Draftmas comes ever closer, only two more days in fact. As we near the day in which the immediate future of the Lions franchise is charted I have a warning at the bottom. Even the most highly touted draft picks are often failures, and it is best to keep that in mind as you engage other fans. We should at least wait until they’ve got Lions jerseys on before becoming fanboys. One of your favorite players is probably going to become a Packer this draftmas.
Six Draftmas Subplots
- Do teams really care about off the field issues? There is a possibility for each round in which teams can show their total disregard for feminism and drug laws, or demonstrate their belief that everyone should get a second chance depending on your perspective. Where will Joe Mixon, Dede Westbrook, Avery Moss, and Garrett Bolles go in the draft? That doesn’t even include the players with questionable friends and no record. What has the effect of Aaron Hernandez tragic fall been on teams? I am guessing not much.
- When will the runs on corners come? How many runs will there be? There are 20 defensive backs that I could see going in the first two rounds. Will they start flying off the board before the Lions first pick? Will it be between their first and second round picks?
- How high will the four starting tackles in the draft go? I have Ryan Ramczyk, Garret Bolles, Corey Robinson and Taylor Moton as the only immediate starters at tackle, and of them, only Bolles is ideally a left tackle. Normally the top tackle goes in the first ten picks, but there are none worthy of going that high in 2017. The more that go early, the better it is for the Lions.
- How many QBs in the early? Three to five quarterbacks could go in the first round. Ideally, the Lions have seen at least three come off the board before their first pick, and six before their second. I could see four: Trubisky, Mahomes, Watson, and Kizer gone before pick 21, Other traditional highly selected positions like offensive tackle and wide receiver lack the usual talent at the top of the draft. Davis Webb and Nathan Peterman have each received late buzz as possible late first-round surprises as well.
- How many RBs in the early picks? I believe that Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, and Dalvin Cook will all be gone at 21. but how many running backs go in the first round? Alvin Kamara, Joe Mixon, and Deonte Foreman seem like the most likely candidates to be gone before the Lions pick at 53. Kareem hunt is a player everyone loves on day three, which usually means he is not going on day three.
- What is Haason Reddick? Everyone loved what he was able to do for a few days in Mobile, and then on one day in Indianapolis. How high will a few workouts push a player with no tape at his future position in the NFL? Reddick is a huge risk for the same reason I called Trubisky a likely bust yesterday.
Five Late Round Draftmas Gems
Tarik Cohen, RB, North Carolina A&T
As far as cool nicknames go, “the human joystick” ranks highly this draftmas. Cohen draws comparisons to Darren Sproles because of his size and agility, but a much closer comparison is Warrick Dunn. Cohen is never going to be a three-down back in the NFL and may need to move to the slot for his offensive position. However, as a kick returner, Cohen is without peers in the later rounds of the draft. His ability to read kick coverage and set up blockers in front of him is second only to the top tier of return men in this class.
Elijah McGuire, RB, Louisiana-Lafayette
He had a foot injury as a senior and his production dropped, which may take Mcguire entirely out of the draft. As a junior McGuire was a dynamic and powerful runner whose acceleration and burst through the hole reminded me of Arian Foster. He also has great hands and may have been better cast as a slot receiver. McGuire is not a tackle breaker or a power back, but if he regains his junior form he has a chance to make a team. He would excel in the Lions stretch zone rushing attack.
James Conner, RB, Pitt
The mold for a modern power back, Conner is a mentally tough team leader. His explosion and speed numbers at the combine are far from elite. That serves as the primary reason that he is a day three prospect. Conner would bring the Lions a strictly between the tackles runner and that would require a significant change to their running scheme. Frankly though, what they were doing last year didn’t work and that’s not all on the running backs. Conner is the modern “three yards and a cloud of dust” running back, who can punish defenses and help preserve leads.
Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M
Reynolds it a typically long and lean receiver who has above average athleticism. his technique on contested balls, blocking out defenders with his body matches with his lightning quick releases on slants make him a deadly red zone target. He needs to build functional strength if not put on bulk in order to get off press coverage, which will push him to day three. He also has only 4.5 speed, which limits his downfield ability.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Northern Illinois
At 6’4″ and 218 lbs with 4.5 speed; Golladay needs to work on his route running but has all the physical tools to make an impact at the NFL level. Golladay transferred schools in the middle of his collegiate career due to a coaching change at North Dakota. After stepping up in competition level, he torched the MAC for 2,285 yards in two seasons. His long strides make it difficult for corners playing off to judge his speed. This is a trait that served Calvin Johnson well. He is clearly not on that level, but Golladay would add the big bodied red zone target the Lions lack.
