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By: Adrian Donofrio
LionsFans.com Staff Writer
The expansion draft talk has flared up, and the rumors are flying. The over-payed veteran stars of yesterday are up for bids, all for the Houton Texans taking. But buried under the heavy salaries and geritol are some young up-and-comers. One of them may be Charlie Batch. He did well this year, before injury. It's probably a good bet he'd do a decent job if you gave him an offensive line that will protect him well, job security and maybe a few more pads. But Lions' head coach Marty Mornhinweg is taking a chance on exposing him.
Another gamble Mornhinweg is taking is exposing starting running back James Stewart. He did an adequate job this year when he was in, and had a career year two years ago, his first in Detroit. Unfortunately, it was his only healthy year he's had. Couple that and his huge salary that hovers around 5 million a year, and you have a candidate for the expansion list. However, there is nobody behind Stewart who can start if he gets chosen. Even one of his backups, Rueben Droughns, was exposed. Another risk, but could these risks be Marty Mornhinweg's Magic 8-Ball?
You've seen them before, at a local department store. Those famous magic 8-balls. There always in battered and worn boxes from being shaken by heavy-handed children. They're pure chance, but may sway your next decision. Case in point: Marty Mornhinweg.
Marty was faced with a ton of difficult decisions in his first year as a Head Coach, and even he'd agree that some of the choices he made were the wrong ones. So why not have someone else make them for you? Enter: the Houston Texans.
The next major series of decisions will be in the form of the NFL College draft. Marty knows as well as anyone that this draft could be the most important one for Detroit's future. No pressure, right? Not with a little help. With holes all over the team, where do you start? Houston may help Marty and Co. make the decision.
If Houston takes James Stewart, then Marty will more than likely draft a running back. He's been saying for quite some time that he wants an offensive playmaker. Could that come in the form of a shifty, speedy type running back? It would be ludicrous not to pick a good running back if Stewart was chosed by the Texans, so that's one obvious decision right there.
If Charlie Batch is chosen, that essentially makes Mike McMahon the starter for the next campaign. (Okay, so he has to beat Ty Detmer in camp, but how hard can it be?) If Marty drafts a quarterback high, than you can go ahead and throw away your hopes for Marty Mornhinweg and Matt Millen directing the team in the right direction. Exposing Charlie Batch would, and SHOULD end all quarterback controversy, and give Marty's golden child McMahon the quarterback job for his to lose, all by himself, or take a genuine opportunity and make himself Detroit's franchise player.
If Kurt Schulz gets chosen, then that tells you to draft a safety. Even though Detroit is expected to anyhow, it would change the status from 'probably' to 'painfully obvious' as far as drafting a safety goes.
If any of the players get chosen, especially Stewart or Batch, that also gives the front office some much-needed cap relief.
There's no doubt that the expansion draft will influence the way we draft. Marty has shaken his Magic 8-Ball enough this year, now he's given it to Houston, and when it's returned, it should give us a better idea how to draft, and give us an idea of how close 'the future' is.