Scouting The Offseason

Scouting expert Josh Turel breaks down the Lions' off-season acquisitions, including a scouting report on each draft selection, and how the new Lions will fit in with the silver and blue. In-depth analysis inside (free article).

Damien Woody
6-4 320

Positives: Very well rounded center, plays with amazing athleticism for a guy his size and displays good power and strength. Exceptional run blocker, plays with great leverage and balance, uses his hands well and is able to control defenders. Takes good angles to his blocks, consistently turns lineman away from the hole and drives them. Plays in space well, displays the ability to trap and pull, maintains body control and hits moving targets well. Has the speed to reach the linebackers on a consistent basis and contributes downfield. Solid pass protector, gets separation from defenders and keeps them off his body. Intelligent player, doesn't overextend and is fluid in picking up blitzes and helping out the guards in pass protection. Great size for a guard/center.

Negatives: I've always thought Woody looked out of place as a center. Because he is required to snap the ball every down, for some reason it has really thrown off his initial quickness off the line. When I watched older films of him at guard, he didn't have this problem. Hopefully a permanent move to guard will cure this. I'm also concerned with Woody's conditioning. At times during the season he appeared to just flat out take plays off and didn't come off the line with any burst. If the coaching staff can maintain his stamina and focus he should benefit greatly.

How does he fit in with the silver and blue?
In my opinion Damien Woody is a top five guard and is still getting better. Damien is an incredible athlete and very powerful, he can move mountains in the run game and contribute in space, two areas where the team was lacking last season. If the coaching staff can keep him in shape and motivated, there are few better in the league.

Fernando Bryant
5-10 175

2003 Stats
70 62 8 2 2 1 9

Positives: One of the best pure man coverage corners in the league. Great athlete, has optimum speed, quickness and agility. Very fluid in his backpedal, and is smooth turning downfield. Gets a nice burst out of his plant which allows him to break on balls quickly. Gets excellent positioning, and rarely draws interference penalties. Excellent at diagnosing a play, reads the quarterback well and anticipates the throw. Solid in zone coverage, gets depth and has great range.

Negatives: Lacks size and needs to add more bulk. Gets beat if he tries to play press and cannot jam receivers. Is a non factor in supporting the run, and is overall not a physical player. Has a great vertical but will struggle against tall, strong receivers. Appears to be anxious to make a big play and will occasionally go for the interception rather than the breakup.

How does he fit in with the silver and blue? I've always thought Fernando Bryant has been highly underrated and may be the best pure coverage corner next to Champ Bailey. As a whole package, Bryant is still a top 10 corner, but needs to improve in some areas of his game. The best comparison to him is probably Dre' Bly, both are smaller corners who are excellent in man coverage and breaking on the ball. Bryant will be an excellent #2 corner for the Lions and will give the team the solid duo they have longed for.

Tai Streets
Wide Receiver
6-3 205

2003 Stats
47 595 12.7 41 7

Positives: Has great measurables/tools, tall, speedy receiver who can make plays down field. Creates mismatches will slower defensive backs and is excellent at going up for the jump ball. Soft hands, looks the ball in and displays great concentration. Snatches and tucks very quickly, not allowing defensive backs to jar the ball loose. Is a long and short type player, can be work well in traffic yet make the deep play. Is a threat after the catch, catches in stride and accelerates up field. Gets good results as a blocker.

Negatives: Lacks initial quickness off the line. Isn't a strong player and is slowed by the jam. Struggles to get a clean release when corners play up on him. Doesn't run sharp routes, tends to round off and doesn't set up defensive backs or conceal his cuts. Has a lot of speed but isn't a very quick player, lacks burst out of his cuts and doesn't explode off the line. Has had durability problems in the past.

How does he fit in with the silver and blue? The connection with Steve Mariucci gives me confidence considering that Mooch has worked with Tai in the past and feels that he can get the job done in Detroit. Streets is a nice compliment to a future stars Roy Williams and Charles Rogers, who both demand defensive attention. Streets ability to flat out fly down the sideline will peel safeties away from the duo giving them more room to work. Tai has been productive the last two years playing in a secondary role and provides the reliable hands the Lions desperately need.

David Loverne
6-3 299

Positives: Has great initial quickness, comes off the ball well and gets into the defenders quickly. Solid overall strength, can drive defenders off the ball and shields them away from the play. Uses his hands well, gets under defenders pads and uses great leverage. Plays low, and finishes his blocks with authority. Excellent run blocker, combines power, balance and quickness to beat defensive tackles. Moves the pile well in short yardage plays.

