Defensive Ends Are Pink Elephants.

Often time I question conventional wisdom. I was that kid that brought “why” or “why not” to his adult vocabulary. I’ll be even more diligent with that practice now that I’ve started a new book called Mastermind by Maria Konnikova. It’s all about the thought process of super sleuth Sherlock Holmes. Konnikova writes “Holmes’s trick is to treat every thought, every experience and every perception the way he would a pink elephant.”

As in, “Huh? Wait. There’s no such thing. Don’t be ridiculous.”

In a similar vein, from The Dark Knight Rises, from his hospital bed Commissioner Gordon promotes Officer Blake to the rank of Detective, with the advice to question everything and be cognizant that there’s such thing as coincidence. The only coincidence is that yet again fans AKA the mob, should spend Sundays where they are now – the stadium seats. I’ll concede that certain key decison makers in the Lions organization should be there as well.

Even though we’re more than three months of free agency, potential trades and exhaustive combine and scouting drills away from the draft, seemingly everywhere you look, hear or read, Lions fans want the team to take a pass rusher with their first round pick. It’s not helping that you’ll struggle to find a mock draft that doesn’t have the Lions taking a pass rusher with the 5th overall pick.

I get it, conventional wisdom says Cliff Avril won’t get the franchise tag again (thus, giving him 120% of the previous figure, as a two-time franchise tagee), and he surely won’t allow the Lions to offer a hometown discount, so Avril is as good as gone. Lawrence Jackson is a free agent, Willie Young, whose last known whereabouts were sometime in August, is a restricted free agent and Kyle Vanden Bosch, well, he’s 35 and if you’re that age and neither productive nor the spiritual leader of a cohesive (productive) unit, then you’re probably going to be looking for work, or how to apply yourself in post-football life as months come off the calender.

It looks like the Lions will have not one but TWO openings for starting defensive ends for their 2013.

That means you’re going to spend the next three months reading up on, then talking yourself (and telling me I’m wrong) into Jarvis Jones, Bjoern Werner, Damontre Moore, or Barkevious Mingo. At this moment they are the elite passer rushers – either as DE’s or DE/OLB combos – of the draft. Don’t look them up, before April you’ll know them like brothers.

Fox Sports mock for you, CBS Sports, a little bloggy, but I enjoy reading Walter Football’s mocks as well.

This whole issue is my pink elephant. The Lions pass rushing need, specifically at 5, shouldn’t exist.

Outside of Calvin Johnson, if there’s something to be confident in about the Lions going into 2013, it’s that their defensive tackle combo of Suh and Fairley, just may be the best duo in the league. I’d written before the only thing we, as casual TV observers, can evaluate and make judgments off of when it comes to line play is sacks and penalties. That goes for both offensive and defensive lines. We are line ignoramuses.

I’ll let my favorite football scouting site do the work; fresh with their own analytical analysis, Profootballfocus

On Suh from the Falcons game:

After registering another three hits in last night’s game Ndamukong Suh took his season total to 19. That is the most hits for any defensive tackle in the five years we have been grading NFL games. Suh has also set a career best this season with 55 pressures (8 Sk, 19 Ht, 28 Hu) and counting.

From PFF’s Pro Bowl selections:

The more conventional 4-3 DT spots are taken by a pair of young players with Gerald McCoy finally on the field and able to show the extraordinary blend of speed and power that had the Buccaneers so excited back in 2010. He has excelled with unnerving consistency against both run and pass irrespective of the players lining up across from him. He is joined by another young player putting a turbulent start to his career behind him. Ndamukong Suh may draw the headlines but Fairley has been magnificent this season putting a slow start behind him with a scintillating run of form from Week 6 onwards. If he could stop jumping offsides he would be up with McCoy challenging for a starting spot rather than seeing off the attentions of Henry Melton whose fine performances in primetime games this season have ensured that he is well known as a defensive tackle to fear in the coming seasons.

I understand that it’s difficult to offer the Lions an umpteenth leap of faith and believe that this fine interior defensive line play will continue and pray-to-God even improve, but perhaps in a naive fashion, I’ll say Suh and Fairley will play all 16 games of 2013 as disruptively as they did the final half of this past season.

I’m all for the sound and fundamental football strategy of building from the lines out, but if you’re with me on Fairley and Suh for ’13, you’re loading up your bazooka to kill the pesky fly if you believe the Lions should add ANOTHER first round player to that line.

But Eric, Avril’s had 29 sacks the last three years!

So? He was the 92nd player taken in the 2008 draft. #BREAKING – there are only 32 picks per round.

Cliff was a third round pick.

I’m not saying the Lions should completely ignore defensive end/pass rusher in April. But when the Lions have so many desperate needs on the roster, don’t waste the 5th overall pick on a unit that already offers two Pro Bowl/All Pro type of players. It requires little hardcore football knowledge, just common sense, to comprehend that if Fairley and Suh are replicating what they did in the final half of ’12, then it should be a great deal easier for whomever is on either side of them to be a disruptive pass rushing presence.

So as the unofficially, unappointed GM of the Lions what would I do at five? Before we go through the nonsense of guys getting hyped up, or hyped down, at this very moment, without the certainty of being able to trade down, unless he has some inescapable and overt weaknesses as judged by the combine and scouts, just take Dee Milliner (he SHOULD be there at 5, I think) and call it a first round.

What about the fact that the Lions probably need receivers as badly as they do defensive ends? Heading into his third fullly healthy season, it’s time for Stafford to start making his pass catchers look better than they are. Just as Aaron Rodgers did as his receivers were in and out of the lineup all year due to injuries; James Jones led the NFL in touchdown catches. Just as Andrew Luck turned Florida International’s T.Y. Hilton into an 861 yard, 7 TD weapon. Lastly, Eric Decker was a thousand yard, 13 TD receiver snagging balls from the guy with suspect neck.

Sorry Matthew, time to make chicken salad out of of chicken shit if you’re asked. And you will be asked because you’re likely getting a monster deal so the team can get some salary cap relief.

The Lions have so many free agents, such a cap quandry, and in January there are just so many variables that need to be mulled over.

However, at this very moment, with that premium second round pick the Lions have at 36 overall, or maybe I’m trying to move up, I want the best safety in the draft. Here’s Walter Football’s list of best safeties available with their projected selection. Eric Reid? Matt Elam? Someone, anyone who can put fear in receivers with big hits, yet still have ball skills to deflect and pick off passes and if it’s not too much to ask, can you come to the line of scrimmage and plug a hole every now and then. Thanks!

The secondary conundrum, at least as far as the draft is concerned, is finally a closed cased. Elementary!

Now, about those holes on the offensive line, the lack of playmakers at linebacker, a dynamic Cobb/Harvin type out of the backfield, or in the slot, at least one, but maybe two new kicking specialists…see, the Lions ‘To Do’ list is lengthy.

This was just a simple post to state my opinion that it’s mostly unnecessary for the Lions to draft a pass rusher with their 5th overall pick in April.

 

 

 

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