10 Questions with Twentyman: Is it time to start drafting for need?

Posted Dec 15, 2012

Lions' Insider Tim Twentyman answers questions from fans, including whether its time to start drafting for need and not best player available and whether the coaching staff should be evaluated.

Every week during the season I'll be participating in a live chat on sponsored by Huntington Bank. I can never get to all the questions in the chat because of the time constraints and the fact that I'm not the world's fastest typist. The nature of online chats don't lend themselves to expansive answers, either.

So, each week, I'll pick 10 good questions that I either didn't get to or would like to expand upon. I might also throw in a few here and there from my Twitter account, @ttwentyman.

Q. Is it time to stop drafting best player available and start drafting for need? From Scott W.

A. I understand the premise of the best player available philosophy, and I think it’s a good one in the right situations, but there has to be a balance between best available and need.

Riley Reiff is going to be a good player and it was pretty much a no-brainer to take the second best tackle available in the draft at No. 23.

The team didn’t address a glaring need in their secondary until the third round and later, though.

Maybe their evaluation didn’t have a player that warranted it at No. 54. Casey Hayward has turned into a great cornerback for the Packers and he was taken at No. 62.

I think the Ryan Broyles pick was a good one in the second round, and he’s going to be a very good player, but it didn’t make the Lions immediately better. It will down the road.

The Lions have to address specific needs if they’re going to get better this offseason. The Lions need at least one safety (maybe two), they need rush defensive ends (preferably with a little more size) and it wouldn’t hurt to address the cornerback position (even with Bill Bentley, Jonte Green and Chris Greenwood).

The Lions have a lot of needs, which is both good and bad when it comes to the draft. They should have a lot of options in the first couple rounds.

Q. Will Corey Williams be back next year? From Lynn

A. Well, Lynn, I think the Lions would like to have him back, but I’m not sure they can afford to pay a No. 3 defensive tackle nearly $5 million, which is close to what Williams made this season.

Make no mistake about it, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley are the future moving forward. Williams is a terrific locker room presence and has been a good mentor to a guys like Nick Fairley and Sammie Hill.

At 32, he’s still playing at a high level. He’s a good enough player that he can probably get a little more money to play elsewhere. Will he want to finish what he started here, though?

Q. With Titus Young's attitude do you think the Lions will give him another chance? From George

A. How many chances does a guy get?

I’m all for second chances, and Schwartz recently said that he was too, but there does come a point when enough is enough.

Young was on his third chance and didn’t make the most of it. He actually seemed more petulant.

I just don’t know how the Lions will be able to welcome him back. Maybe they will.

I’m not sure there’s a real big trade market out there, either.

Schwartz held Young accountable for his actions and Young has to pay the consequences.

Q. Should Jim Schwartz be on the hot seat? From Jim T.

A. Let me get this straight. There are some people out there who’d like to see a Lions team that’s been in every game they’ve played in this season and is one year removed from a 10-6 season to start over with a new coaching staff and a new system because of one step back.

Don't include me among them.

There have certainly been some missteps (the red flag vs. Texans) along the way, but penalties are down and Schwartz has held guys accountable for mistakes.

The Lions’ problems this season have been more about execution than anything else. They’ve been in every game they’ve played, which tells me they’ve been prepared. The difference between winning a close game and losing one is a handful of plays down the stretch. It's execution.

They executed plays down the stretch last season under the same coaching regime. This year they aren’t making the plays.

Q. Its funny how much things change over a year. Last year it seemed like everyone was saying Cliff Avril was a top DE in the league. Now just a complimentary piece? From Thiesen

A. Avril is a very good defensive end and will probably end up with double-digit sacks for a second consecutive season. He’s likely to get paid handsomely this offseason for that production, too.

Avril will be at his best, though, when he’s paired with another complimentary piece. Avril doesn’t dominate a game like a Julius Peppers or J.J Watt does. He is very good, but he could be great as a No. 2 paired with a physically gifted player on the other side.

Q. You wrote some good things about Patrick Edwards in training camp.  Any insight on his potential for next year? From ScottLA

A. You’re right. He made a lot of plays in training camp and I wasn’t the only one who was writing good things about him. The one caution I have with Edwards is that the production on the practice field didn’t translate into game action.

It seemed there was one great catch daily in training camp from Edwards. He was a guy making plays all over the field. Then we got to the preseason and he finished four preseason games with a combined four catches for 31 yards on 15 targets.

He earned a spot of the practice squad and was able to practice for a time before going on IR in mid-October. That will help him in the long run. The Lions will still be looking for an outside No. 2 receiver after the season. Edwards could throw his name in the hat.

Q. Pettigrew's injury aside, did Tony Scheffler do enough last week to steal his starting spot from him in future games? From A.J.

A. Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler are two very different kinds of tight ends. Scheffler is more of a down-the-field threat and the kinds of routes he runs show that.

Pettigrew is a much more physical player and is a better blocker who can work the middle of the field and make catches in traffic.

The two are really two different and I don’t think either one could play the others role effectively.

Q. Do you think we should toss out the Wide 9? From Brad J.

A. You have to be able to rush the passer in this league and then be able to cover. The Lions have the rush-the-passer part down; they now need the cover part.

The Wide 9 will work here if the Lions get two defensive ends that rush the passer. The Wide 9 is designed to collapse the pocket. It’s a defense, in my opinion, that needs all four rushers working in tandem; otherwise it’s susceptible to breakdowns. If one guy is out of a rush lane or doesn’t hold contain it can breakdown.

The other part of that is that you need physical corners who can cover man-to-man. The Wide 9 can be a great scheme with that combination.

The Lions don’t exclusively run a Wide 9, though, Brad, they do mix it up quite a bit.

It can be very effective with the right parts.

Q. The center/guard that they picked up before the season -- he was thought to have a lot of upside right? From Joe

A. The player you’re thinking of, Joe, is Bill Nagy, who the Lions picked up from the Cowboys on waivers. He’s had some ankle issues over the past couple years, and also had a history of injuries at Wisconsin, but is talented.

He can play both center and guard and is only 25-years old. He has starting experience and the coaches seem pretty high on him. They’re letting his ankle heal for a whole year and are hoping he can come in and provide an upgrade to the interior of their offensive line. Only time will tell if they’re right.
Q. Will K Jason Hanson be back next year or do they look for a cheaper option? From John

A. On talent alone he should be back. The guy has missed only three field goals all season, two of which have hit the upright.

He’s probably one of the team’s hardest workers and has been extremely loyal for 20 years.

But a lot like we talked about with Williams, I’m not sure the Lions can afford to pay Hanson in the range of the $2.55 million, which is what he made this year.