Well guys, it's been a while since I've posted, and it seems we're nearing the end of this whole debacle. With that said, and free agency potentially a week away, I started dreaming up (realistic) scenarios of who we could see starting in the Honolulu Blue and Silver come week one of the NFL season (thankfully, I can actually say that with a little conviction).
This is just my depth chart, based on realism and a little bit of my own bias. Would you be happy with this? What changes would you like to see made? Let's see some roster discussion, since we can actually kinda do that now!
|Detroit Lions Depth Chart - 2011|
|WR||Nate Burleson||Derrick Williams||Stefan Logan|
|TE||Brandon Pettigrew||Tony Scheffler||Will Heller|
|LT||Jeff Backus||Jason Fox|
|LG||Rob Sims||Donald Thomas|
|C||Dominic Raiola||Dylan Gandy|
|RG||Stephen Peterman||Donald Thomas|
|RT||Gosder Cherilus||Corey Hilliard|
|WR||Calvin Johnson||Titus Young|
|QB||Matthew Stafford||Shaun Hill|
|HB||Jahvid Best||Mikel LeShoure||Maurice Morris|
|Base 4-3 Defense|
|LDE||Cliff Avril||Lawrence Jackson|
|LDT||Corey Williams||Nick Fairley|
|RDT||Ndamukong Suh||Sammie Lee Hill||Andre Fluellen|
|RDE||Kyle Vanden Bosch||Turk McBride||Willie Young|
|WLB||Stephen Nicholas||Bobby Carpenter|
|MLB||DeAndre Levy||Doug Hogue|
|SLB||Justin Durant||Ashlee Palmer|
|CB||Nathan Vasher||Paul Pratt||Jack Williams|
|SS||Amari Spievey||Erik Coleman|
|FS||Louis Delmas||Randy Phillips|
|CB||Carlos Rogers||Alphonso Smith||Aaron Berry|
QB: Matt Stafford is the obvious starter, and in this year of years, where he takes the next step or not, we have a capable starter in Shaun Hill, and Drew Stanton moving on to free agency, to sign somewhere that he has a remote chance of starting. I don't see the FO wasting a roster spot on another QB, as we have no developmental guy in place, and have no need of another veteran presence. We have too many young guys to test for us to hang onto a non-factor like Robinson.
RB/FB: Probably no surprises on this front, other than Felton's absence. I do believe Mayhew will move him via trade somewhere for a draft pick or something, though I doubt it'll be a large transaction. Clapp is a traditional FB, and will be retained for spot duty in some heavy sets, though that may not necessarily be the case. We've seen Heller play an H-back in many goal line/heavy sets, but I do think we will fill that spot with someone.
WR: Again, no real surprises, though Toone is a pick of mine for special teams and maybe some backup return duties behind Logan. Logan will be retained because of his versatility at WR and RB, along with his (now limited) return abilities.
OL: Donald Thomas will be in house to back up either guard position, with Gandy able to do so in an emergency as well. The guy who they want to see take a step in development, Fox, will be behind Cherilus, possibly taking his position if he's not ready at the beginning of the year. He may have to compete with Hilliard for time, but I think the emphasis is seeing what he has to offer.
DL: I think we will see the return of our entire d-line with the addition of Fairley - why change something that works? Fluellen will make it on the squad (though I'm not a fan of his) and provide depth in a rapidly rotating defensive front.
LB: Here comes the fun part... With reports that we're interested in Durant, and his pricetag looking to be pretty conservative, I do think that we will pursue and sign him. Likewise for Nicholas, who we will pay a decent contract to in order to prevent him staying in Atlanta. I see Nicholas as the de facto WLB starter, with Durant competing with Palmer for the strong side.
Both of these players suit the defense wonderfully, IMO. Nicholas is a known commodity with youth and a lot of upside to grow in a stud defense. Durant is still not quite a 'reclamation project' that we've seen recently, but I think that he's a guy we'll swoop on, and may not start this year, but is worth a cheap investment. They're both rangy LB's who need a little fine tuning, and that's a huge step up from what we saw last year. I really don't think that the coaching staff believes we're going to be contending this year, and will be content to pick up some almost there guys who will be big contributors a year or two from now.
CB: And here we are. Yes, I know Nathan Vasher is a starting corner in this instance. Yes, I know I have Carlos Rogers as our 'big FA CB pickup' here. But as I said above, I don't see us going for anyone really massive this year. Rogers is on the outs in Washington, which makes his salary attractive, and is a very solid cover corner, which we need badly. Rogers will definitely be able to cover WR's in the short span the QB will have to get the ball out, and his size is also decent (6'0" 180).
Houston will depart via free agency. I really think that his stock has increased with the exposure he gained on the team (yes, I just said that) and he'll find a team like the Texans who will overvalue what he brings to the table. He obviously doesn't have much alliegence to the team (not that I necessarily blame him) and will pursue the payday.
I don't see us picking up two fresh FA corners - that doesn't seem to be our front office's style. Vasher has years of experience as a starter, and will start over Smith in most cases due to his relatively low risk. He's not flashy, but he gets it done, and after being burned over and over last year, I don't think we're going to risk our secondary getting smoked like that. Smith will eventually start, it'll probably just be next year. Pratt, Williams, and Berry all showed flashes last year and will be given time to prove themselves through the season.
S: Delmas is obviously a lock. Spievey will get the start in order to not stunt his development, but Coleman will be the insurance policy for him. I wanted to retain Wendling, because I love his ST ability, but if Speivey doesn't pan out, Phillips will be relied on for developmental reasons.
So there you have it. Stanton, Follett, Houston, Felton all departing, and another year of Lions football.