Four Mock Drafts
Kyle Crabbs of fanragsports.com has the Lions selecting LB Jarrad Davis out of Florida with the 21st pick. Matt Miller of bleacherreport.com has given the Lions TE David Njoku of Miami. Luke Easterling of Draftwire.com added DE Jordan Willis of Kansas State to the tally. USA Today’s Lorenzo Reyes puts another tick beside David Njoku’s name. Because of Miller and Reyes, we have a new leader for the Lions pick in 2017:
- Njoku 3
- Watt 2
- Charlton 2
- Davis 2
- Willis 1
- Foster 1
- Reddick 1
Three Great Draftmas Snacks
Wings are pretty much the ultimate draftmas celebration food. I know I am likely to inhale 20-30 of them Thursday night. While dousing them in Franks Red Hot is a viable option, I like to make my own sauces for wings. It doesn’t take long, and everything tastes better when you get to say you made it yourself. Here are some homemade sauces I think you’ll enjoy.
Buffalo Wing Sauce
- 15 fresh jalapeño peppers (not from a jar in other words)
- 1 cup of vinegar
- 3 cloves of minced garlic
- You’re going to want to use rubber gloves for this. Also if you wear contacts, take them out beforehand and wear those glasses you keep around for the rest of the day. You could also just wear safety goggles. If some of this splashes in your eye, your hands will be covered in hot sauce and a flaming contact lens will be inside your face. That’s not a great situation. This is not a joke.
- Cut the tops off the peppers and then cut them in half lengthwise
- Dump the ingredients in a pot and boil them on high for about ten minutes, until the peppers are soft.
- Pour all of it into a food processor and blend it until it’s all liquefied. a hand mixer in a bowl will also work, but likely leave a few chunks that need to be filtered out.
If you want extra heat, add a habañero pepper. If you want a more mild sauce, replace five of the jalapeños with two green peppers cut into quarters with seeds removed. Swapping two or three jalapeños with chipotle peppers will give you a smokier flavor. On a safety note: when washing your hands after making this, apply the soap directly before the water. Then use something to actively scrub them before rinsing. If this gets in your eye, flush the eye under the tap for at least five minutes and go to the hospital.
- 1 can of ground tomatoes
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp celery salt
- 1/8 tsp mustard powder
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Mix all that in a pot and heat it on about medium high heat. Then stir as required to keep it from burning to your pot.
- When the mixture has reduced by half you have ketchup, one of the three actual ingredients to commercial style BBQ sauce. Alternatively, this could be done overnight in a slow cooker on high with the lid off for about 10 hours. An additional alternative would be to just use ketchup.
- For every cup of liquid you have, add 1/6 cup of mustard and then 1/6 cup of honey.
- Blend the whole thing up in a food processor, or with a hand mixer in a bowl, or with a spoon if you just used Heinz.
For variations on the theme, add 1 tsp of liquid smoke per cup, and replace the honey with brown sugar to get hickory BBQ sauce. Add two shots of bourbon to the ketchup mix then 25% more honey at the end while reducing the mustard by 25% to get honey bourbon BBQ sauce. Alternatively, adding a habañero to the ketchup mix will give you a spicy BBQ sauce.
Personally, I like to grill my draftmas wings, because I don’t own a deep fryer and pan fried wings are terrible. You can do them in the oven as well, it’s just my opinion that all meat tastes better when cooked over a fire of some kind. In any case, if you’re using these sauces you’re not tasting the chicken all that much anyway, just toss the wings in the sauce after they’re cooked.
Two First Round Draftmas Busts
Cunningham is a lethal combination of weak and slow that is intolerable for an NFL linebacker coach. Cunningham has the skill set of a sub package coverage specialist linebacker. That’s something that should be taken on day three, not the first round. He also lacks the athletic ability to cover the entire field, which would be fine if he were able to fill a two down run stuffing specialist role. His skill set is the opposite of what would be required to do that, as he can not keep blockers from engaging him despite his extremely long arms. in short he is an odd combination of disparate traits that doesn’t combine into a usable package.
Foster gets stingers. If you’ve never had one the sensations they are associated with are crippling pain and numbness. These come from trauma to the head and neck. It is an impact related spinal injury that usually symptomizes in other parts of the body, normally the arms. The way he hits puts his neck and head at risk. Foster’s talent is unquestionable. He is the best linebacker in the draft. He also recently told the press that he had failed a drug test at the combine. There have also been reports that his incident at the combine was an attempt to buy himself more time before getting his medical check.
And One Inconvenient Draftmas Truth
The player you love in this draft has about a 43% chance of being a bust. The 2011 draft class had 19 teams pick up their first round option on their picks. The 2012 draft class had 18 of 32 teams do the same. The 2013 draft class had 18 teams pick up their fifth-year option or extend their player early. This is where that 43% number is derived. This close to the draft, only nine teams have picked up the fifth-year option of their picks from the 2014 draft. The deadline to do so looms shortly after the draft concludes. The only reason not to exercise the option is that the teams are hoping to set up a scenario where they do not have to. Either an extension or a draft replacement qualifies as that.
Each year a few teams extend their picks because they lack a replacement, rather than because they want to keep the player. Teams do not keep the player following his fifth year. Riley Reiff is a prime example that everyone reading this should be familiar with. The Lions swapped Reiff for Rick Wagner. The Lions exercised the option but then moved on from the player.