Chat with Michael Rothstein
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN NFL Nation Detroit Lions reporter Michael Rothstein drops by to chat and answer all of your Lions questions.
Rothstein joined ESPN.com in 2011 after covering the University of Michigan for AnnArbor.com, Notre Dame for the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette and a host of colleges for the Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, Va.). A Syracuse graduate and an East Meadow, N.Y. native, he lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Send your questions now and join Rothstein Tuesday at noon ET!
Michael Rothstein (12:01 PM)
Hey everyone, and welcome to the first post-draft Lions chat of 2014. Let's get right to some questions. Oh, and it's gorgeous here in Michigan for once.
Travis Katz (Chicago)
If Mathew Stafford doesn't succeed this season, given the new weapons around him, what do you think his future with the Lions is?
Michael Rothstein (12:03 PM)
That's a pretty good question, Travis. I'd say he better show improvement this season considering the players they have surrounded him with and the coaching staff they hired to work with him. At some point, if it isn't working with multiple coaching staffs and multiple rosters, you kind of have look at yourself. That said, the Lions have gone in with Stafford and he's not going anywhere for a couple of years at least -- success or not.
Do you think the Lions panicked drafting Swanson in the 3rd round after Richburg & Martin were drafted? Wasn't there another TE we could have taken instead? LOL
Michael Rothstein (12:04 PM)
There are always tight ends that can be taken, Steve. That said -- I don't think the Lions panicked with Swanson. If he was one of the top centers they had on their board and he was much higher rated than the other players left, it's a good pick. Plus, he can play guard so there is some versatility there. I have no problem with that pick.
Do you think the NFL would ever consider having the draft before the schedule release? This way they could set up some primetime matchups based on draft picks playing against each other.
Michael Rothstein (12:05 PM)
Probably not, although you can never be sure. For ticket-selling purposes and scheduling in cities, they have to kind of release the schedule when they do. There's a lot of machinations in there.
How much was Detroit offering to trade up to Cleveland's 4th place pick that Buffalo traded up to?
Michael Rothstein (12:07 PM)
Eric, that hasn't been known and likely won't be known -- as Mayhew isn't going to divulge that. He wouldn't even give a target number of undrafted free agents at first. He's very guarded with information. That said, the Lions were smart to not make the move if the asking price was what Buffalo offered.
So can/will Ebron and Pettigrew lineup on the field at the same time?
Michael Rothstein (12:08 PM)
Yes, a good amount, Greg. I think the standard formation might be two tight ends and two wide receivers now instead of what the Lions used to run under Scott Linehan, which was three wide receivers and Pettigrew somewhere.
Is that center they drafted any good?
Michael Rothstein (12:09 PM)
He has potential, Craiggers, but it'll be good for him to likely sit a year behind Raiola and learn.
Jay Cutler and Matt Cassel (Aaron Rodgers House)
We just wanted to thank you for once again enlisting no help for your secondary. Oh, and Brandon,Alshon, Jordy, Randall, Cordarrelle and Greg all say hi and wanted to pass on their thanks as well.
Michael Rothstein (12:09 PM)
OK, this made me laugh.
Should the Lions have drafted a QB in the 4th?
Michael Rothstein (12:12 PM)
Maybe...although they needed defensive help and that was the more pressing need. The Lions found a pretty decent one on the undrafted market in James Franklin. And let's face it, whatever quarterback they drafted was going to be developmental anyway -- so if they felt there were bigger needs out there, they could grab one next draft or on the free agent wire.
Who would you have drafted in the first, if you were the Lions?
Michael Rothstein (12:14 PM)
Considering the way the board fell, Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald. I've been pretty consistent with that both before the draft and after. Or, I would have tried to trade down but from what Martin Mayhew said, that wasn't really an option.
You look like my friend Colin's brother. He's weird.
Michael Rothstein (12:15 PM)
Good to know.
Ed (Queens Village)
Pettigrew, Fauria, or Ebron starts at TE for most of 14?
Michael Rothstein (12:16 PM)
Probably Pettigrew and Ebron combined. As mentioned earlier, it wouldn't be shocking to see a two TE/two WR formation grouping as the primary one for the Lions this season, which would give both of those guys starts. I don't know if Fauria starts a game this season unless there is an injury.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Michael - How surprised was everyone with the Lions pick of Eric Ebron in the first round and than drafted 4 position players for the defense, 3 for the offense and 1 kicker probrably earned Detroit an A+overall for the draft, did the Lions fill most or all of their needs ?
