FanPost

The Fantasy Life

Disclaimer:  This post is not for the faint of heart.  I put it in the fanpost section because it is VERY long and detailed, so if your not into those types of reads, don't read it.  Please... no complaints due to length.  I'm not twisting anyone's arm to delve into my little world here :)

As big-time football fans, we all love to give our opinions on what we think the Lions should do regarding personnel.  This comes from our secret desire of running a real NFL team and being in control of the franchise we all love.  So in true Drewslions fashion, I'm going to take this fantasy to the extreme.  After all... it's my fantasy, right?  So, I'm going to hand myself the keys to the Lions for three full months... February through April.  Enough time to encompass free agency and the draft and shape the entire 2009 roster in MY mold.  How egotistical! :)

I realize in doing this I expose myself a little (not literally, of course), but I think I can weather the criticism.  Because this post will get a little lengthy (understatement), I'll break it down into three sections.  First, I'll explain my moves with the current team, i.e. releasing and resigning players.  Second, I'll tackle free agency as it currently exists.  Lastly, I'll dive into the draft and even try my hand at the dreaded mock.  Remember, these are moves that I would make and some may contradict moves the Lions have already made.  Please don't take this too seriously and it's all hypothetical, good-natured fun! 

Act I:  The Current Roster

Pretty pathetic squad, eh?  Where to start?  Well, how about where I always start... the quarterback (I know... I'm obsessed). 

Quarterbacks

Okay, so we currently have Kitna, Culpepper, Stanton and Henson under contract and Orlovsky's an unrestricted free agent.  Guess what?  Dan-O stays a free agent.  He just didn't show me enough.  Stanton is under contract and stays.  I'll resign Henson as a project.  I only need one veteran quarterback and what I really want out of this guy is leadership, one decent year and a teacher for Stanton.  Cost also comes into play, so I choose Kitna.  So now, if I can't find anything in free agency or the draft, I still have enough to get me to next year.

Backs and Receivers

This is an exceptionally bad group aside from the obvious.  Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith are the foundations of the offense.  Everything, scheme and personnel, will be built around them.  Aside from that... sheesh, there's just very little talent.  I would release Furrey (the Lions got that right).  I would resign Shaun McDonald to a modest 2-yr deal to be our number three slot guy.  I would also keep Adam Jennings as a number four or five guy.  Every other receiver is gone (yes, even Standeford). 

As for backs, I'd let Rudi Johnson walk.  He's unhappy and his role would be diminished even further on my team.  I'd keep Cason and cut Calhoun.  With the fullbacks, I'd resign Norris and cut Bradley & Darian Barnes, but would look for Felton to win the starting role. 

With the tight ends, I'll first let Fitzsimmons and Owens walk.  This will force me to keep Gaines and also force me to find another tight end in the draft or in free agency.

This leaves me needing a solid, young number two running back; number two and four wideouts; and two tight ends - a potential starter and a good blocker/depth guy.

Offensive Line

Well, let's start with the obvious... there's nothing we can do about Backus.  I'm just not willing to take the cap hit at this time and he's an average player.  I need to focus on the areas where we have no players or extreme deficiencies, not where we are at least average.  So, Backus and Cherilus are safe.  I'll bring back Cook on a one-year deal for depth, but cut Foster. 

At guard, I too, would cut Mulitalo along with Coston.  Manny Ramirez is under contract and provides depth.  I would resign Peterman as well, but not to the 5yr, $15MM deal he got by the real Lions.  It would be more like a 2yr, $4MM deal and I'm not sure that I pencil him in as a starter.  I'd try to replace that RG spot and keep him as depth.

At center, Raiola is still my guy and I resign McCollum to a 1yr deal as he provides depth at guard as well.

So at the end of the day, I'm still left looking for at least two guards - both potentially starters.

Defensive Line

First off... I have to decide on whether to play a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme.  While I'd love to move to a 3-4, I have to say that talent-wise, we are better suited to stay with a 4-3.  That said, I won't be looking for Tampa 2 players.  I'll model the '08 Titans defense.

To be honest, I think that I feel pretty good about Avril and White as my starters at the defensive end position.  It gives me some flexibility in the draft.  Alama-Francis and DeVries are both under contract and I see no reason to cut either unless I can upgrade at some point.  Corey Smith is scheduled to be a free agent.  Although I like him, I just don't see the reasoning behind adding another role player to my roster.

