Steuber's Draft Mailbag

Scout.com's NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber answers some questions from his inbox. Steuber discusses the Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles potential draft plans, and touches on how the '09 running back class compares to the '08 running back class. You've got mail.


Detroit fans are trying to believe in the Lions, but year after year they’re set up for disappointment.
Domenic Centofanti/Getty Images

Q: I’m a lifelong Detroit Lions fan, and it seems apparent that they will finish with the worst record in the league and hold the first pick in next year’s draft. What do you think the Lions will do in the first round; address their pitiful passing attack, upgrade their offensive line or concentrate on the worst defense I’ve ever seen? – George from Michigan


Oher would provide the Lions with the security upfront to go ahead and confidently identify its franchise QB of the future.
Ole Miss Athletics

A: I have to say that I feel bad for Lions fans and the fact that they’ve endured a franchise that’s so inept in finding an identity and putting a capable product on the field that would excite a great sports city like Detroit. It’s sad that the Lions haven’t had a winning season since 2000 and a double-digit win season since 1995 and have had more draft day blunders than any other franchise in the NFL. But the one constant that always comes up when talking to Lions fans is their annual appearance in the top-ten of the NFL Draft; congratulations on another great season…

The three options that you mentioned are all viable and warrant extreme attention from the front office. Having two first round picks (the Lions acquired the Dallas Cowboys first round pick in the Roy Williams trade) next April puts the Lions in a favorable situation. If the Lions finish the season with the worst record and hold the No. 1 pick in the draft, they will have a tough decision to make between one of the top offensive tackles or quarterbacks. Alabama’s Andre Smith, who’s a junior, and Mississippi’s Michael Oher are the top two OTs in the country and possess the physical tools the Lions would love to rebuild their offensive line around.

Although, selecting a young quarterback like Georgia’s Matthew Stafford (if he declares) or Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford (if he declares) is a possibility, especially if the Lions decide to bring in a new head coach next season. It’s been a slow process bringing 2007 second round pick Drew Stanton along, as he’s dealt with injuries since being drafted. With Stanton’s uncertain future in Detroit, a new regime will likely want to bring in a hand picked signal caller.

The Lions second first round pick will likely be in the 20’s, and at that point, it comes down to the best available player. I personally believe that the Lions should select Oher with their first pick and draft a quarterback later in the round or address their defense. The Lions could upgrade a lot of positions on defense, but no position needs more help than their secondary. There will be a lot of options at cornerback towards the end of the first round; some of the top cornerbacks between picks 21 – 32 will be Wake Forest’s Alphonso Smith, Cincinnati’s Mike Mickens, Virginia Tech’s Victor Harris and Vanderbilt’s D.J. Moore (if he declares).

If the Lions come out of the first round with Oher and Mickens; those are two cornerstone players that will revitalize a franchise searching for salvation. 

 

Q: The 2008 draft class has produced some of the best up-and-coming running back talent in recent years. Is the running back class for the 2009 draft as strong or weaker? – Steve from Boston


Only a redshirt sophomore, Moreno can potentially headline a ’09 running back class that will rival the ’08 class.
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

A: The ’08 running back class has been phenomenal, and when it’s all said and done, it will probably be the best running back class of all time. To think that there will be another class like that one the ensuing year is wishful thinking. But, just like last year’s draft, the ’09 draft is dependant upon the underclassmen who make themselves available to NFL teams, and if a majority of them declare, it will be a solid class.

Last year, Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Stewart, Jamaal Charles, Ray Rice, Kevin Smith and Steve Slaton declared for the draft following their junior campaigns. This season, players like Chris Wells (Ohio State), Knowshon Moreno (Georgia), LeSean McCoy (Pittsburgh), Shonn Greene (Iowa), C.J. Spiller (Clemson) and Donald Brown (Connecticut) face the same decision.

