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Friday Notes: Talking Draft Strategy, the Offseason, and Much More

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  • I know it's still early and lots of things could change, but for all of you compiling mock drafts out there, it might be wise to remove Oklahoma State tackle Russell Okung from your list.  I say that because Jim Schwartz spent some time during this week's press conference talking up Jeff Backus, going as far to say that he was worthy of a Pro Bowl selection.  I suppose drafting a tackle is a possibility if the coaches don't have a good feeling about Gosder Cherilus going forward, but I don't think the second pick would be spent for that purpose.  Either way, don't expect Backus to be going anywhere anytime soon.
    "At this time (last year) coming in, the common perception was, ‘Hey, if we don’t have a different left tackle we don’t have a chance and that Backus needs to get moved…’ and all those different things. We went in, we evaluated him, we went through the offseason program, we went through training camp and that concern honestly never came up – as far as coaching staff and when we were going through our grades every week. And every week, you could count on the way Jeff Backus would play.
    I know there has been a lot of debate over the offensive line, but as others on here have pointed out, the Lions need to worry about solidifying positions where there has been a revolving door.  Left tackle, center, and right guard have had constants in Jeff Backus, Dominic Raiola, and Stephen Peterman (when healthy), but left guard and right tackle have been more of a play it by ear type of situation.  One week Daniel Loper would be starting at LG only to be replaced by Manny Ramirez, and the same goes for right tackle with Gosder Cherilus and Jon Jansen

    If the Lions are going to worry about upgrading the offensive line this offseason, they probably are going to start at those two positions before ever worrying about moving or replacing someone like Backus.  To me, the top priority should be finding a left guard.  I know Cherilus has had his struggles, but for now I'm banking on the hope that he will progress in the future.  Right now I just don't see someone that can even fill that role at left guard and leave me comfortable with the o-line.  At least there is potential with someone like Cherilus.  For players like Loper and Ramirez, though, the ceiling just doesn't seem high enough for either one to be a starter for years to come in the NFL.
  • Martin Mayhew spoke with the media yesterday, and a couple of the things he touched on are that it's still too early to give out grades to the last draft class and that a 2-14 record is "unacceptable."
  • With mock draft season already underway, it's important to have a handle on how many picks the Lions have.  I've noticed there has been some confusion on here, but hopefully this blurb from John Niyo will help clear things up:
    The Lions have the No. 2 pick in every round but the seventh in 2010, plus an additional fifth-round pick acquired from Denver on draft day back in April. They traded away their seventh-round pick in 2010 back in early September to acquire safety Ko Simpson from Buffalo. The trade of QB Kevin O'Connell brought back a seventh-round pick in 2011.
    The full seven-round draft order won't be official until after the Super Bowl and after compensatory picks are awarded.
  • During his press conference on Monday, Jim Schwartz did not make it seem like there will be any coaching changes, at least not right now.  Evaluations are still ongoing, so things could change, but for now I am with Reverend Spielman of Church of Schwartz -- it really is anyone's guess as to why Stan Kwan hasn't been fired yet.

(More after the jump)

  • Louis Delmas didn't receive any votes for the defensive rookie of the year award.
  • Matthew Stafford was named "Mr. Tough Guy" by Terry Bradshaw during his annual "awards show."
  • Yahoo! Sports' Shutdown Corner named the Lions' win over the Browns as the best game of the season.
  • In terms of clock management and conserving timeouts, Jim Schwartz finished tied for first in the entire league when it came to having at least two timeouts at the end of a close game.  In seven close games for the Lions this season, Schwartz had at least two timeouts in his pocket all seven times, giving him a perfect score.
  • Looking ahead to next season, the one thing Matthew Stafford wants to improve the most is having fewer turnovers.
  • Calvin Johnson finished the season 16 yards short of 1,000 yards.
  • Last week Scott Linehan talked about the importance of finding someone to line up opposite Calvin Johnson to take some of the attention away from him.
  • John Niyo put together a list of the Lions' free agents this coming offseason.
  • One of those free agents, Casey FitzSimmons, would like to stay with the Lions, though it looks like he will test the waters before making a decision about re-signing with the team.
  • Kevin Smith talked about how painful tearing his ACL was in his latest blog post.
  • Cliff Avril shared his thoughts on the 2009 season on his blog.
  • The Lions had the worst record of any NFL team over the last decade and it wasn't even close.
  • Congratulations to qbdoyle1 for winning the Pride of Detroit survivor league.  He picked a game correctly every week of the season and edged out msgolions, who was eliminated as a result of the Broncos' loss to Kansas City in the last week of the season.
  • I nearly had to say congratulations to qbdoyle1 a second time for what happened in the Pride of Detroit pick'em league, but he ended up finishing tied for second with two others.  Instead sasapoof69 gets a pat on the back for winning the pick'em league, finishing the season with a record of 176-80.  The three users who tied for second ended up with a 173-83 record.
  • A couple of coaching updates from around the league in case you haven't already heard: Mike Shanahan is the new head coach of the Redskins after signing a five-year deal that will pay him $7 million per year.  In Cleveland, there will be no coaching change, as Mike Holmgren has decided to keep Eric Mangini around.  Back after the Browns lost to Detroit I would have never believed that Mangini would be back as Cleveland's coach, but finishing the season on a four-game winning streak did enough for him to keep his job.
  • This isn't related to a head coaching job, but I will mention it anyways: Rod Marinelli is not going to be the Bears' defensive coordinator.