Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Monday, May 01, 2006

On second thought...

Yesterday, I was ready to write an "Oh my God, what the #@$% is Millen doing? He's doing this to spite us for all the 'Fire Millen' stuff! He hates us and wants to run the Lions into the ground and spread mulch all over the franchise and its fanbase! This is the WORST DRAFT EVER!" post, but I took a deep breath, decided against it, and walked to Dairy Queen.

Like Beyond Boxscores, I wasn't too keen on the Ernie Sims pick at #9. Why? Five concussions, and the kid isn't even 22 years old yet. Of course, I'm no doctor but I watch a lot of medical shows on TV, like ER, Scrubs, and Grey's Anatomy, and... well, I can't remember any episodes dealing with patients who had concussions. But isn't this something we've always been led to believe is serious, something that makes players retire? Merril Hoge? Steve Young? Troy Aikman?

And those players weren't linebackers, who I would argue get hit on virtually every single play. Their job is to run into people and hit them hard. That sounds like a position prone to concussions - especially if you've suffered them before. In an interview with Dan Miller, Matt Millen said Sims' concussions "were only minor." Is there such a thing? Well, apparently so. But once someone has suffered a concussion, isn't he or she is more prone to getting another one? All answers point to "yes."

Obviously, the various medical staffs involved cleared Sims to play. But to me, it seems like a risk with your #9 pick. Millen says if he hadn't taken Sims, other teams would've taken him right afterward. And maybe that (or him saying that Sims was rated higher than Michael Huff on their draft board) isn't spin.

It's easy to say the Lions should've traded down - and I think it's pretty clear they should've - but we don't know which teams were calling Millen and what was offered. I'm not saying the Lions should've taken a quarterback, either. They needed a first-round pick who could make an immediate impact. (Though I can't help but think Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler will go onto stardom, while the Lions will be looking for another signal caller in three to four years.) But Millen's had a history of taking chances on players with checkered medical histories. Some of those gambles have worked out (Shaun Rogers) and some haven't (Boss Bailey - as of yet).

Please read more of “On second thought...”…

But the pick I really hated was Brian Calhoun. I knew he was a talented runner, based on what he did to Michigan last season (155 yards rushing, 59 receiving). But even then, I never thought his size would allow him to be a full-time running back in the NFL. 5'9" and 201 lbs. says "third-down back" to me. It's been pointed out to me, however, that Calhoun's size measures up well against current NFL running backs. And I'm sure he'll be able to add bulk once he starts training with the Lions.

There's also been some talk that the Lions envision Calhoun as a slot receiver and kick returner. (And Tom Kowalski says the pick is a message to Artose Pinner and Eddie Drummond.) That kind of versatility could make him a valuable role player on the roster, especially in a Mike Martz offense. But is that what you want out of your third-round pick? Are my expectations for that round too high? Or is that exactly where you'd expect and hope to find a back-up running back? At his size, can he really challenge Kevin Jones as the starter?

I realize the Lions probably wanted an offensive lineman in the third round, only to see the guys on their board gone. So they likely had to take the best player available, whether he filled an immediate need or not. Sometimes, that's how the draft works, even if it doesn't look as proactive as we'd all prefer. And if that really is how it shook down, I think Millen bailed himself out on the second day of the draft with Jonathan Scott and Fred Matua falling into his lap. If both of those players managed to be starters, that's great value (and probably wishful thinking) for the picks. (Here's what Lionbacker thinks of Scott and Matua.)

So after sleeping on it, I don't feel quite so bad about the Lions' 2006 draft as I (or the Detroit Lions Weblog) did initially. Besides, I was excited as hell about the last two drafts, and how did those turn out? Just because I'm not familiar with some of these players or they aren't ones I was hoping for doesn't necessarily mean the Lions did a poor job. It looks like Millen gave his coaches what they wanted, which is how a GM-coach relationship should work. The Lions did fill needs (Boy, linebacker became a need awfully fast, didn't it?), and if Sims and Daniel Bullocks become immediate starters (which I assume is the expectation), that's more than they've gotten from three out of the last five drafts.

"Hey, at least they're starting!" You could make a t-shirt from that slogan. Isn't that kind of diminished optimism a fine example of being a Lions fan?


  • At May 02, 2006 12:12 PM, Blogger The Armchair Quarterback said…

    At least you didn't have the Bills draft. Their fans must be going crazy. I hope the Lions picks work out. They deserve some good luck.

  • At May 02, 2006 8:01 PM, Anonymous Evan said…

    The one pick I can't get a read on is this Bullocks guy. Is he going to be any good??? I can't find any meaningful information on him.

    As for Sims, it should be pointed out that he's NEVER MISSED A GAME because of his head injuries. I also imagine that if Cory Schlesinger got scanned every week, we'd find that he's played with about 37 concussions over the course of his career with the Lions.

    I don't 100% trust Matt Millen when it comes to drafting guys that will be great NFL players, but he definitely picks guys that everyone agrees has talent. And for once, it seems that he has good coaching around him to help him direct that instinct a bit.

    Who the hell knows how this turns out? But if Sims is half the player Millen makes him out to be and can play even 12 games, that puts him WAAAAAY ahead of all our linebackers except maybe Earl Holmes. Lehman, Davis, Lewis, and Bailey have played a combined 2 minutes in the past 2 years. Maybe that makes Sims a worse or riskier pick. On the other hand, it might give them the killer, speedy, intense linebacker Millen's been trying to get through 2nd and later round picks until now.

    As for trading down... I heard a rumor on one of the sports talk stations -- which I generally hate listening to, but had to dial to the other day given all that's going on in Detroit sports right now -- that suggested the Jets tried to trade up from their late first round pick to the Lions' pick. The deal they wanted was their late first and their third for the Lions' number nine. Millen, rightly I think, refused, asking for the Jets high 2nd rounder as well as the late first rounder and the third rounder.

    You can trade down -- but people have to be willing to give you something good.

    As for Calhoun... I can't blame them for taking a very talented, very fast guy that probably reminds Martz a bit of Jackson or Faulk in terms of his size and how he tries to make plays in the 3rd friggin round.

    Anyhow, the Patriots built a mini-dynasty out of 4th round no-names and people no one wanted, so I'm not going to worry about our guys until they're on the field.

    They've got Donnie Henderson and Mike Martz designing the systems in which they'll play and a passionate, fiery guy telling them how to go about doing it. More than anything, that'll make the difference this year.

    If the Lions play to HALF their potential for once, they'll be 8-8.

  • At May 04, 2006 7:03 AM, Blogger Ian C. said…

    Evan, there definitely seemed to be more synergy between front office and coaching staff for this year's draft. So even if all the picks weren't eye-popping, they filled needs and gave the coaches what they needed, which is promising.

    And since you mentioned the linebackers, has anyone fallen out of favor as fast as Teddy Lehman seemed to? It's like he's dead to the Lions now.


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