Michael Rothstein (12:17 PM)
Rich, I was fairly surprised -- but that had to do as much with how I felt about Ebron as it did about them drafting offense. Most people probably felt defense was the pick there and that was the stunning part of it. The Lions barely addressed secondary help, though, and that alone would take them away from an A grade. They certainly helped some of their needs, but corner and safety are still questions, as is defensive end and potentially wide receiver depth.
Colton (Omaha, NE)
Who do you think will make the biggest difference from the rookie draft class for the Lions?
Michael Rothstein (12:18 PM)
Immediately? Freese if he wins the job or Ebron because he'll be given the opportunities. Down the road, it would not surprise me if Kyle Van Noy or Caraun Reid end up as two of the better picks for the Lions.
matthew (ann arbor)
Do you think Suh not resigning affected this years first round draft pick. Do you think they went offense because they know he wants out and they have to go D next year in first round.
Michael Rothstein (12:20 PM)
No, I don't. If Suh's contract situation was going to have an effect on this year's draft for Detroit, the Lions would have unquestionably taken Aaron Donald, the defensive tackle from Pitt. Don't think it made a difference what Suh's situation is. The Lions still seem confident something will get done with Suh.
Colton (West Virginia)
What do you think about the Van Noy pick in round 2? Do you think he starts right away?
Michael Rothstein (12:21 PM)
I like him, Colton, and think he was the best round/value pick the Lions made. Mayhew already kind of tabbed him a starter immediately. The question is going to be where he fits into a 4-3 defense that ends up in nickel a lot. If they are going to find him opportunities, it'll be in a hybrid defense situation or on first downs right away.
Thomas Smith (Land of zero Superbowls)
isn't there some validity to the fact they already have some young db's to develop and taking one in the first round was a reach at best and just would of added another one to develop? I just don't see why so many wanted a DB at 10
Michael Rothstein (12:23 PM)
I get that theory, I do, and it was why I was so high on the Ha Ha Clinton-Dix situation because safeties develop faster and I believe he'll be a good one. Put it this way. The Lions kind of have to hope at least one of those corners develops -- more than likely, two of them -- otherwise they are going to have some issues this season. Big issues.
Do you thing that ebron and tate will take away from Megatron"s statistical production or help it by pulling safety help away?
Michael Rothstein (12:24 PM)
A little bit of both. Ebron's presence will likely cut down Pettigrew's targets a bit and also any receiver who was planning on being in the slot (Ross, Broyles). Tate on the outside will also distract from Johnson's numbers. It wouldn't surprise me if Johnson's catch and target numbers are down but his yards remain similar because there should be more open space for him to run after the catch. He's still the best receiver in the NFL.
Will Ebron likely be on the field as much as a wide out as a tight end? Seems like a top 10 pick is too high for a situational player
Michael Rothstein (12:25 PM)
I anticipate him being on the field almost all the time, Victor. They'll line him up outside and in the slot. I'd actually be surprised if he was in-line all that often. Most of his catches at UNC came when he was lined up as a receiver. Don't think that's going to change all that much.
I think picking Ebron was awesome. I think he was top player at 10th overall. Stafford releases the ball quickly and he will have plenty of options between TEs and RBs who can catch. Do you agree?
Michael Rothstein (12:26 PM)
Yes, Phil, Stafford will have a multitude of options this fall. That was never in question after the Ebron pick.
Jeremy (Kalamazoo, MI)
I like Fairley, in a lets see how you do this year kind of way. But is it in the best interest of the team to keep a player around like that?
Michael Rothstein (12:28 PM)
It made little sense to me then that they didn't pick up Fairley's option -- especially since there's nothing holding Detroit to keeping him around after 2014 even if the Lions did pick it up. One of the things I thought when they chose to let him be able to test free agency after the 2014 season -- and bolstered by some of the other moves made -- is the hybrid defense the team will use is real.
What are your thoughts...or whispers around the league on the UDFA the Lions signed? Also who might be available in June as veteran CB cuts?
Michael Rothstein (12:29 PM)
Really like the Cornelius Lucas kid they signed -- the 6-9 OT. He should compete for a roster spot. Think Jerome Couplin, the DB from William & Mary, also has a chance. James Franklin should stick around for a bit, too, even if it just as a developmental quarterback.
I'm a bit unclear on why everybody downgrades the Lions draft because they didn't address needs well enough (secondary). Mayhew has said need only really weighs in significantly in later rounds (where they took a CB). I have always thought it is better to go BPA and fill leftover needs through FA. Is this more about people just not agreeing with that strategy?