I obviously have a talent deficiency at the defensive tackle position.  I would like to get two new starters if possible.  But let's start with who I'd keep.  Redding has value and releasing him would not be cap-friendly.  So he stays along with Fluellen and Cohen who have unrealized potential and provide depth.  However, I believe both to be slightly undersized and not counting on either to start.  I would cut both Moore and Darby, although I am a little hesitant about Moore.  I just think his ability is limited, so I'd rather see one of the young guys get his snaps.  As for Shaun Cody... I can't slam the door quickly enough.  He's gone. 

So I'm left looking for several tackles - both starters and depth.  I'll look to pick up another end if the right opportunity presents itself.

Linebackers

Linebacker is another very anemic position on the team.  Sims is gold and one of my starters on the outside.  I don't see any other starters on this roster.  For depth, I'll resign Lenon to a 2yr deal if he'll resign as a back-up.  Dizon and Alex Lewis will stay on for depth and special teams as well.  Cannon and Bing are gone and I'll also let Nece go into free agency.

Unfortunately, I have the task of finding a starting middle and outside linebacker in free agency or the draft.  Not the most ideal situation, but I'm determined not to have Lenon start.

Defensive Backs

At corner, I'd have to release Bodden.  I have mixed emotions about this, because I think he could have succeeded in a different system.  The price is just too steep here.  I'm very nervous about the cornerback position.  I'm not sure that I have either starters or a nickel back.  I'll let Stanley Wilson walk.  He's just not worth another contract.  I'll keep Fisher, Keith Smith and Ramzee Robinson out of fear that I cannot bring in three new corners that are upgrades.  I'll try though.  Hicks, Roberson and Wynn will get cut.  I might bring them back for camp.

At safety, I too, will cut Dwight Smith.  I'll keep Alexander, Bullocks, Pearson and Schwiegert for now.  If I have to go into the season with this group, I will.  I won't be happy about it, but I have other pressing needs.  Bullocks is solid and Alexander will have to step up if I can't upgrade.

Overall, I'm just really concerned about my lack of corners.  I could really use at least three new impact players and both starters. 

Special Teams

Hanson and Harris are safe.  Two great players.  I will extend Hanson 3yrs, which should allow him to end his career here.  If I can't, he'll get the franchise tag.  Muhlbach is a very good long snapper, so no need to look elsewhere.  My obvious task is to find a few good special teamers and a solid returner.  I've pretty much got my mind made up that I'll be looking in the later rounds of the draft for my returner.

Act II:  Free Agency

By now I think you realize that this post is a marathon, not a sprint.  Hopefully, some of you are still reading by this point.  As you can see, I've got a bunch of holes, but also a bunch of cap money.  I've made up my mind that I'll be smart in free agency and not spend too much.  Target maybe one or two starters and get some solid depth.  We are just too young a team to go all Dan Snyder in free agency.  It would simply be a waste of money, because by the time the young guys are playing well, the free agents will have run their course and be looking for the next contract.  So I'll try to be a little conservative.

I'll say for the sake of this fantasy, that I get the guys I target.  For the sake of realism, I'll target guys that I think I can get.  How's that for logic?

So free agency begins.  I target one guy immediately and make my first signing two days after free agency opens.  I sign former Texan CB Dunta Robinson and sign him to a 4yr, $18MM deal.  Immediately, he is one of my starters.

Next, I target a defensive tackle that has some limited upside along with starting experience.  I sign recently released Broncos DT Dewayne Robertson to a 3yr, $12MM deal and plug him in a tentative starter as well. 

My sights shift to offense and later into the third week of free agency, I sign three players.  First, I bring in two guys that my coach has endorsed and is very familiar with:  former Titans TE Bo Scaife and WR Brandon Jones.  I'm looking for both to sign modest 2-3yr deals and contribute significantly in their first year as Lions.  Scaife will probably start and be on the field on most passing downs.  Jones should be capable of starting opposite of Johnson and I feel okay with this if nothing better comes along.  I also spend a little more than I want to snag veteran G Mike Goff.  He signs a 3yr, $10MM contract, but he's a good player and worth the money for depth alone.  He's going to bridge the gap as either depth or starter over Peterson.  I still have my mind set on finding another guard in the draft.  If I don't, I'll start Goff at LG and Peterson at RG.

Just prior to the draft, I make one more signing.  I wasn't looking for this player, but it just made too much sense to pass up.  I sign RB Derrick Ward to a 2yr, $8MM deal.  He's a great change of pace back and a potential kick/punt returner.  Kevin Smith will know he's the guy, but in this league, you need at least two good backs.

