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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Detroit Lions 2010 Projection and Preview

Last Years Record                                                                  2-14
Wins: Redskins and Browns
Losses: Vikings (x2), Packers (x2), Bears (x2), Saints, Steelers, Rams, Seahawks, 49ers, Cardinals, Bengals, Ravens
Biggest Playmaker                                                                 Calvin Johnson
WR, Georgia Tech, Drafted #2, 4th Year
Coming out of Georgia Tech Calvin Johnson was one of the most physically gifted prospects.  Unfortunately he has not had a talented quarterback to throw him the ball, but he has still managed 21 touchdowns in three seasons to go along with a 1,300 yard season.  However, with Stafford in his second year Johnson should see his numbers rise.
Impact Player                                                                           Matthew Stafford
QB, Georgia, Drafted #1, 2nd Year
Stafford is a very talented quarterback and obviously experienced some growing pains as a rookie but certainly showed some toughness.  He definitely has more talent around him this year and needs to limit the interceptions (20 a year ago).
Biggest Offseason Addition                                      Nate Burleson
WR, Nevada, Drafted #71, 7th Year
In order to keep defenses honest, Burleson provides Matthew Stafford with a legitimate number two receiving threat. Burleson, who has toured with many teams in his career, has consistently produce, no matter the role he played. With a deep ball arm in Stafford, I feel Burleson will fit right in at Mo-Town.
Biggest Offseason Loss                                                        Ernie Sims
LB, Florida State, Drafted #9, 5th Year
Ernie Sims has been very solid for the Lions, recording over 110 tackles in each of his first three seasons.  Last year he missed five games with a shoulder injury and his presence will certainly be missed.
Biggest Draft Steal                                                                 Jahvid Best
RB, California, Drafted #30, Rookie
The Lions have been raving about this kid all offseason; the explosiveness, the top line speed, and agility are all impressive. If he is used efficiently in this coming 2010 season, we could see a star in the making. Some people note his size as a problem for him becoming a future lead back in the NFL, yet I think his size is absolutely perfect. At 5'10 200lbs he can hide behind blockers and use his explosiveness to hit the right holes. With Kevin Smith still recovering from a torn ACL, look for Best to be the best RB in the Detroit Lions backfield. This guy is a pure playmaker who will be a regular in "Sportcenter's Top Ten."
Biggest Draft Mistake                                                           None
My only issue with the Lions’ 2010 draft is that they did not address the offensive line need until the 128th pick when they took Jason Fox from Miami.  If they want Stafford to develop they need to keep him upright.
Offseason Grade                                                                      B+
The Lions brought in players that will immediately contribute in the 2010 offseason.  Jahvid Best will be the starting running back, Ndamukong Suh is expected to be an impact player.  They also signed TE Tony Scheffler, WR Nate Burleson, DE Kyle Vanden Bosch and CBs Chris Houston and Jonathan Wade.
X-Factor                                                                                                   Pass Defense
Somehow the Lions had the worst pass defense in the NFL last year.  The reason that this is surprising is because they had such a miserable season.  When teams are losing 85% of their games I would xpet them to have a poor rushing defense.  When teams are winning, they can simply just run down the clock late in the game.  But they also had the 25th best run defense.  They will need to stop the pass early in games to have any chance at a decent season. 
Name You Should Know                                       Kyle Vanden Bosch
DE, Nebraska, Drafted #34, 10th Year
Kyle Vanden Bosch has seen his sack totals dip the last two seasons but has twice registered 12 sacks in a season.  Vanden Bosch will be a big part of the Lions’ season and provides some veteran leadership.  He will definitely play an important role mentoring rookie Ndamukong Suh.
Rising Star                                                                                  DeAndre Levy
LB, Wisconsin, Drafted #76, 2nd Year
Deandre Levy recorded 85 tackles in his rookie year, also forcing a fumble and intercepting a pass.  Deandre Levy missed the Lions’ first game with a groin injury but will be a big piece this year.  The addition of Ndamukong Suh up front should help him tremendously.
Offensive Outlook                                                                   C+
I think Matt Stafford will be a great quarterback, but give him a couple of years.  The Lions added a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball (Burleson, Scheffler, Best) but their offensive line is weak.  A strong line is essential in the development of a young quarterback.
Defensive Outlook                                                                   C-
The defense definitely made some improvements from their two-win campaign a year ago, most notably on the defensive line.  Suh dominated in his senior seasons at Nebraska, Vanden Bosch has 10-sack potential (and had 11 tackles in week 1), and Corey Williams will start at the other tackle spot.  All three of them are new to the Lions.  They also added two new corners.  The Lions are a very different team than they were a year ago.
Special Teams Outlook                                                        C
In 2009, punter Nick Harris averaged a 21st-ranking 42.9 yards per punt and just 20 kicks inside the 20.  Jason Hanson did not have a great year, and the Lions are not strong in the kick return game.  Aaron Brown was the 57th ranking kick returner (yards per return) in the NFL last year.
Projected 2010 Record                                                         6-10
The Lions made enough changes in the offseason that they should be considered a completely different team.  Stafford should make some strides, and if Jahvid Best can play as well as the staff thinks he can, the Lions could have an explosive offense.

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