Michael Rothstein (12:31 PM)
I think that's part of it -- and the other part might be the Lions took a tight end after just re-signing Pettigrew and having Fauria under contract. Now, Ebron is a much more dynamic player than Fauria. I also think now that initial shock has worn off, more and more people are coming around on Ebron. That said, I still would have taken Aaron Donald there.
Jesse (Port Sanilac)
What team events will be taking place between the end of the draft and the beginning of training camp in later July? I know there is rookie camp, and OTAs this month. Are there any team activities in June, or does the team have that time off? Will the new coaches be doing anything to catch the players up to speed with their new outlooks?
Michael Rothstein (12:31 PM)
Rookie minicamp is this weekend. OTAs and minicamps start next week. Last minicamp is in mid-June. Then the players are off until the end of July when they report for training camp.
How much of the defensive woes last season were on the players, and were on the coaches last season? I think the coaches should have shouldered more of it than they did.
Michael Rothstein (12:33 PM)
The lack of sacks could be attributed to the coaching staff a bit. They had one of the better front fours, sure, but they also didn't blitz nearly enough to be effective. Now some of that might have been to help mask a rough back end, but they could have used more pressure there. That said, there were players who took horrific angles to the ball in the secondary, and that cost them, too.
Is one of the keys to improving the secondary improving the pass rush?
Michael Rothstein (12:33 PM)
Absolutely, Hanson. It's all interconnected.
I felt like the reason the Lions were losing close games last year was not due to the defense or secondary blowing games but rather inconsistency on offense and the inability to close. Thoughts?
Michael Rothstein (12:35 PM)
It's a little bit of everything based on the game. I know that is kind of a copout answer, but it's true.
Did Cleveland taking CB Gilbert change the Lions draft or do you think they projected him gone before 11th pick ?
Michael Rothstein (12:36 PM)
We'll never know, Hanson, but if Mayhew was being truthful in saying Ebron was the No. 2 offensive player on their board, I don't know if Gilbert was going to be higher than that. Don't even know if Gilbert was their highest-rated corner. He wasn't to me. I had Dennard over him.
Corey (East Lansing) [via mobile]
Who is this TJ Jones kid? I watched some highlights but does he have good hands? What about speed? He played at ND is he a Golden Tate type signing?
Michael Rothstein (12:37 PM)
He's good. Has really nice hands, decent-to-good speed and is reliable. Don't think he makes a big impact this season, per se, but he could definitely be a guy who ends up emerging in 2015 or 2016 as a pretty good slot receiver. He needs to get bigger.
So , best case scenario for Lions: Cory Fuller emerges and beats out Kris Durham this year as the No. 4 -- they know what Durham can do; Chris Greenwood puts it all together and stays healthy to unseat Bentley; Slay and Taylor make the transition and have a stellar Year 2s; and three draft picks, including Ebron, are legit starters. Otherwise, it's 7-9 all over again. What do you think?
Michael Rothstein (12:39 PM)
OK, there's a lot here so let's unpack...The competition for receiver spots 3-5 should be one of the more intriguing ones throughout camp. You've got Broyles, Ross, Edwards and Jones competing in the slot (although there's a decent chance Ross is making the team as a returner/depth receiver no matter what). On the outside you have Durham, Ogletree and Fuller. Of those seven guys, you probably have three -- maybe four -- making the roster.
Michael Rothstein (12:42 PM)
At nickel, it's entirely possible that Greenwood wins that job, but Bentley was serviceable there -- and so was Don Carey, who also offers versatility as a safety. Don't count out Mathis playing inside there as well. I still like him, even at his age, over some of the younger corners. The Lions need Slay to have a breakout second season. Not as much Taylor as long as Jason Jones comes out of camp healthy. If Taylor can be the third DE, that's not a bad thing for Detroit. As far as rookies...I think your starters are Freese, Van Noy and Ebron.
Stove (The D)
What WR in your eyes will be cut/sent to the practice squad with the drafting of Jones? They will have CJ and Tate, but who will the other 4 Wrs be? They normally keep 5-6. With Ebron I see them only keeping 5 and the 4 Tes. Thoughts?
Michael Rothstein (12:44 PM)
Kind of answered this last question, but your locks are Johnson and Tate. If Broyles is able to do anything, he's probably still on the roster -- but if he isn't ready to go they might PUP him to give time on both a decision and recovery. ... Then you've got Durham, Ogletree, Fuller, Jones, Edwards and Ross. Ross is probably on the team as a returner. So now you're at four. Probably looking at one of Durham and Ogletree and one of Edwards, Fuller and Jones on the roster. As far as P-squad, Fuller and Jones if they don't make the 53-man.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Seems like you are a big Aaron Donald fan...obvious to say you liked St. Louis' draft, getting the best OL and DL in the draft?
