Just listened to Schwartz's Monday morning presser on the Lion's website this afternoon and came away with a few interesting impressions....
- Schwartz really seems to like Jeff Backus a lot. He even hinted at the idea that he thought Backus was borderline Pro Bowl material. Does that take Okung out of the equation at the #2 spot? Would he even be in the mix if we really needed a tackle? Who knows... it seems like this site is quite divided on Okung anyway. If anything, I think that Okung would be drafted to immediately replace Cherilus, not Backus. To me, it's highly unlikely that Okung will be taken that high and even less likely that it will be the Lions that draft him.
- Schwartz was adamant about the idea of "doing it right" and building through the draft for the long-term. He talked quite passionately about not trying to put band-aids on anything and not looking at short-term off-season moves. He gave me the impression that they would not be chasing any high-priced free agents. He talked some about the younger guys coming off first contracts being somewhat attractive if you could build around them, but the (pending) new free agency rules will put the kibosh on a lot of those younger options. After listening to him, it won't surprise me at all if the Lions are pretty quiet during free agency. Not sure how I feel about that. For years, we watched Millen waste money by throwing big contracts at subpar free agents and bypass those areas in the draft (left guard, anyone?) If they can have another few drafts like the one in '09... I'm on board.
- Although he didn't discuss the specific draft strategy that much (even though the media pressed him some), my impressions were that they are definitely going into this year with the same strategy as last year... best player for this team regardless of position. But he did talk a lot about getting Calvin and Matt some help. He talked much more about that than he did about creating a great defense. If I had to guess based on Schwartz's comments, they are going to pull the trigger on some offensive players in the first few rounds. I know that this isn't the popular opinion here, but I like that idea. Why not get the max potential out of the two offensive stars you've poured more than $100 million into? Not that you can disregard the defense, but you can't neglect the fact that you've put a lot of eggs into the offensive basket. You need to protect those investments.
- Schwartz seems to like Kevin Smith a lot and he thinks that if he's healthy, he is a great back. But that was the big IF. I came away with the impression that he felt they needed to make a move at running back for insurance. Again, he didn't come right out and say it, but he kind of put it out there.
- He never mentioned Suh.... not that I thought he would show his draft hand at all, but still....
- Schwartz still gives me that feeling, like he did before the season. You know... the feeling like the dude is just a smart guy and if given the time and players, he could be the next bright young coach in this league. Even after a 2-14 season, he still says all the right things and has me fully believing in his ability and strategy. I won't lie, I liked Rod Marinelli, but I never fully believed that he would turn it around. I fully feel that Schwartz will.
It's like an hour and a half long, but it's pretty good listen if you got the time. I listened to it at work today. Here's thelink:
Personally, I like the strategy in place by Schwartz and Mayhew. Build through the draft by adding talented guys that have a place on the roster and not spending too much money on over-priced free agents. The big challenge is if they can keep raising the bar in terms of drafting. They are off to a good start.
Speaking of the '10 draft... I've seen TCLion's prediction about adding Suh and not having to draft in the top10 again for another decade. I've also seen lots of people say that adding Suh will add 4-6 wins next year. I love Suh, so I won't challenge those predictions too much. But what I will do is add one of my own. Like I said, not that I don't think Suh would make a huge impact, but if this team improves by 4-6 games next year it will be because of Stafford, not Suh. Sure Suh will give that D-Line a huge boost, no question. But Stafford's improvement is the key to the future of this franchise. If he can get a little help around him, cut down on the turnovers, stay healthy and take the next step forward in his progression (accuracy, defensive reads, etc)... he will be the biggest reason for our new-found fortunes. Even with Suh, we would have to add a lot more to have a top ten defense.
Let the chaos ensue................