Negatives: A very poor pass protector. Has sloppy techique against faster tackles and is a huge miss match vs. one gap tackles. Is more of a mauler than a technician in pass pro, which causes him to be overly aggressive and lose his balance and leverage. Lunges at faster defenders and is an overall non factor in space. Is below average at getting a body on linebackers at the 2nd level. Could add some bulk.

How does he fit in with the silver and blue? David Loverne was like a square going into a round hole in St. Louis. A powerful run blocking guard who was in a pass heavy system? Didn't make much sense to me but David should fit in nice with Detroit who can afford the trade off because of their solid pass blocking. Loverne would make a great reserve if the Lions can find another starter for the position, but if hes forced to start David is a downgrade from the departed Eric Beverly because of his poor pass blocking skills. However the Lions need to boost the run blocking area and Loverne should help them do that. He is also a nice option to sub in on short yardage situations where the team struggled badly last season.

Brock Marion
5-11 205

Positives: The crafty veteran safety still has another solid season left in the tank. Although he isn't the athlete he once was, Marion still has great instincts and recognition skills. Reads the quarterback well and anticipates the throw. Still has enough range to be play sideline to sideline and excels in zone coverage. Is always around the ball and takes good angles in pursuit. Is still an aggressive safety who can help support against the run.

Negatives: Is obviously way past his prime. His athleticism is obviously declining and he isn't the speedster he once was. Has also lost some in his physical play, doesn't play as well in pursuit and doesn't disengage blockers as well. Although he recorded 100 tackles last season, his tackling form is declining and he's not a big hitter anymore. Is at a disadvantage when covering receivers one on one and doesn't play well in man coverage. Gambles on plays to make up for his lack of speed, and occasionally gets caught out of position, and doesn't have the ability to recover after he's burned.

How does he fit with the silver and blue?
Because of all the offseason trouble, Brocks place on the team is in question but whether he makes it or not, Marion is no long term answer. He still has a year or two of productivity left in him and is still a fringe top 10 safety but his game is in obvious regression. Although he made the pro bowl last season, he is not that caliber of a player but should do a solid job this season. Marion's experience will also help groom Terrence Holt into his heir apperant, and the fact that he hasn't played on a below 500.% team should rub off on his teammates.

Roy Williams
Wide Receiver
6'2" 212 4.38
Comparison: Terrell Owens minus the headaches

Strength: Can be absolutely dominant at times. Has all the natural skills to be a star at the next level. Outstanding frame, uses his size very well to get position. Gets a clean release, and uses his physical skills well to disengage the press. Standout athlete who can stretch the field and is always a deep ball threat because of his athleticism, jumping ability and hands. A technician at catching the football. Great concentration, sees the ball in, and has soft hands. Solid route runner, does a good job of disguising routes by staying low into cuts, and exploding out of his breaks. Exceptional after the catch, very tough to bring down.

Weakness: Has great potential as a blocker because of his physical skills, but rarely is able to sustain blocks or drive defenders. Struggles to block in the open field, and is not a factor at blocking down field. Has durability problems. Often plays hurt which noticeably affects his game. Has trouble being consistently productive, gets hot then tends to disappear. Tends to round off curl and out routes.

How does he fit in with the Silver and Blue?
Williams has displayed absolute brilliance at times, and the potential to take over a game much like Randy Moss and Terrell Owens do. The scary part is that Williams still has a lot of potential to get better, and if he can improve upon his consistency he could be a top notch receiver in no time. Roy can do it all receiving wise, catch in traffic, go deep and create after the catch. The total package at receiver who will be a devastating combo with Charles Rogers for many years to come, and will allow speedy threats Az Hakim and Tai Streets to move to the slot where they are at their best.

