Yesterday we looked at the 2005 draft to see where the Washington Redskins and New Orelans Saints went wrong. Today we're heading to the 2006 draft to see what happened to the Detroit Lions with Rod Marinelli as head coach.
1.9 Detroit Lions- Ernie Sims, OLB, Florida State
Projected Mid-1st round pick
Despite a diminutive 5'11", 231 lb frame the Detroit Lions elected to roll the dice on a player who they believed would be a defensive leader, and help set the tone of their new, hard-nosed defense. This was a draft where linebackers were getting over-drafted, as the Green Bay Packers set the tone selecting AJ Hawk with the 5th overall pick. Numerous teams needed defensive leaders, and so teams reached.
Where the Lions went right: For one of the few times under GM Matt Millen the Lions decided to address an area of need, rather than adhere to their insane BPA plan which yielded three 1st round receivers. Also, Sims wasn't bad in his own right- he was just never anything special.
Where the Lions went wrong: Rod Marinelli fell in love with Sims... it's as simple as that. The former Tampa Bay defensive line coach was extolling Sims' virtues from the rooftop as he told the media he believed Sims was the next Derrick Brooks. He was unable to see the shortcomings of the small outside linebacker, or realize that while he was a serviceable player he wasn't anything special.
End Result: Sims is now a member of the Indianapolis Colts and has had a solid, but unremarkable career.
How the Panthers could make the same mistake: It's easy to get blinded by an average prospect if two or three aspects to their game rekindles feelings of fondness. In this way Iowa OT Riley Reiff would fit this bill. Though he has some echoes of former Chargers OL Marcus McNeil, he doesn't have the size or power. Try as some might, Reiff does not project as a franchise LT despite showing a meanness that head coaches (especially ones with Rivera's mindset) absolutely love. To project him as a violent, powerful blocker like Ryan Clady would be a serious misstep, and one the Panthers should avoid.
Second round after the jump
Projected mid-2nd round pick
Does this name ring a bell? That's right, Daniel is the identical twin brother of Josh who was the bust out of Nebraska we looked at yesterday in this exact same draft spot. That's right... identical twin, same school, same position, same pick, both out of the league. Freaky, huh?
Where the Lions went right: They looked to get a leader for their secondary after getting who they believed could lead their LB corps.
Where the Lions went wrong: The Lions fell for one of the oldest draft slip-ups in the book... the late riser. Bullocks had a rather unremarkable career at Nebraska, but was taken based on the perception of him growing exponentially in the NFL. He blew away teams in interviews, and put together a great combine which caused the Lions to overlook the tape and think Marinelli's defensive staff could whip him into shape.
End Result: Bullocks was cut in 2010, the 40th cut draft pick under Matt Millen's reign.
How the Panthers could make the same mistake: It pains me to say (because I like him so much), but the player who fits this bill in 2012 is West Virginia LB Bruce Irvin. While I believe Irvin is a deadly pass rusher, he's really quite pedestrian in the other areas of his game. Prior to Indy he was looking like a 3rd or 4th round pick based on film, but now has risen to a 2nd round prospect. I'd love Irvin in that 3-4 range, but as a 2nd rounder he'd be a late rising reach who would be a 3rd down specialist at best.