Okay, so these are the six guys I end up getting to come to Detroit.  I am pleased with my haul, but I wish I could have nailed a decent linebacker.  I'll probably end up having to sign a lesser veteran after the draft.

Act III:  The Draft

If you guys think that I'm going to mock seven full rounds, even I don't have that kind of time and surely don't have the know-how.  But I did mock the first 33 picks.  These are the guys that I should be able to plug in as starters on day one.  As for the later round projections, I'll pick more based on position need versus player.  I'll give you a name, though.

Before I get to my picks, let me state the following:  I will not be trying to guess what trades will happen.  Teams will pick where they are slated.  Also, these picks are my picks and are based on my limited knowledge of the top 33 players and some major guesswork for the later round picks.  This is pre-combine and free agency, so this is purely for fun.  Remember, this is still a fantasy.

Here is my mock draft:

Drewslions' 2009 Mock Draft

Pick

Team

Pos

Player

Comments

1

Detroit

QB

Matthew Stafford

See comments below

2

St.Louis

T

Andre Smith

Ends up being the highest rated tackle of a strong class.

3

Kansas City

QB

Mark Sanchez

I think in the end  that Sanchez will be rated nearly as high as Stafford and KC won't pass him up.

4

Seattle

WR

Michael Crabtree

Perfect pick - has both talent and is a need.

5

Cleveland

LB

Aaron Curry

Safest guy in the draft won't fall past number five.

6

Cincinnati

DE

Everette Brown

Strong riser will have a good combine and Cincy needs defensive help big-time.

7

Oakland

T

Jason Smith

They need some major help up front to block for McFadden and Russell - Al Davis will take a risk on Smith over Oher or Monroe.

8

Jacksonville

CB

Malcom Jenkins

Too much talent for Jags to pass up.

9

Green Bay

LB

Rey Maualuga

I didn't think he'd go this high, but with the Packer's switch to the 3-4, they need another inside guy to go with Barnett.

10

San Francisco

DT

B.J. Raji

This is a tough one.  It's a little high for Raji, but San Fran doesn't have that big run stuffer.  He'll help them.

11

Buffalo

DE

Michael Johnson

With Schobel hurt last year, they need some insurance.

12

Denver

DE

Brian Orakpo

Broncos could go through a player purge on defense, this guy could help them start over.

13

Washington

T

Michael Oher

This is an easy one.  Did you watch Heyer play at RT last year?  It was hard to watch.

14

New Orleans

CB

Vontae Davis

Another stab at the Saints annual attempt to upgrade their secondary.

15

Houston

LB

Brian Cushing

This dude will build his case at the combine and it's a huge need for the Texans.

16

San Diego

WR

Jeremy Maclin

This is a stab in the dark, but the Chargers just can't seem to find the right guys at receiver.

17

N.Y. Jets

S

William Moore

It's not who they wanted, but it's a need.  Jets could trade up... especially if Sanchez falls past pick ten.

18

Chicago

WR

Percy Harvin

They've got no one at wideout.  Harvin's the best available.

19

Tampa Bay

T

Eugene Monroe

Bucs are astounded Monroe fell this far.  If Gruden was still there the pick would have been Freeman or Heyward-Bey.

20

Detroit

LB

James Laurinaitis

See comments below

21

Philadelphia

RB

Chris "Beanie" Wells

Reid will start thinking about life after Westbrook.

22

Minnesota

TE

Brandon Pettigrew

They have other needs, but can't pass on this pick.  They could look at Freeman here as well.

23

New England

G

Duke Robinson

There were some concerns with the offensive line play for the first time in years.  Big Bill won't let that happen again.

24

Atlanta

DT

Peria Jerry

Last year, they upgraded the offense.  This year, it's defense.

25

Miami

CB

Alphonso Smith

The secondary was their Achilles' heal last year.

26

Baltimore

LB

Brandon Spikes

They will lose either Scott or Lewis or possibly both.

27

Indianapolis

DT

Sen'Derrick Marks

This might be a reach, but they need help on that line.

28

Philadelphia

WR

Darrius Heyward-Bey

They'll finally try to give McNabb someone to throw to.

29

N.Y. Giants

LB

Clint Sintim

Kind of a best player on the board type of thing - could play DE if needed

30

Tennessee

DE

Tyson Jackson

The very near future replacement for Jevon Kearse.

31

Arizona

RB

Knowshon Moreno

He's slid far enough.  Maybe Arizona will actually try to run the ball.  The Edge will be far away from Phoenix this year.