Kevin Jones
Virginia Tech
Running Back
6'0" 227 4.56
Comparison: Edgerrin James

Strength: A supreme athlete, one of the fastest backs I've seen in quite some time. Can take it to the house every time he touches the football, even in the NFL. Very quick to the hole, yet staying under control and patient, finds cutback lanes and accelerates to them. Makes sharp cuts, maintains a great base, and explodes off his plant. Has an array of moves and can make defenders miss with quick change of direction skills. Is elusive at the 2nd level of the defense, tough to wrap up in space. Extremely elusive back who has a 2nd gear that few defenders can match. Excels at outside running, has the speed to turn the corner and is quick to turn up field. Does a great job of finding lanes and bursting up field when the defense is strung out. Shows good ability between the tackles. Is a deceptively tough, willing inside runner who does an adaquate job picking up the tough yards. Runs with a low pad level and falls forward while keeping his legs churning to pick up extra yardage.

Weakness: Has very little experience as a receiver and it definitely showed on film. The few times Jones did go out for a pass he looked extremely raw and this area will need a lot of coaching. His hands are solid but he needs to add all the aspects of being a receiving back. Although he can run the ball with power, it isn't his forte and it will lower his production if he's forced to pound the ball. Needs a lot of work as a blocker.

How does he fit in with the Silver and Blue?
The Lions finally filled the void at running back with a true homerun. Detroit got a supreme talent with Jones, and although his off season workouts weren't great, watching this kid on film I'm always impressed. Unfortunately for Lions fans, Frank Beamer didn't polish Kevin's receiving skills, but when he improves, Jones will create nightmarish matchups with linebackers in the passing game. Kevin is the first back taken in the first round by the Lions in over 15 years, the last back taken that early was this one guy named Sanders...he was pretty good.

Teddy Lehman
Outside Linebacker
6'2" 240 4.56
Comparison: John Mobley

Strength: A complete package at linebacker, shows all the intangibles -size, speed and intelligence. Well built frame and outstanding overall strength. Plays very well against the run, steps up and fills the gaps and gets over trash making his way to the play. Has the ability to reach the flanks, takes good pursuit angles to the ball and is a hard player to escape from. A true sideline to sideline player. Does an excellent job of reading and diagnosing a play and gets a good jump on the ball. Is an extremely physical player who can lay the wood to any NFL back. Is a text book tackler, wraps up and drags down consistently. Shows good awareness in pass coverage and is a solid linebacker in zone coverage.

Weakness: Needs to stay more disciplined in pursuit, will sometimes overrun the play and tends to "head hunt" instead of going for the sure tackle. I was never impressed with his ability to play man against tight ends and he is somewhat of a liability in those situations. Is only an average player when not protected by the line and is very poor at shedding blocks.

How does he fit in with the Silver and Blue?
Teddy Lehman can play Will, Mike, and Sam linebacker but would fit best in the vacated weakside position. Having Lehman will give them greater flexibility at linebacker because he is so interchangeable. Teddy will most certainly be a starter from day one and is a great combo with last years steal Boss Bailey.

Keith Smith
McNeese State
6'0" 200 4.50
Comparison: Samari Rolle/ taller Dre' Bly

Strength: Smith is one of the best corners in the draft in my opinion, his athletic ability is second to none. Has an optimum frame and bulk. Is effective in zone coverage, has great range-covers a ton of ground and has excellent awareness and break to the ball. Reads the play well, anticipates, and doesn't get beat by pump fakes. Great pass drop, smooth back pedal and fluid hips and turn movement, doesn't lose speed on his transition. Simply does not get beat deep and can keep up with ANY receiver on the deep ball. Closes on the ball extremely well, has acceleration of his plant and drives to the play, timing up his hits well. I talked to Keith's coach Tommy Tate over the fall and he could not say enough about Keith's work ethic and dedication in the film room. Plays alot faster than his 40 time almost to the point that it's meaningless.

Weakness: Lacks a lot of strength and is a non factor in run support. Is easily ridden out of the play if a bigger player gets leverage on him. Any thoughts by Lions fans of Smith playing safety should be erased, he is a willing player but just does not possess the physical attributes to play the safety position. Tackling skills need work and doesn't have the ability to jam receivers off the line. Small school background scared teams off.

How does he fit in with the Silver and Blue?
Keith Smith is a real treat to watch, and in my opinion should surprise Lions fans on how quickly he is able to contribute. Keith is a total professional and shows the determination to continue improving. Although the Lions still had needs elsewhere the pick makes a lot of sense considering that corners Chris Cash and Andre Goodman are coming off serious injuries and Otis Smith was lost in free agency. Smith is a top five corner in this years class and has all the skills to become a starter one day in this league. For the mean time, Smith should challenge for the nickel position because of his ability to stick on even the fastest receivers like glue. I've seen Keith on film alot and I really believe he will be the nickelback for this team once the season starts.