Michael Rothstein (12:46 PM)
Yes, I liked the Rams' draft a lot -- although they didn't get the best defensive lineman in the draft. Some dude named Clowney is that. St. Louis could be a really interesting team to watch this year if Sam Bradford can stay healthy.
Michael Rothstein (12:47 PM)
Ten minute warning. Ten minute warning.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
With the re-signing of Joquie Bell to significant money, and the drafting of another TE, is it too far of a stretch to think the Lions want to run the ball a lot more this season?
Michael Rothstein (12:48 PM)
Ehh, Ebron isn't your traditional tight end. And signing Bell is more due to using multiple backs out of the backfield more than ever -- plus insurance on Reggie Bush's oft-injured body.
The thing I don't get about Ebron...why didn't he score more TD's in college if he is such a mismatch?
Michael Rothstein (12:49 PM)
UNC ran the ball a lot. They had a guy named Gio Bernard. Also, the Heels had some QB issues last season.
J in FLA (Cocoa)
You really can't judge picks before they have been in the league a couple years so what do think now about the Lions 2011 and 2012 1st rd picks Nick Fairley and Riley Reif?
Michael Rothstein (12:50 PM)
Really like Reiff. He's already the starting left tackle and could be on this offensive line in some capacity for the next 10 years or so. Fairley is inconsitent. Stil has so much potential and could be dominant if he could ever stay focused for an entire season. Now that he doesn't have a contract for 2015, maybe that will be the motivation for him.
Is Detroit's secondary really as horrible as the national media (and apparently other NFC fans) seem to think? Obviously Van Noy will help with the pass defense, but was it really as huge a problem as people make it out to be? 1st in 3rd down defense and 1st in red zone defense along with our offense having the 2nd most giveaways seems to suggest the defense wasn't really the problem. Thoughts?
Michael Rothstein (12:53 PM)
It was not good, JJ. Quin had a nice year and I've said I think that was a better FA signing before last season than Bush, even if Reggie got all the attention. Delmas was a problem by the end of the season, but he's not around anymore. Houston was horribly inconsistent, but it is tough to tell whether that was truly injury-related or something else in 2013. Slay was inconsistent. The rest of the corners are decidedly average other than Mathis. But the offense turning the ball over and not hanging on the ball certainly hurt -- as did the defensive line not finishing sacks.
Frank (New Orleans)
Can Ryan Broyles be a huge asset for the Lions if he can play the whole regular season?
Michael Rothstein (12:54 PM)
Depends how much his legs have left, Frank. Good kid. Works hard. Really has put a ton into his rehab. But two ACLs and an Achilles can wear out a lot of players -- especially guys who relied on speed as a smaller receiver.
With all the new receiving toys, how will Reggie bush fit in? still alot of running or mostly another passing option?
Michael Rothstein (12:55 PM)
You'll still see Bush get the ball a good amount. The Saints offense did not have a back have more than 200 carries in a season and threw to the running backs a lot. So as long as they can hold on to the ball, you'll see a lot of Bush, Joique Bell and maybe even Theo Riddick.
Do you think that Lions offense will perform better than Denver's last year offense. I think we have all the tools with no hole that I can see, elite players at every position and top rated young offensive line. I think Stafford is set for a breakout season. something like 5500 yards and 50 TDs.
Michael Rothstein (12:56 PM)
No. Mostly because Denver has this guy named Manning, Peyton. I like Stafford more than most, probably, but he is nowhere near Manning. Sorry.
Taylor (Grand Rapids)
Heard Houston had surgery....any insight?
Michael Rothstein (12:57 PM)
The Lions had no comment. His agent has not returned my messages. I saw the Instagram and the Free Press reported he did have surgery, which isn't surprising considering the Lions had not ruled it out last week. That's all I know for right now.
Do you expect UDFA Cornelius Lucas to compete to be a backup OT or is there a possibility that he's looked at as a potential LG to replace Sims?
Michael Rothstein (12:59 PM)
Definitely think he competes as a backup OT and of all the UDFAs, he would be my best bet to make the roster at this point. Don't think he'll be looked at as a potential left guard. He's 6-9. Too tall for a guard, in my opinion.
Michael Rothstein (1:00 PM)
Unfortunately, that's all we have time for today. Once again, a ton of great questions. I'll answer some more that I didn't get to on the site tomorrow as well. Remember, if you have a question, you can ask me on Twitter @mikerothstein or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org...Thanks, and see ya next week!