Detroit Lions: Da’Shawn Hand

Embed from Getty Images The Detroit Lions, who will begin to switch their defensive scheme from a 4-3 to a 3-4 needed both more beef up front. As well as a pass rusher. Enter 300 lbs defensive end Da’Shawn Hand.

At the University of Alabama Da’Shawn Hand struggled to find consistent play. He did not become a starter for the Crimson Tide until this past season. His season saw good progress.

His long arm length helps Da’ Shawn close would be running lanes and alters the plans of running backs. For a big player he has fantastic balance. He has versatility to his game. He is fast enough to play end on the 3-4 or 3-technique in a 4-3 formation.

Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia,  earlier said the Lions would not commit to one or the other formation but would lineup in either given the situation. Making Hand, a solid pick.

While at Alabama  Da’Shawn Hand, missed 3 games due to a sprained MCL.  He has trouble consistently rushing the passer.  Despite having all the physical tools Detroit Lions, defensive coaches are going to have to work to help him find consistent play.

I have little doubt they can do the job. Lions, general manager Bob Quinn has yet to miss on a draft pick. I think by getting Da’ Shawn Hand in the fourth round they got a solid player with room to both improve and grow.

Given the Detroit, coaching staff this may be a steal of a draft pick.

Detroit Lions: Tracy Walker

Embed from Getty Images At 6′ 1″ new Detroit Lions,  Tracy Walker was brought in with an eye on the future. For good reason. He’s a hitter.

Walker, is a very fluid athlete. He gets to the ball with little problem. As a three year starter at Louisiana-Lafayette he was an absolute ball-hawk. That is a plus given the talent in Detroit’s secondary.

He has a very quick first step and is fast to the point of attack. Tracy Walker does seem to have one speed and has been beaten deep. Leading me to believe he will play in a lot of zone situation.

Again the Detroit Lions, have a very good secondary so if Walker, plays zone he could also be a stand out special teams player given his instincts for getting to the ball.

Not too mention current Detroit Lions safety Quandre Diggs is entering the final year of his contract and has not developed as well as Lions, general manage Bob Quinn had hoped.

Detroit Lions head coach, Matt Patrica is famously known for coaching players up to a higher level than the players draft status could bode well for Tracy Walker.

He has the natural instincts that coaches look for and that can’t be taught. Getting to the ball before the pass is in the air. It will be fun to see just what Patricia and his coaching staff can do to elevate Walkers game.

Detroit Lions: Kerryon Johnson

Embed from Getty Images The Detroit Lions needed to upgrade a woeful running game. In day (actually night two) of the 2018 NFL draft they got a player who can help. A lot.

Kerryon Johnson, drafted out of Auburn University is a smooth runner. He also hits holes quickly. Johnson also is not afraid to lower his shoulders into would be tacklers.

The Detroit Lions, have lacked a bruiser at tail back for some time. Kerryon ends that search. He may also end the playing days of Ameer Abdullah . That is not a bad thing.

Kerryon Johnson, can step in from day one and be an impact back in the Detroit offense. Taking pressure off of quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Lions, may have just pushed the franchise closer to a championship.

One thing that Johnson, must work on is taking a hand off a go straight into a forward leaning run position. There were times while at Auburn Kerryon Johnson, stood straight up and down and took a beating behind the line of scrimmage.

Over all this is an outstanding pick by Detroit general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia. The Detroit Lions, offense is now better balanced with the addition of first round draft pick center Frank Ragnow, and now running back Kerryon Johnson.

Kerryon can handle a heavy work load. He is a solid pass blocker and although he wasn’t asked to catch the ball much out of the backfield. When call upon he delivered.

Detroit Lions: Frank Ragnow

Embed from Getty Images Detroit Lions general manager, Bob Quinn stuck by his drafting dependable players during last nights first round of the 2018 NFL draft. Grabbing a center and helping the Lions, offensive line.

At 6′ 5″ 312 lbs. Frank Ragnow is a hulk of a center. He was captain of the Arkansas Razorbacks. He is strong and is a tough run blocker. Something the Detroit Lions have lacked at the center position.

Leading up to the draft Lions head coach Matt Patricia, said he likes to build teams from the ball out. Check. Ragnow, also is somewhat versatile in that he can also line up at right guard.

He did have a high ankle injury that lead to surgery during the Razorbacks, 2017 season. Detroit, must have been pleased with the medical records.

One drawback on Frank Ragnow is his hands sometimes get outside the pads and leads to holding penalties. With all of that the Detroit Lions, got a heck of a player. A guy who can be a fixture for a longtime to come.

Both the Detroit, passing and running game just improved as well. In an earlier blog I said I did not think Bob Quinn, would draft a running back in the first round at #20.

I could see them drafting one in rounds two or three.

Detroit Red Wings: do not worry about the lottery

Embed from Getty Images Saturday night we will find out exactly where the Detroit Red Wings, will be picking in the 2018 NHL draft. But fear not where that spot is.

The rebuilding Red Wings, will have an impact player in their system after the NHL draft. I know that the #1 pick is glamorous. That really can be thrown out the window in this years draft as there is talent aplenty to be had.

Detroit, is in pretty good shape defensively. In my opinion they should focus on forwards. The need forechecking, goal scoring, play with a snarl forward to help move the rebuild along.

Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, is the favorite to go first over all. Then it gets interesting. The Red Wings, need more than one defensman. The fact that they have multiple draft picks is a great thing given the talent level this draft presents.