32

Pittsburgh

C

Alex Mack

Can play both center and guard and the Steelers may have to let some lineman go in free agency in the near future

33

Detroit

DT

D.J. Moore

See comments below

Lion's Picks:

Round 1, Pick 1:

QB  Matthew Stafford - I'm sure none of you guys are surprised by this from me.  Bottom line is that we need a quarterback and I don't see anywhere else where need meets value as well as with Stafford.  My hope for him is that he beats out Kitna for the starting job.  I will help him by pretty much handing him the keys to the franchise.  After all, that's why I drafted him... to play, not to warm the bench.  I will also cut Henson after this pick.

Round 1, Pick 20:

LB  James Laurinitis - I was really hoping that this wasn't the scenario that would happen.  I'm not sure that he's a star.  It's also such a cliché pick.  It's on everyone's board.  I would have rather had Raji, Vontae Davis or Cushing.  But we have such a need at linebacker and the pick does make a lot of sense.  It's also the way the board fell, so you can't second guess what you do.  The two other players that I mulled over were Duke Robinson and Peria Jerry.  I think I can get a guard in the third round and if I had not gotten Robertson in free agency, I'd probably have taken Jerry.

Round 2, Pick 33:

CB  D.J. Moore - I feel good about this pick.  He's good player with solid value at a need position.  If only they were all this easy.  Moore will step in as the number two corner immediately - ready or not.

Round 3, Pick 65:

DT  Ron Brace - A big, strong run-stuffer that seems to fit my coach's mold and scheme.  Ultimately, I need a plan to replace Redding when his contract is a little more palatable.  He'll provide depth right now.

Round 3, Pick 82:

G Kraig Urbik - Well, I needed a guard in the draft and this could be a surprise starter for us.  I'll pencil him in to fight with Peterman for a starting role on the right side.

Round 5:  TE  Cornelius Ingram, Florida - A nice number three tight end behind Scaife and Gaines that will be groomed to be the eventual starter.  Has good hands.

Round 6:  WR  Brooks Foster, North Carolina - Good combination of size (6-3, 205) and speed (4.4).  Want him to push for the number four spot this year and eventually start next to Calvin.

Round 6:  LB  Anthony Haygood, Purdue - A tad undersized, but should be a good special teamer if nothing else.  Hard to find solid talent this far back.

Closing Act:  The 2009 Detroit Lions

Well, I'm pretty happy with my off-season.  I feel like I upgraded the roster as well as I could.  This isn't 10 win team, but I should be able to be more competitive, especially on defense.  If you made it this far in this post... I applaud you!  So, without further delay... my post-draft depth chart for the 2009 Detroit Lions:

Offense

QB:     Matthew Stafford       Jon Kitna                                 Drew Stanton

RB:      Kevin Smith                Derrick Ward                          Aveion Cason

FB:      Jerome Felton              Moran Norris

WR:     Calvin Johnson            Shaun MacDonald                  Adam Jennings

WR:     Brandon Jones                        Brooks Foster

TE:      Bo Scaife                    Michael Gaines                       Cornelius Ingram

LT:      Jeff Backus                 Damion Cook

LG:      Mike Goff                   Manny Ramirez

C:        Dominic Raiola           Andy McCollum

RG:     Stephen Peterman       Kraig Urbik

RT:      Gosder Cherilus         

Defense

LDE:   Dewayne White          Jared DeVries

NT:      Dewayne Robertson   Andre Fluellen                        Landon Cohen

UT:      Corey Redding           Ron Brace

RDE:   Cliff Avril                   Akaika Alama-Francis

SLB:    Jordon Dizon              Alex Lewis

MLB:  James Laurinaitis         Paris Lenon

WLB:  Ernie Sims                   Anthony Heygood

CB:      Dunta Robinson          Travis Fisher                            Ramzee Robinson      

CB:      D.J. Moore                  Keith Smith

FS:       Gerald Alexander       Kalvin Pearson

SS:       Daniel Bullocks           Stuart Schwiegert

Special Teams:

K:        Jason Hanson

P:         Nick Harris

LS:      Don Muhlbach

A couple things before I finish here.  First, there are still a few back-up positions to be filled in free agency.  I'll let those be, because I only had the keys to the franchise through the draft.  Also, you can see that I have Stafford starting over Kitna.  I am of the belief that you play your top picks right away... quarterback or not.  If he flounders badly, Kitna can take over at some point.  But let him take his lumps. 

So I hope this was a fun and interesting read for you.  I've been working on it for a few days now and it was a blast to create.  Comments and critiques are always welcome!

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pride Of Detroit or its writers.

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