(Independent scout and draft expert Josh Liskiewitz will contribute regularly to RoarReport.com in the days, weeks and months leading up to the annual NFL draft. To determine Josh's street cred, check his bio beneath the article -- Thanks, Ed.)
Despite his battles to stay healthy, Matthew Stafford is clearly the franchise QB going forward. However, with Shaun Hill signed thru 2011, Detroit has a decision to make in regards to No. 3 QB Drew Stanton.
Stanton’s contract is up, and while he won’t be going anywhere with the expectation of being a starter, he should garner interest from teams looking for an experienced backup. His two wins in 2010 certainly showed that he is making progress, but the question will be whether or not Detroit is confident enough in his skill set to make him the long term understudy to Stafford, and willing to invest a significant amount of money in all three quarterbacks for 2011.
Regardless of what they decide to do with Stafford, Detroit should entertain the idea of drafting a developmental QB late in the draft. Some scouts believe that a QB should be drafted late every year. The logic behind this is simply that at some point the team is bound to hit on a prospect, at which point they have either found a franchise QB on the cheap or gained significant trade leverage. The Lions could stumble upon a late round gem with a physically gifted talent like Idaho’s Nathan Enderle, or a heady intelligent prospect that simply needs to develop physically, like Alabama’s Greg McElroy.
Expect Detroit to look for help at RB again this off-season, as the Lions look to improve upon their 23rd ranked rushing offense. Jahvid Best is clearly an explosive talent, but at the same time cannot be relied upon to take the bulk of the carries between the tackles. Kevin Smith hasn’t been able to stay healthy, and veteran Maurice Morris is best suited to be the #3 ball carrier, capable of getting spot carries and contributing on 3rd down.
This year’s free agent class is rich with talented options. While household names like DeAngelo Williams and Ronnie Brown will garner fan interest, it makes more fiscal sense for Detroit to target a lesser known bruiser like Oakland’s Michael Bush or Atlanta’s Jason Snelling.
While Detroit could look to the draft again to fill their need, the 2010 season certainly proved that its not necessary to spend high picks in order to get premium production – Only 6 of the top 18 backs in 2010 in terms of rushing yards were first round picks. Maryland’s Da’Rel Scott is the player to watch next week in Orlando during East West Shrine Game practices.
Another name to keep an eye on is USC FB Stanley Havili. He has a surprising combination of power and quickness when running between the tackles, as well as the versatility to be a threat as a receiver. He would be the perfect solution to the inevitable departure of Jerome Felton.
Brandon Pettigrew made huge strides in year two, demonstrating proficiency not only in the receiving game, but also as a blocker. After a hot opening month of the season Tony Scheffler received a three year contract extension in October, assuring that the Lions will have one of the top TE duos in the NFC for years to come. Solid No. 3 man Will Heller enters year two of his three year contract, and with other developmental prospects in the fold like Joe Jon Finley and Richard Dickson, this may be the one position for Detroit that does not see turnover this off-season.
Josh Liskiewitz has been an independent scout for four years, the last two with GM Jr as a college scout. He is a self professed "film junkie," watching upwards of 50 hours of film per week year round on hundreds of NFL prospects. He credits Russ Lande, former NFL scout and founder and president of GM Jr Scouting LLC, with aiding in the development of his foundation in scouting and unique perspective on football.