft. But, instead, three first round wideouts later -- one unemployed, another soon to be -- the Lions might be faced with having to take yet another pass catcher with their top pick. You have to love this team. They can't even take the best player in the draft because they've screwed up so many past drafts.

There is even one more plot I haven't discussed. Regardless of whomever the Raiders select with the top choice, the Lions opt against Thomas (we have OT's), Johnson (not going the WR route, again), Russell (can't afford to draft a player to sit) and Peterson (we have our RB's, thank you). They go completely off the top four playmakers and pick someone I'm not discussing. Oh, what fun talk radio will be the Monday after that.

I have no idea if today's trade makes the Lions a better football team in 2007, but I do know that it has opened some doors I thought were closed -- drafting either a QB or WR -- and, thus, makes their draft even a bit more compelling than it already was.

1 comment:

Ian C. said...

Bell might be getting a bit of a bad rap when it comes to fumbling. Not to say that he doesn't have a problem that warrants concern. But Kevin Jones had just as many fumbles, and with fewer carries/touches.

Regarding the draft, if the Lions can't trade down, I think they should still draft Joe Thomas, as he's the best player at a position where they probably have the greatest need. From most accounts, Foster isn't good enough to justify looking elsewhere with that #2 pick.