Trojan War Room: Drafting the USC duo with their first two picks were both masterful moves by the Lions.
By Doug Warren
For the second year in a row, the Detroit Lions made the most of their first two draft choices.
If there are two things that the Lions have needed over the last four years its been playmakers and leadership. Last season, the Lions chose big play Texas wide receiver Roy Williams with the 7th overall pick and then moved up into the first round to take Virginia Tech running back Kevin Jones with the 30th selection.
Williams and Jones were Detroits best two offensive players last season. They were both playmakers and, at times, even leaders demanding the ball and questioning some of the dubious playcalling that, all too often, failed to utilize them.
It was clear that by the end of the season, the Lions needed more players and leaders like Jones and Williams if they were to end the NFLs second-longest championship drought.
Four-and-a-half months later, it looks like Matt Millen and Steve Mariucci have done just that.
Mike Williams was the Right Choice.
First on Saturday afternoon, with the tenth-overall selection, the Lions took a player whom I consider the second best player in the entire draft (after QB Alex Smith); former USC wideout Mike Williams. Williams was a player that the Lions brass didnt expect to see on the board when their turn came. When he was there though, there was little if any hesitation that he was the right choice.
Williams was simply the best player available at that spot. He is better than Texas LB Derrick Johnson, better than Wisconsin DE Erasmus James, better than Georgia DE David Pollack, better than Maryland DE/OLB Shawne Merriman.
When all is said and done, Mike Williams might even be better than Roy Williams and Charles Rogers.
In this era of high flying flag-football where the NFL is outlawing tackling above the armpits, any kind of downfield contact and essentially protecting QBs like the Shroud of Turin, it was a no-brainer. Mike Williams is a 64," 230 pound player who dominated his opponents in college. He set USCs career touchdown reception record (30) in just two seasons. When you consider that the Trojans have also produced NFL wideouts named Lynn Swann, Keyshawn Johnson and Johnnie Morton, that is saying something.
With the additions of veteran free agents offensive guards Damien Woody and Jeff DeMulling, quarterback Jeff Garcia, tight end Marcus Pollard and wide receiver Kevin Johnson, along with draft choices Kevin Jones, Roy Williams and a (hopefully) healthy Charles Rogers, over the last two seasons Mike Williams now joins the most talented offensive lineup the Lions have assembled since their record breaking season of 1995.
That of course was the year QB Scott Mitchell (4,338 yards, 32 TDs), WRs Herman Moore (123 catches, 1,686 yards, 14 TDs) and Brett Perriman (108 catches, 1,488 yards, 9 TDs) and a Hall of Famer named Barry Sanders (314 carries, 1,500 yards, 11 TDs), led the Lions of then-head coach Wayne Fontes to a 10-6 record and their third-straight trip to the playoffs (1993-95).
I know its hard to remember the playoffs around here right now, but I assure you it happened.
The Lions did the right thing by picking Mike Williams.
Now, if they can get either Joey Harrington or Jeff Garcia to play like Scott Mitchell then theyll really be onto something special.
Shaun Cody isnt Chopped Liver either.
The Lions got another break when USC DE/DT Shaun Cody slipped into the second round Saturday. The Lions traded their 2nd round choice (41st overall) and their 4th round pick (113th overall) to the Tennessee Titans to move up four spots to take Cody with the 37th overall choice.
Cody was a stalwart on the Trojans last two national championship teams. I felt that going into the draft he would be gone by the time that the Lions choice came up in the second round. I was not surprised that the Lions took a defensive lineman; although I felt that going into the draft that the Lions would take Codys USC teammate, DT Mike Patterson, with the 41st choice. Patterson (511" 292 pounds) was instead taken by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 31st overall pick in the first round, while Cody continued to slip down the board.
Cody and Patterson are very similar skill wise, with the only difference being that Cody (64" 292) is taller. Shaun Cody will excel alongside Pro Bowl DT Shaun Rogers in the Lions one-gap defensive scheme. While its possible that Cody could start by the end of August, he doesnt need to be. I expect him to work into the rotation slowly, sharing playing time with quality veteran DTs Dan Wilkinson and Marcus Bell. The fact that Cody has also played defensive end extensively for the Trojans will also help him get playing time. He is a quality replacement for the (probably) retiring Kelvin Pritchett and will help to make the Lions defensive line one of the leagues best next season.
On top of that, both Cody and Williams were leaders who performed at their best in big games. They were national championship winners as collegians and their swagger, work ethic and big game experience will add plenty to the efforts that Super Bowl winning veterans like Damien Woody and Dre Bly have been doing to change attitude, and in turn, the fortunes of this long underachieving franchise.
Questions or Comments: e-mail Doug at Lwarren12@juno.com