[depth chart last updated 5/26/14]
• So the first question is obvious. How come we have Reggie Bush as a good player and Joique Bell with an identical rating? Truthfully, I think with more carries, Bell would actually show himself to be a better player. This was by far Bush’s best all-around season and we still had Bell graded higher and, as a receiver, significantly so. He takes the ball in far less opportune areas (short yardage) and just makes things happen. Of those players with over 50 carries he ranked eighth in forced missed tackles per attempt and he’s only getting better.
• It might be a little bit early to put Larry Warford in the “high quality” category, but he did so little wrong it was hard to argue against. In our view he should have been a starting Pro Bowler and the fact Kyle Long was selected before him shows just how twisted the system has become.
• I wanted to put Jason Jones down as “below average” but Khaled talked me out of it. Now as a pass rushing defensive tackle he may well be better than that but at end he’s never played well. Tennessee decided to play him there in 2011 after a stellar season the prior year in the interior. It was a disaster and frankly it looked it may go that way again last year before injury cut it short.
1. Third Wide Receiver
The selection of Eric Ebron means maybe the Lions will view 12 personnel the way most teams view 11 personnel but regardless there will still be three wide receivers on the field and it will be often. Ryan Broyles is looking more and more like a second round bust managing three drops on 11 catchable balls in 114 pass routes. His 0.77 Yards Per Route Run (despite having Calvin Johnson drawing coverage) was an appalling return. Now, teams don’t give up on that high a pick without a fight so he’ll probably get at least training camp to pick up his game. Both Kris Durham and Kevin Ogletree also had issues so maybe T.J. Jones has a chance. However it pans out this doesn’t look like a position of strength for Detroit.
2. Strongside Linebacker
This may not end up being much of a “battle” but perhaps I’m dismissing Ashlee Palmer too easily and draftee Kyle Van Noy will not play to expectations. It’s thought the job is his, but rookies have a trait of not being easy to predict. Add to this Palmer, while not doing a great job, wasn’t completely awful either and it at least has the makings of a scrap if not an all-out war.
Many see the whole corner situation in Detroit as a festering sore and were shocked when the Lions went tight end in the first round and didn’t take (or trade down to take) one of the four first round CBs taken after their pick. Indeed they didn’t take a corner until the fourth round (Nevin Lawson) which suggests they are happier with what they have than others. Is their reason for optimism? Well Rashean Mathis did a much better job than expected and if he can replicate his late season form he’ll be a starter in base. After that though things get hazy. Chris Houston looked terrible before bowing out in week 14 and Darius Slay looked out of his depth (at least early) before having a little late-season success. In the slot, Dwight Bentley had an inconsistent year with unfortunately a lot more poor games than good ones.
Mixed bag is too kind a phrase and I’m expecting a lot of experimentation before they finalize the nickel secondary from that lot.