...And how our draft picks fit into them.
I have to admit: during the draft yesterday, I was flabbergasted. I saw multiple opportunities for the Lions to improve huge roster holes immensely and they totally whiffed on them. However, after doing some research (including digging through my brain for forgotten information), I have determined that our draft picks by and large, were the right decision.
Pick No. 1 (No. 1 overall): John Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
For the 7th out of the past 9 years, a quarterback is selected #1 overall. Matt Stafford is what scouts and coaches call a "prototypical quarterback"; a QB with great size and build. He can do anything a coach will ask him to do in some measure, including the ability to run with his mobility in the pocket.
In Scott Linehan's system, the quarterback is a guy who can heave the ball deep. The running game is a focal point. By drawing safties into the box and forcing corners to bump in order to provide run support, the QB must have an arm to throw the deep ball (think Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison). The QB must be able to make the big play when the defense is not looking. He must be the undisputed leader of the team; confident and full of moxy. Accuracy should be best with the short passing game, where the quarterback will have to thread the ball on slant and drag routes to keep the defense honest.
As much as I hate to admit it, Stafford was a perfect pick here. Better (as of now) than Sanchez, Freeman, Bradford, McCoy, or any of the other QBs would be for our system. He can do all the things I've mentioned, and potentially more under a former HC and accomplished OC who specializes in QBs.
Pick No. 2 (20th overall) Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
Pettigrew was the undisputed top prospect at tight end in this year's draft. He is a complete package, even if he's a little old school: he excels in the blocking game, using his massive frame to push around linebackers and even defensive ends with ease. Has good hands, although they were underutilized in Oklahoma State's scheme.
Our offensive scheme, as I mentioned before, will be centered on a power running game coupled with a deep threat passing scheme. Pettigrew should fit this mold and be with us for a good long while. His blocking abilities are undoubtedly what he was drafted for. He will be on the field for many plays, as Linehan prefers to use a Strong-I or two tight end set. The tight end is an integral part of his scheme, allowing for an extra blocker in the run game, and a safety valve for the QB on passing downs if his outside threats are covered.
Once again, a perfect fit. A stronger blocker than reciever, although great at both. Pettigrew is going to double as both an extra lineman and reciever every down. He can seal the edge for Kevin Smith to run through, or leak out and run a route to capitalize on Calvin Johnson's ability to draw double coverage.
Pick No. 3 (33rd overall) Louis Delmas, S, Western Michigan
Louis Delmas has been described as many things, most of them involving some sort of weapon. The phrases "torpedo", "heat seeking missile", and "kamikaze" are commonplace in reference to him. He is a stout run defender with good speed and a nose for the ball. A little undersized, Delmas counteracts his physical deficiencies with a tenacity that coaches salivate over. He is somewhat suspect in pass coverage, with concerns about his intelligence coming forward after he scored a 12 on the Wonderlic test. Ultimately, his passion for the game and similarities drawn to Ed Reed brought him to the forefront as the top prospect in his position.
Now we come to the defensive side of the ball. I was HUGELY disappointed by this pick initially, as I believed this was our chance to get the quarterback of our defense in either Rey Maualuga or James Laurinitis. Lucky for me, I was incorrect. We did get our quarterback.
In Gunther Cunningham's defensive system, we will be running a 4-3 defense similar to the Tampa-2 we ran last year. The major difference between the two schemes is the switch to man coverage from primarily zone. Our players will be accountable for their men, and with our front seven being used mostly to attack the quarterback, our defensive backs have to be able to stay with the reciever.
Gunther is an ex-defensive backs coach. In his scheme, he uses a safety as most other schemes use a middle linebacker or inside linebacker. Delmas will be the main playcaller, and the one to recognize changes in the offensive set. With a good vantage point of the field, he will be capable of audibiling the defense in order to prevent the defense from taking advantage of our plays, and also serve as the captain of the defense.
I didn't think so at first, and I am still skeptical, but I think this was a great pick. We got our Mike, guys. He's just not in the position we thought he'd be. I was under the impression that our middle linebacker would be the Urlacher or Ray Lewis of our D. Instead, Delmas will hopefully serve as our Bob Sanders, and since our defensive coordinator is an ex-defensive backs coach, I'd say we better served our team to develop a potential all-pro in our back four. Go figure, a Detroit Lions team with a good secondary?
All told, I'm still confused about the rest of the draft (including these picks) but I can see a method to the madness. Chin up boys, we just took steps to build quite a dynamic team. Think power running, deep ball throwing, run stopping, smashmouth football. I don't know about you, but I'm starting to like it.