(ALLEN PARK) - Is a loss ever a good thing?
If you are in the playoff race, of course not, if you are on the hot seat for your job, of course not. But if you are the Detroit Lions....well....maybe.
Detroit was in the middle of a logjam of teams that had four wins going into Sunday's game against San Diego. With the loss of a very winnable home game against a bad San Diego Chargers team Detroit may have lost some fans, but also may have helped themselves over the long run. Detroit rose on the NFL draft board to no worse than 7th.
Realistically, Detroit needs to get into the top five to be able to have something that someone else wants, that is, for a "trade down" scenario. Also, that is where Detroit needs to be if it wants to add a playmaker to its roster if it decides to make a pick.
Currently, the draft order would shape out this way:
Atlanta, Arizona, San Diego and Oakland all have just three wins. Cleveland,
Jacksonville and Detroit all have four wins. Detroit with road games at Kansas
City and Carolina before ending the season with St. Louis, doesn't figure to win another
game this season.
Detroit would love to see one of those teams catch fire and rise ahead of them in the standings so that they can get a higher draft position.
Detroit desperately needs a big-play threat in the backfield and the top players like Michigan's Chris Perry, Virginia Tech's Kevin Jones and Oregon State's Steven Jackson all figure to be around at that point, but if Miami's Kellen Winslow, Jr. is out there and available, the Lions would likely jump at the chance to add a big playmaker to their roster and look to round two or later in the first round to add the running back they so desperately need.
With their history of taking fliers on injured players with potential, Clarence Farmer
of Arizona could be looming in the back of their minds. Farmer has first round
talent, and most resembles Clinton Portis of Denver, a back Detroit passed on, but his
off-the-field and disciplinary problems making him a round three risk.
Meanwhile, injuries and contract figures continue to shake out Detroit's future roster. Az-Zahir Hakim's continuing string of injuries has his future with Detroit clearly in doubt. While Hakim likely will be the #3 man in Detroit next season, the Lions might shop around since there figure to be an abundance of receivers on the free agent market.
Corey Harris' season ending knee injury will open the door for rookie Terence Holt, who has played well in his limited duty, to take over permanently as the team's strong safety. Holt has speed that Harris doesn't and when you're 35-years old having lost a step and suffer a knee injury, one can foresee a sceario where it is career threatening.
James Stewart doesn't figure to be back with contract figures of $3 and $5.9 million remaining on his deal. The same can be said for Luther Elliss who has years of $4.3 and $5.5 remaining on his contract.
Decisions will have to be made on linebacker Barrett Green, who is young enough, but not productive enough to warrant a new deal. Green will have to be reasonable or he'll likely be playing elsewhere next season. Green definitely warrants are a raise over his paltry $450,000 figure but not one that is prohibitive.
James Hall is coming to the end of his one-year $1.3 million deal and would be a valuable commodity on the free agent market after posting 4.5 sacks tied atop the team with veteran Robert Porcher this season so far. Detroit needs to make room for young Cory Redding, who can also play at tackle and coach Steve Mariucci has indicated that he will likely go with more younger players in the lineup next season.