Detroit, general manager Ken Holland, has been out scouting and gathering information. I expect a very solid draft class for both he and his scouting department.

The Detroit Red Wings, will pick somewhere in the top 10 picks. I am looking forward to seeing a player that can help the team sooner than later. Two players that I believe can help right away are left wing Brady Tkachuk, Boston University and right wings Serron Noel, Oshawa. Both players are NHL ready and will not need minor league time.

It is going to be interesting going forward seeing how Ken Holland, stocks the Red Wings.

Detroit Lions: it is draft day

Embed from Getty Images Today players who have worked to get to the NFL will get the call. Some early and some late. For the Detroit Lions, it is a very important draft for a team on the cusp to take the next step.

Bob Quinn, Detroit general manager seems to have a rule of thumb about the players he selects. Much like the New England Patriots for whom Quinn, used to work for. He seems to go for dependable players. Over splash and hyped players.

The Detroit Lions, who currently hold the #20 pick in the first round could have their pick of a defensive stand out. Or a much needed running back. Two players I like are Alabama’s defensive end Da’ Ron Payne or LSU running back Derrius Guice.

I am not a general manager, It is very possible Bob Quinn, is locked into some other player. By looking at his past draft picks. Quinn, is going to get players who are both dependable and consistent in their play.

Big names be damned. It is about bring the Detroit Lions, more consistent play across the board. They are very close to being a very good football team. But, there is work to be done.

It is always fun to see the look on players faces as their name is called. It is also fun to play couch general manager and comb over the draft picks. With Bob Quinn, and his Patriots ties I personally have a hard time seeing Detroit, select a running back in the first round.

This is a very deep talented  draft for running backs. So good talent can be found in the second through last round of the draft. It also provides the team with better value for the draft pick.

So starting tonight the 2018 Detroit Lions, roster will start to take shape. And hopefully a step closer to a championship.

Detroit Tigers: when should a prospect be called up

Embed from Getty Images With many of the organization’s top prospects thriving in the minor leagues. Detroit Tiger, fans are wondering when they will be called up.

A prospect is inserted because they can help the parent team. Or they are ready. A prospect should never be called up if a team is struggling. There is a bigger picture to take into consideration.

Players need to develop. There is so much for them to learn. Rushing a prospect can spell disaster for the player and set the team back further. Because Detroit is in a rebuild and will not contend for a few seasons it is best to let the kids play and grow.

Certainly, a player or pitcher can get a spot start here or there. That is nothing more than to see how far they have come and what work still needs to be put in.

My advice is to enjoy the Detroit Tigers and the minor league teams this season. Do not wish the season away. The process is long the reward is great. That needs to be the focus.

No band aids to help a struggling team. That solves nothing. I do not remember a struggling team call up a player and then go on a winning streak.

Columbus Blue Jackets: not ready for prime time

Embed from Getty Images For the first time in franchise history the Columbus Blue Jackets, made back to back Stanley Cup playoff appearances. Second year in a row the team failed to make it out of the first round.

This one hurts. The Blue Jackets were up 2 games to 0. Only to lose 4 in a row to Washington. The power play and the fact they could not stay out of the penalty box doomed Columbus.

Centers, Alexander Wennberg and Brandon Dubinski woefully underperformed. It all proved to much to overcome for the young Columbus Blue Jackets.

The roster will most certainly see turnover this offseason in hopes to regroup for another playoff run next season. But for now this is a tough pill to swallow. So much promise lost.

Fans can only hope the right changes are made. Brad Larson, who is overseer of the teams power play that was among the worst in the NHL could be on the hot seat. An upgrade is desperately need at center wher Dubinski had a very bad season as did Wennberg.

The defense and goalie were the bright spots. Along with Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson as well as Pierre Luc-Dubois. There is plenty of room to make changes as the team will be pushing $40 million in cap space.

There is always next year. That is starting to wear thin in Columbus.

Detroit Pistons: in four season head coach Stan Van Gundy is 152-176

Embed from Getty Images THE meeting is supposed to take place this week. Detroit Pistons, owner Tom Gores and Stan Van Gundy are set to discuss the season and what lies ahead.

At 152-176 one would expect Van Gundy, has some explaining to do to his boss. After all four years ago he was brought to the Motor City to win. One playoff season simply does not cut it.

The meeting, in my opinion can go one of two ways. The first, Gores could tell Stan to make wholesale changes to his coaching staff. Perhaps new scouts could be brought in. Or second, Gores could just give Stan Van Gundy his walking papers.

That would mean Tom Gores would have to admit failure. That is a bitter pill no matter how you slice it. But, for the Pistons to move forward it may have to be swallowed.

My hope is that Gores, has asked for outside help in gathering information. That this is not a rushed or rash choice that hurts the direction of the franchise.

Detroit Red Wings: winning a Calder Cup does not always mean a Stanley Cup is close

Embed from Getty Images The Grand Rapids Griffins, have won the Calder Cup in 2012-13 and last season. The Detroit Red Wings can not count on this being the start of something bigger.

Stanley Cup, teams are built. Drafted and developed players carry teams success or failure. It is really hard to know exactly how a prospect will perform once they transition to the NHL.

The Griffins, are currently in the Calder Cup playoffs trying to defend last seasons championship. If they do great. But it does not help the Red wings.

So I hate to be the bad news bubble popping voice of reason. But, there is no reason to raise expectations for Detroit anytime soon. Players still need to put in the time needed.

Only strong drafts and smart free agent signings can lift teams to the next level of play. So enjoy another Griffins playoff run. But stay focused.