Here are Detroit's 2007 rankings from Football Outsiders and NFL.com :
What really stood out was that although former offensive coordinator Mike Martz avoided running plays with a passion last season, Detroit was just below average at running the football. They were a better passing team, but only slightly. The NFL official stats are weighed down by Detroit's severe lack of running plays overall. While the offense was almost average, anyway you look at the defense, it was one of the worst in the NFL.
Again I'm only looking at the first four rounds (first three with Detroit since they had no 4th round pick) because everyone after that is a longshot.
|1st Round (17)||RT Gosder Cherlius|
|2nd Round (45)||LB Jordon Dizon|
|3rd Round (64)||RB Kevin Smith|
|3rd Round (87)||DT Andre Fluellen|
|3rd Round (92)||LB Cliff Avril|
They needed a lot of help on defense, and used 3 of their top 5 picks for defenders, but spent their top pick on an offensive player. Two of those picks were on linebackers, instead of maybe spreading it around and using one of those picks for the secondary, which would have been better. This draft was rich in cornerbacks and Detroit didn't select a single one, but the NFC North is an odd division wherein arguably the best QB has never started a single NFL game, so this might not hurt them.
Selecting RT Gosder Cherlius was seen by many as an odd move, but they lost RT Damian Woody in free agency, and whoever was his awful backup that was absolutely destroyed by DE Aaron Kampman last Thanksgiving has no business playing in the NFL. This was a black hole on their offensive line, and at least they've addressed it. Plus there's no reason Cherlius shouldn't be a solid right tackle. They absolutely had to have a tackle with one of their top picks.
I'm not pretending to be a scout, but LB Jordon Dizon's height at 6'0" really stands out. No matter what scheme, it seems universal that all teams like tall linebackers. Seeing a 6'0" linebacker is like seeing a 6'0" quarterback. You wonder if he's going to be able to see over the line of scrimmage.
They also selected LB Cliff Avril in the 3rd round. No matter if these guys are going to make it or not, Detroit had to add some bodies at linebacker. Former starter LB Boss Bailey is now in Denver, and former Packer LB Paris Lenon has been starting way too much for Detroit.
RB Kevin Smith enters the league with a lot of carries on his body, more than your typical rookie, so he's likely to have a short shelf life, and his time is now. Luckily for Smith, Detroit has a big hole since their two top running backs from last season, RB T.J. Duckett and RB Kevin Jones, are gone, so they need Smith to produce now. They had to have another running back to compete for the starting job.
They also selected DT Andre Fluellen in the 3rd round, and they badly needed another body in the middle of the line after the trade of DT Shaun Rogers to Cleveland.
Overall this was a good draft for Detroit, although it was reactionary. They had to find replacements for departed veterans at running back, right tackle, defensive tackle, and linebacker, and those are the positions where they spent their early draft choices. They could still stand to improve elsewhere on an offensive line that gave up a ton of sacks and improve their pass rush, but they weren't going to fix all their problems in one draft. It's easy to pick on Matt Millen and his love of wide receivers, but he did what he had to do in 2008.