Detroit Lions

Joined the NFL as the Portsmouth Spartans in 1930. Relocated to Detroit and changed name to Lions in 1934.

League Championships: 4 – 1932 (NFL), 1952 (NFL), 1953 (NFL), 1957 (NFL)

Conference Championships: 4 – 1952 (NFC), 1953 (WFC), 1954 (WFC), 1957 (WFC)

Division Championships: 4 – 1935 (NFL West), 1983 (NFC Central), 1991 (NFC Central), 1993 (NFC Central)

Playoff Appearances: 15 – 1932, 1935, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1957, 1970, 1982, 1983, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999

2005 Finish: 5-11, 3 rd Place NFC North

Recent Records:

2004: 6-10 2005: 5-11 2006: 3-13 2007: 7-9 2008: 0-16 2009: 2-14 2010: 6-10

2011 Draft Grade

Detroit Lions (C-)
13: Nick Fairley (11, 7 = 9) +4
44: Titus Young (49, 57 = 53) -9
57: Mikel LeShoure (37, 36 = 37) +20
157: Douglas Hogue (180, 214 = 197) -40
209: Johnny Culbreath (255, 255 = 255) -46

Just 5 picks for the Lions, but as far as explosive playmaking upside goes, they really hit big at the top of the draft! They might not look great with this system, a ranking based on value and getting value from multiple draft slots – but they look as though they picked up 3 starters with huge upside – three guys ranked in the top 55 of this year’s draft eligible players. Fairley might be only a +4 value, but in the first round, that’s huge. When you add that to the fact that he spent much of the lead-up ranked in the top 3, the upside potential gets even better. Titus Young has DeSean Jackson-like speed, and could be a huge piece to take some pressure off of Calvin Johnson and open up the field for the running game. Speaking of that running game, I love the LeShoure pick. He’s a bruiser and a very good all around back, one of the best prospects in the draft. I like what they did, even if my ranking system hands them a D+.

Draft Pick Total: 480 – Player Rankings Total: 551—- TOTAL RANKING: -71

2011 NFL Draft

Detroit Lions 6-10 – Nate Solder, OT, Colorado: I understand that Solder isn’t even the sure-fire top rated offensive tackle, and the Lions might like somebody like Tyron Smith more than Colorado’s big OT, but either way, the Lions should really consider aiming for some offensive line help in the draft. This was a team that couldn’t run the ball last season, and it wasn’t because defenses didn’t pay attention to Calvin Johnson, and it wasn’t because they didn’t have good enough running backs to gain yards – the line just didn’t block well. Plus, if your franchise quarterback was Matthew Stafford and his frail shoulders, wouldn’t you do anything you could to keep defenses away from him? I think Solder’s upside moves him ahead of the rest.


Detroit Lions: B+

I almost gave the Lions an A for leaving receiver off of their draft list until the 5th round, but there were still some questionable additions in one of the Lions best drafts in the Millen era.

The Lions were the worst rushing team in the league last year, and with two of their first three picks they may have drastically improved their running game. Gosder Cherilus was one of the better lineman drafted in the first round, and there were a bunch of them off the board early. Boston College always manages to produce top-level talent on the offensive line, and this case is no different. With the 1st pick in the 3rd round, the Lions grabbed Kevin Smith, who I projected as a starting running back in the NFL. Smith runs a little like Robert Smith, from the Vikings a while back. Both will start immediately and add a boost to a relatively blasé run game.

With their 2nd pick, the Lions took Jordon Dizon, an OLB from Colorado. This was a reach. Dizon was a great college tackler, but I’m not sure he will be a 10 tackle a game guy at the next level. He’s relatively small, and just adds to an undersized linebacking unit in Detroit.

Andre Fluellen should be successful in Detroit’s defensive scheme. He’ll help replace Shaun Rogers, and his motor will prove to be an upgrade at the line of scrimmage. This was a good pick in Round 3.

Cliff Avril was a game-changer at Purdue. He made a living making tackles for loss and will look to help a soft Lions’ defense become more explosive. I like Avril and think his future is bright.

Kenneth Moore has lots of different abilities. He’s kind of like a Darren Sproles type player in that he can make a lot of plays in the passing game as well as on reverses and special teams. Still, do the Lions need more receivers? Answer is no.

Jerome Felton put up some nice numbers at Furman, and has good size, but he runs smaller than his body would indicate (not in a good way – in a Shaunna Alexander way) and might find even more trouble breaking tackles at the NFL level. There were more proven full-backs available.

Landon Cohen isn’t big and he isn’t fast, but he was productive at Ohio. Every single game, he was a force for his defense, and the Lions are hoping that translates to the next level. He’s got good height and could improve.

Caleb Campbell has good size and intelligence. He was the best player on his football team, and is expected to make the roster and help out on special teams and against the run in the secondary. He caps a successful draft in Detroit.

2007 Detroit Lions

The Lions were once again one of the league’s worst teams in 2006. After finally drafting something other than a wide receiver in the first round, (and a mighty good player in Ernie Simms) the Lions remained one of the bottom dwellers in a bad NFC North. Kevin Jones went down late in the ’06 season, and as a result the Lions have traded for Tatum Bell (losing Dre Bly in the process) and singed hefty former first round pick, T.J. Duckett to a one year deal. If Jones is out, at least the Lions will have admirable backups. Jon Kitna played well at times in Mike Martz “let it fly” system, tossing 21 touchdowns, but also losing 22 interceptions in the process, something very common in Martz’s scheme. Roy Williams had a nice year in Detroit, showing why the Lions selected him with their first rounder pick 4 years ago. And Mike Furrey had a career year after spending 2005 as a safety. Big Mike put his hands on 98 balls, leading the NFC in receptions while catching 6 touchdowns. Overall, the Lions remained a consistent disappointment under Matt Millen’s managerial regime, while Rod Marinelli couldn’t turn things around in his first season. It will be interesting to see if Marinelli’s toughness and strict coaching style pulls the slack out of Detroit and turns them around in ’07.

2007 Off-Season Plans:

6-10, 5-11. 3-13… Do you see a trend here? God knows I sure do. The Lions, regardless of how many high draft picks they add to their squad, continue to fail in their pursuit of happiness. Fans are starting to throw things, and many hope every day that Barry Sanders will come back, ending the terrible nightmare that has ensued since his departure from the league many years ago. If you’re a Lions fan, I’m sorry, because I don’t see much changing in 2007. Adding Dwayne White, (former Buc defensive end) should help a very bad defense in Detroit, but losing Dre Bly can’t help. Tatum Bell could excel in Mike Martz’ system, but then again, he could be fumble happy and just another backup when Jones’ returns, if he ever does. Millen never seems to make the right decision, and while this season the draft has a plethora of fancy skill position players that would help the Lions, Matt is almost sure to mess it up, and go with a “safe pick” this time around. If there was ever a time Matt should follow his fantasy team ideal of drafting, this would be the year. Expect the Lions to pass on the best receiving prospect of all time, Calvin Johnson, only to take a lineman or trade down for a defensive upgrade. But then again, trading down isn’t part of Millen’s repertoire. Millen reminds me of the little league baseball coach who thinks his kid is the best player in the league. Everyone knows that dad’s kid sucks, can’t hit or throw, but they let Matt believe his kid is awesome, and therefore Matt’s team gets a bad pick, and they lose every year. That might not make sense, but this will, Millen can’t manage a winner. There, I said it. Good luck Detroit, you’ll need it to rack up a nickels worth of wins next season. Here’s to hoping the Lions make the right decision and select Brady Quinn, a young super star in the waiting on a team where Jon Kitna is the best option.

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