Alex Lewis
Comparison: Roosevelt Colvin

Strength: The three things weakside linebackers must be able to do are shed blocks, pursue sideline to sideline and play well in coverage, and Alex does a solid job in each area. Very athletic, so much so that he has the physical attributes to play safety. Decent against against the inside run, steps up and fills well when he takes the correct angles and has the ability to take on blockers. Does well against the outside run, pursues the play well and has the speed to defend sideline to sideline and does an adequate job of warding off blockers in space. Is an effective blitzer who uses good rush moves and quickness to beat blockers. Looks much more improved in his diagnose skills on film his senior year and this area is starting to become a strong point for him. Has excellent range in pass defense and is effective when manned up against tight ends.

Weakness: Has a tendency to miss read running lanes and gets trapped in the wrong running gap. Doesn't consistently take correct angles to the action and will get caught up in trash over the middle. Doesn't have change of direction skills and will be taken out of the play if he takes a false step. Needs to play less aggressively and more under control.

How does he fit in with the Silver and Blue?

I didn't like this pick at first but I've warmed to it. I would have rather seen Jason Shivers, Nathaniel Adibi or Nick Leckey taken here but still, Lewis is a solid pick. Most fans wanted Chad Lavalais but he just does not fit into the Lions system. Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron likes big run stuffers in the middle and Lavalais is a gap shooting pass rusher so it just doesn't work. As for Lewis I think he gives the Lions alot. One, he gives the team flexibility to slide Lehman over to Mike linebacker when Earl Holmes years here are done and Lewis would start on the weakside. Two, he gives the team an excellent blitzer and pass rusher for the mean time, also he can be substituted in on passing situations. Lewis should also get a look at strong safety but probably won't stick there. In my opinion, Lewis could be a starter down the line for the team because of his potential but will be a solid backup and contributor for the meantime.

Kelly Butler

Strength: Is a bull in the running game. Shows good pop off the line and gets into defenders quickly. Totally obilerates undersized defenders and engulfs slower ends. Gets excellent leverage and hand placement and it's very difficult for defenders to disengage him. Finshes blocks well, gets his legs churning and can really move the pile. Has great overall strength, stays low and drives with his powerful lower body. Solid in pass protection, is a great anchor on the right side and is tenacious. Keeps defenders off his body and gets good separation. Is a very hard working kid with a ton of expierence and great attitude.

Weakness: Is limited athletically. Doesn't have the great mobility of a pass protector and struggles with quicker defensive ends who can exploit his lack of ablity to be light on his feet. Needs to play with a better base and balance, lunges at defenders alot in pass protection and loses alot of strength by overextending.

How does he fit in with the Silver and Blue?
I have no idea why Kelly Butler fell so far in the draft, he had solid workouts and doesn't have a huge weakness for teams to sour on. He's doesn't have great mobility but Kelly is an incredible run blocker who will one day start for an NFL franchise, possibly Detroit. In my opinion Stockar McDougal may eventually have to move to guard to make room for Butler at tackle. Make no mistake Lions fans, Kelly Butler is an excellent prospect and quite the steal!

Overall- The Lions filled up some key voids in the free agent market and added four possible starters. Damien Woody adds a big boost to an oline that needed a proven push up the middle and help in the run game. Bryant may be the dark horse signing, he may not be a shut down #1 corner, but he should lock up the #2 slot. Streets is a threat from the slot and adds a reliable option to an offense he is already familiar with. Loverne may not be starter quality, but he should help out in short yardage situations and provide depth to a position that really needed some. Marion is a nice stop gap at free safety, but his offseason issues must be resolved before hes cleared to play. The team could have added another guard or defensive end, but overall they filled their needs well in the "first" free agent signing period. The Lions draft was very successful as well, the best in the NFL for the second year in a row. Roy Williams definetly takes the potential of the offense to an elite level and Kevin Jones finally gives the team a supremely talented back. Teddy Lehman fills the void at weakside linebacker and adds another star on defense. Keith Smith is an underated pick in my opinion, he gives the team security at cornerback and can contribute immediately. Alex Lewis is another player with potential and the ability to help out early. Kelly Butler completed the great draft by giving the team a true steal in the sixth round and he should challenge for some playing time because of his ability to dominate in the run game.

Offseason Grade= A-

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