New Era Scouting: Lions need 3rd RB; physical DBs

Sunday, July 5, 2009

An interesting read from David Syvertsen at New Era Scouting, giving a team-by-team analysis of offensive and defensive needs of every team in the NFC North.

For the Lions, Syvertsen singles out a need for a compliment to Kevin Smith:

The future is in Matthew Stafford’s hands and the future may very well begin right away on September 13th. Keeping that in mind, the Lions are need to have a few components set in place for Stafford to succeed. Just look at what the Ravens and Falcons did in 2008 with their respective rookie quarterbacks. They pounded the football and took advantage of durable, powerful running backs. Kevin Smith and the Lions offensive line really turned it on late in the 2008 season and if they can pick up where the left off, Stafford’s transition to the NFL game will be much easier. However Smith and his record setting amount of carries in college need break here and there. Maurice Morris was signed to take some carries away but beyond him, the Lions have nobody worth giving the ball to. If they can bring in a back with some youth, their offense appears to be set for the early portion of the Stafford era.

Hey Maurice Morris ain't chopped liver. And a lot of teams' RB depth falls off after the second guy. I would say of far more concern is whether the Lions have capably filled out their WR corps to take any kind of pressure off Calvin Johnson. (And I will again say, and say forever, that it is absolutely amazing what Calvin did last year with virtually no help from his fellow WRs and with four different, not-very-good QBs throwing to him.)

As for the Lions' defensive needs, I think Syvertsen is right on the money -- Physical DBs:
When looking over the Lions depth chart and comparing it to what Jim Schwartz built in Tennessee, one has to believe he is lacking the kind of defensive backs he needs for this unit to succeed. The cornerbacks will have a tough time playing physical at the line and running downfield with their cover assignment as most of them lack the complete package. Phillip Buchanon has done a nice job reviving his career but can he play within the physical scheme Schwartz has brought in? Eric King and Anthony Henry have proven to be quality, reliable cover men but how will they do when matched up with the division’s more physical receivers? With a defense that had nowhere to go but up from a dismal 2008, the defensive backs are going to be relied upon to come up and make tackles at the edge. Outside of the oft-injured Henry, none of these starting caliber defensive backs can give you that kind of confidence outside of rookie Louis Delmas.

Our DB corps would seem to be much better. But how could they not be over last year? Whether "better" will equal "good enough," we'll soon know.

Agree or disagree with Syvertsen's assessment? Discuss in The Den!