Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Detroit Lions: Rebuilding Since 1957

The recent release of Kevin Jones has fired up the word processors of many a NFL columnist. It is an oft-told and sad tale about the ineptitude of Matt Millen and his disastrous reign as the president of the Detroit Lions. Hubris. Arrogance. Incompetence. Maybe it’s a good thing that he is running a football franchise rather than calling the shots in say, U.S. foreign policy. Or maybe he is doing that on the side too, which would explain a few things.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated gives a run down of drafts in the Matt Millen era (though I do disagree a bit with his evaluation of Jeff Backus as a "Very good player" ):

2001: Round 1, 18th overall, T Jeff Backus. Very good player --112 career games, all starts. Round 2, (50), C Dominic Raiola. Above-average five-year starter. Round 2 (61) DT Shaun Rogers. Perennial tease just traded to Browns.
2002: Round 1 (3) QB Joey Harrington. Booed out of town in '05. Now a Falcon. Round 2 (35) DE Kalimba Edwards. Six seasons, 26 sacks. Just cut.
2003: Round 1 (2) WR Charles Rogers. Injuries, substance abuse made him a bust. Round 2 (34) LB Boss Bailey. Five years, moderate impact. Now a Bronco.
2004: Round 1 (7) WR Roy Williams. Very good wideout. Unhappy. On the block. Round 1 (30) RB Kevin Jones. Cut after one good and three nothing years. Round 2 (37) LB Teddy Lehman. Hurt too much. Just signed with Bucs.
2005: Round 1 (10) WR Mike Williams. Lasted two pathetic years before being cut. Round 2 (37) DT Shaun Cody. Backup DT. Seven career starts.
2006: Round 1 (9) LB Ernie Sims. Genuine item. Solid player, great leader. Round 2 (40) FS Daniel Bullocks. Good rookie year. Hurt second year. Can he rebound?

The good news is the Lions can’t possibly draft worse in the next seven draft years (or can they?) And while pundits may now rain down contempt at Matt Millen's draft record, he usually does receive decent grades on draft day. And, even though there is major incompetence at work here, there is also some bad luck too (i.e. the Kevin Jones injury situation, Charlie Roger's broken collar bones)

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