Lions Acknowledge Need at RB, Is McCoy the Most Efficacious Pick at #2?

February 1, 2010 on 11:58 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

Obviously, there are a lot of things that can happen between now and April’s NFL draft, but as times presses on, it seemingly becomes increasingly clear that the St. Louis Rams will select DT Ndamukong Suh, the consensus best available player, leaving the Lions to make the subsequent decision to select DT Gerald McCoy.

Not so fast, upon reading this brief entry on Pro Football Talk, I think that the pick at #2 deserves the Lions giving full thought to other options:

Lions have big decision at Number Two
Posted by Evan Silva on January 31, 2010 4:22 PM ET
It’s all but a foregone conclusion that the Rams will draft Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh with the No. 1 overall pick. Suh is the best and most qualified player in the draft, so he is the obvious top selection.

Who goes No. 2 is less certain.

Lions G.M. Martin Mayhew appears to be debating over Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung and Oklahoma University defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. McCoy is the popular pick in mock drafts, but was significantly less productive than Suh. And Okung surrendered just one sack all season. He allowed a mere two quarterback hurries as a senior.

McCoy’s loss of Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2009 (McCoy won in 2008) to Suh shouldn’t severely affect his draft stock. It’s clear that Suh is the best player coming from the national ranks. The real issue for Mayhew is whether McCoy is No. 2.

McCoy did have 15.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 12 Qb hurries, 2 passes broken up and 1 forced fumble. He was incredibly productive. There is absolutely no denying that, but look at this :

Lions QB Sacks Allowed Last Five Seasons
2005 31
2006 63
2007 54
2008 52
2009 43

total=243 sacks allowed in 5 seasons

At 6'6" and 305 lbs, Okung Commands Mayhew's Attention!

At 6′ 6″ and 305 lbs., Okung Commands
Mayhew’s Attention!

The Lions have missed their opportunity for several franchise left tackle’s during recent drafts, names like Joe Thomas, Ryan Clady, and Michael Oher all make Lions fans wince in agony. The Lions have heavily invested in their potential franchise Qb, is drafting Okung, assuming he produces a quality combine performance, the next logical step? 243 SACKS!!!

Admittedly, a large chunk of those Qb sacks occurred during Mike Martz’s tenure as offensive coordinator, who ill-advisedly designed an offense that left Lions Qb’s particularly vulnerable. Yet, the standard blueprint in the NFL front offices is to place a higher value upon acquiring a franchise left tackle than adding a defensive tackle as a high draft pick.

I have no problem with the Lions going against precedent, if McCoy distinguishes himself significantly at the draft combine. The fact is the Lions need to add help in the trenches and secondary, so any non-skilled player additions, with talent, who become productive, are highly welcome.

The Lions have heavily invested in their offensive line recently, with limited positive results (am I being too kind?). The addition of Okung, would likely mean jockeying Jeff Backus or Gosder Cherilus around to accomodate Okung’s addition. Moving the disappointing Cherilus to one of the guard spots, and Backus to right tackle, seems cogent to me.

Martin Mayhew has made it clear that he believes that the Lions running back situation is unsettled, given the severity of Kevin Smith’s injury, and the lack of production that was provided by that playing group during the 2009 season:

• On the running back position: “I anticipate adding somebody to that position, but the question will be what their role is going to be. Is it going to be a guy you bring in and say, ‘This guy is going to be our starter?’ Or is it going to be a guy you bring in to supplement what you already have?”

Without Denying Blount's Many Troubles, This is a Touching Photo

Without Denying Blount's Many Troubles, This is a Touching Photo

There are numerous reports that the Lions were infatuated with the performance of 6’2, 240 lb Oregon RB LeGarrette Blount, whose career ended inauspiciously with his now infamous punch out of a Boise State opposing player, and subsequent conflagrant meltdown on national television, and would be a controversial draft pick, to say the least.

Blount’s statements at the Senior Bowl:

The Lions said they relished coaching the North in the Senior Bowl because they got an inside look at some prospects for the NFL draft. It should help them assess them as people, not just players. One member of their team was particularly intriguing for that reason: Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount. General manager Martin Mayhew has said he anticipates adding a running back this off-season. The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Blount brings a powerful package. But it comes with baggage. Asked what he was telling NFL teams about the incident, Blount said: “It was a mistake on my behalf. I shouldn’t have lost my head, my emotions. I was out of control. The expectations for myself and my team was high, and we did not play to the expectations that we wanted to. We didn’t perform like we wanted to. It was just a bad night altogether.” What did he learn? “I’ve just learned that I’ve got to keep my composure, watch my temper,” Blount said. “You’re going to have bad games. You’re going to have bad days. The way I handled that situation was the wrong way.” – Nicholas J. Cotsonika, The Detroit Free Press

Blount has been compared to Raiders running back Michael Bush, but he could become a Jerome Bettis-like force in the NFL. I would much prefer that the Lions devote a mid- to late-round draft pick to a high value, high risk player like Blount, than have them select a smaller, scatback type of option like Dexter McCluster or Jahvid Best, each of whom could slide to the second round, if they don’t provide a blazing 40-yard dash time at the combine.

The addition of a punishing, between-the-tackles runner, would place opposing safeties in a very difficult postion, given the presence of Calvin Johnson, and an anticipated (and hoped for) healty return of TE Brandon Pettigrew. If a punishing runner moves the safeties up closer to the line of scrimmage, the Lions vertical passing game could become absolutely electric. (see above, drafting Okung!)

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