The senior running backs that will be available next April are not nearly as strong as the underclassmen. The top senior available is Michigan State’s Javon Ringer. After Ringer, James Davis (Clemson), Arian Foster (Tennessee), Rashad Jennings (Liberty) and Jeremiah Johnson (Oregon) are the best available.

If all of the aforementioned underclassmen running backs declare for next year’s draft, the ’09 class has an opportunity to rival the ’08 class. But without the infusion of the underclassmen, the ’09 class is extremely weak.

 

Q: The Chiefs inability to rush the passer has been frustrating, and it’s something they desperately have to address during the offseason. Are there any standout pass rushers you foresee the Chiefs drafting? – Casey from K.C.


The Chiefs missed out on Matt Ryan in ’08, but if Bradford is available will they choose a pass rusher over a franchise QB?
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

A: I guess those three sacks that Jared Allen had on Sunday night didn’t make you too happy, considering he recorded half the sacks the entire defense has produced this season. Only having six sacks at this point in the season is ridiculous, and a big reason for the lack of production is because of the departure of Allen during the offseason. He was the target the opposition focused on, and it allowed the other players on the defensive line to have success.

As far as the draft and the potential pass rushers who may be available; there will be a lot to choose from in the first round. Georgia Tech’s Michael Johnson, TexasBrian Orakpo and Florida State’s Everette Brown (if he declares) are all worthy of a top-ten pick. However, the Chiefs have to decide if Tyler Thigpen or Brodie Croyle are worthy of consideration as being their quarterback of the future. I don’t think they are, and with Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford potentially being available, the Chiefs have to consider making a move for one of them given the success Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco have had this season as rookie starters.

Another scenario could have the Chiefs move down in the first round, pick up more draft picks and upgrade their linebacker core with James Laurinaitis (Ohio State), Rey Maualuga (USC) or Aaron Curry (Wake Forest).

 

Q: It seems that the Eagles are a long shot to make the playoffs this season and they have a lot of decisions to make at the end of the year, especially at quarterback. They have two first round picks next year and in the past two drafts have traded out of the first round. Please tell me they won’t trade these two first round picks for more second and third round picks; I want two starters with those picks or one superstar they packaged to move up for. What do you think they will do? – James from Philly

A: There are a lot of areas the Eagles have to address: OL, TE, RB, FB and FS. The biggest concern for the Eagles is their inability to convert in short yardage situations. A professional football team should be able to move the chains on a 3rd and 2, or if it’s late in the game and they have to go for a 4th and 1, they should make it. But the Eagles have been the most unreliable team in those situations this season.


The Eagles have a lot of holes to fill, but adding youth and depth on the O-Line is a must. Is Monroe the answer?
Virginia Athletics

Trading out of the first round in consecutive seasons is absurd, especially now that you see the holes and depth issues this team has realized. I think using both first round picks next year is a possibility, but as we’ve seen in years past, the Eagles are not against trading up or down in the first round. I think if they identify a player they want, they will move up to get him. Next year’s draft is deep at the offensive tackle position and there will be players that will peak their interest. Virginia OT Eugene Monroe will intrigue the Eagles as he can play either guard or tackle, but he will be targeted as the long-term replacement for Tra Thomas. Monroe will fall between No. 7 – 15, and the Eagles will have to get creative to have a chance at him.

At this time, the Eagles hold the 16th pick in the first round, and they own the Carolina Panthers pick, which is at No. 30. If the Eagles hope to select one of the top tackles in the draft, they will have to break into the top ten and possibly as high as No. 6. According to the draft value chart, the No. 16 pick is worth 1,000 points and the No. 30 pick is worth 620 points; the 6th pick is worth 1,600 points. The Eagles have what it takes to move up in the draft and select a top tackle, but they may feel holding on to both picks will benefit them more in the long run.

In my most recent mock draft, which was released a month ago, I had the Eagles selecting USC safety Taylor Mays, who’s a junior, and Missouri TE Chase Coffman. If the Eagles came away with those two players in the draft, they would fill two immediate needs with players who can make an impact.

 

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: csteuber@scout.com.


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