The first day of the 2006 NFL Draft is done and the surprises were plentiful. The day when college football players move on to a new chapter in their lives and when everything changes is something everyone looks forward to. That one Saturday in April when one player or one team's whole outlook on the next season can become different. Where you're either praised or booed for the player you draft. That player can be a franchise-builder, a crowd-pleaser, or a GM-killer. Did your team pick the right guys on day one?
I won't even get into the other teams' choices that were both exciting and surprising since there's so much to talk about with Detroit. Three draft picks from yesterday, and four more today for the Detroit Lions. Let's get right into it with the ninth overall pick in the NFL Draft, and the first for the Lions.
1st Round - 9th Pick Overall: Ernie Sims
Ernie Sims, a linebacker out of Florida State was picked by Detroit for a few main reasons. First, Detroit had to fill the linebacker position, and picking Ernie Sims helps that need. Second, Lions' new coach Rod Marinelli is a defensive-minded guy, and he wants to build a defense that he likes. Third, Matt Millen wanted to shake off the stink of drafting an offensive player seven times in the last six first rounds.
There were many disappointed Lions fans after the pick, myself included. Former Heisman Trophy winner and one of the best players in the draft, Matt Leinart, was still available when the Lions went on the clock, and Detroit neglected that and didn't pick him. I admit, I overreacted when it first happened, but it's not everyday you get a chance to pick a Heisman winner in the ninth slot. I think either way Matt Millen would've been criticized for his selection. In choosing Leinart people would've said that once again he picked an offensive player and a player that we already have depth at. And then when we did pick Sims people have said that we passed up a play-maker and a great player in Matt Leinart for an average linebacker. Basically, it was a lose-lose situation for Millen, but he did what he thought was right, and looking back on it, the pick isn't all that bad.
Ernie Sims will fit-in the Detroit linebacker system greatly, eventually probably replacing Alex Lewis as the starter along with Boss Bailey. Detroit had a need, and filled it by drafting Sims. Although critics were concerned with Sims because of the large amount of concussions he's had in the past, Matt Millen himself said it wouldn't be a problem. Here's what Sims himself had to say on his concussion problems:
At least he's got the right attitude. He should be a great addition to the Lions. Overall, for the pick of Ernie Sims, I'd give it a grade of an A-. They didn't go with the more-popular decision of drafting Matt Leinart, which may not have been the right move, and went with a player that filled a void in the defense. The reason it's not an A is that Detroit could've really gotten a trade out of this and moved down a few spots, while still drafting Sims. But all-in-all, good decision by Detroit.
2nd Round - 40th Pick Overall: Daniel Bullocks
The second round was no different than the first in addressing issues on defense as the Lions selected a safety out of Nebraska, Daniel Bullocks. Originally, the Lions would've wanted safety Michael Huff as their first round pick, but the Oakland Raiders drafted him before the Lions could. So, there's always a plan B. Pickup Ernie Sims in the first round, and then go with a different safety in the second.
The Lions had a very big hole in the defensive backfield, mainly being the safety spot. Daniel Bullocks will be able to come in an immediately be able to press the starters for playing time. Bullocks is a great playmaking-safety, and can do some great things.
Very coincidental or saying it was meant to be is that in last year's draft, Bullocks' twin brother Josh was drafted by the New Orleans Saints fortieth overall. This is what Daniel Bullocks had to say about the draft and his brother:
For this draft pick, I'll give it a grade of a B. Nothing against Bullocks, but I think there were some better players still out there. Bullocks could've dropped down to the Lions next pick, they may not have had to rush into picking him so early. Aside from that however, Bullocks is a good pick because it filled the need of a safety, and now that they got the voids in the defense filled up, the shift of draft picks can go to offense.
3rd Round - 74th Pick Overall: Brian Calhoun
The third and final pick of the day by Detroit was a bit of a surprise to everyone. That pick was Brian Calhoun, a running back out of Wisconsin. Being in Big Ten country, and watching my Michigan Wolverines play against Calhoun and Wisconsin, I especially have heard a lot about him. Calhoun is a great athlete, with the ability to not only run the ball, but also receive and return it.
Did Detroit really need a running back, especially this early in the draft? Not really is the answer to both of those questions. Brian Calhoun may not end up being that much of a running back persay, which is why Detroit selected him. He may have been brought in as a backup running back, but also as a starter on special teams as a cushion to Eddie Drummond.
Eddie Drummond has not impressed offensive coaches when playing as a slot-receiver, and bringing in Brian Calhoun gives you the ability to put a player in there that you know can catch the ball. Drummond also is chronically-injured, which means that Calhoun would provide a solid backup role for the kick returning spot. Last but not least, backup running back Artose Pinner is an unrestricted free agent and isn't enjoying his stay in Motown right now. Sources say that it's likely he'll end up being traded. Once again, Calhoun would provide a solid backup running back spot, and could see playing time in the backup role. For the pick of Brian Calhoun, I'd give Detroit the grade of a B+. You get three potential needs in one pick with one player. The only thing I didn't like about this pick is that Detroit could've addressed other needs that are definite and more important first, rather than going with someone who might be filling backup positions. Calhoun is a solid player and should be a great addition to the team.
After day one of the draft, I give the Lions an overall grade of a B+, the average of the first three picks. It was a day of addressing defensive needs, and the Lions definitely did just that. Filling in holes at linebacker and safety were very important. Now, on day two, the Lions must fill in some holes on the offensive and defensive lines.