Friday, February 27, 2015

3 Rounds Draft Scouting - Defense

Yesterday I covered the Lions' 2 biggest needs on the offensive side of the ball - running back and offensive line. Today we're going to look at 2 positions on the defensive side of the ball - defensive tackle and cornerback. After drafting Suh #2 overall in 2010 and then following up with Nick Fairley #13 overall in 2011, you wouldn't think this would be a position of need. But due to Suh being signed under the old CBA, he's going to be SUPER expensive to re-sign this year, and Fairley has been too inconsistent and injured to make the Lions pony up for both Suh and Fairley. Two of the other DTs on the team, Andre Fluellen and CJ Mosley, are both entering free agency as well.

The Lions will do their best to retain Suh, but even if they get him that puts the squeeze on the other guys. They've got DT Caraun Reid on the 2nd year of his rookie deal, so I expect they'll try to develop him as a backup for the 2015 season, but they'll still need another difference maker at that position.

Cornerback is also a concern. Rashean Mathis is 34, which is usually when a CB's career starts to dry up, and he's a free agent. The Lions had some depth at the position, only Bill Bentley and Nevin Lawson both had season-ending injuries early last year. Neither looks to be a lock down guy, although the jury is still out. Darius Slay looked like a good #2 CB last year so the potential is there for him to be a stopper, but the Lions still need another guy. They could go DE here as well, but it's not a MAJOR need.

Defensive Tackle - 1st round options:

Malcom Brown, Texas - 6'3", 317 lbs
40 time: 5.05 sec
Bench: 26 reps
20-yd shuttle: 4.59 sec
2014 stats: 61 tackles; 6.5 sacks; 1 pass defensed

Brown would be the guy you want if Suh decides to take his talents elsewhere. He's pretty athletic for such a big guy, a bit better against the run than against the past, and he blows up double teams. He'd be a REALLY good guy to pair with Suh as well.

Eddie Goldman, Florida St - 6'4", 320 lbs
40 time: 5.15 sec (didn't work out at Combine)
Bench: N/A
20-yd shuttle: N/A
2014 stats: 35 tackles; 4 sacks; 1 PD

Goldman looks a lot like an NT to me, but with some help in his pass rush technique he could be a solid 4-3 DT. He's a load against the run and has a nose for the ball. He's been a fan of Suh since before he was a Lion, so you know he'd love to come here. Moves really well for such a big dude.

Defensive Tackle - 2nd round options:

Michael Bennett, OSU - 6'2", 293 lbs
40 time: 4.95 sec (didn't work out at Combine)
Bench: N/A
20-yd shuttle: N/A
2014 stats: 40 tackles; 7 sacks; 3 PD

Bennett isn't the stout run stopper that Brown and Goldman are, but he's not bad either and he's a better pass rusher. In his combine interview (he didn't work out there with a pulled groin) Bennett mentioned that because he's slightly undersized for a DT, he has to play with flawless technique. Well, his technique is REALLY good. I think if he adds 10-15 lbs, he could be better than the other 2 guys.

Grady Jarrett, Clemson - 6'1", 295 lbs
40 time: 5.06 sec
Bench: 30 reps
20-yd shuttle: 4.56 sec
2014 stats: 44 tackles; 1.5 sacks

Jarrett is a lot like Bennett, only with less production. To be fair, he was robbed of a couple of sacks because the QB either JUST made it back to the line or chucked the ball in the air just before he hit the ground. Bennett's a better prospect, but Jarrett would be an immediate impact guy as well.

Defensive Tackle - 3rd round option:

Marcus Hardison, Arizona St - 6'3", 307 lbs
40 time: N/A (didn't run at Combine)
Bench: 27
20-yd shuttle: N/A
2014 stats: 54 tackles; 10 sacks; 2 INT; 1 PD

Hardison is converting from DE to DT, so a lot of these highlights show him lining up on the outside. He's a heck of an athlete, so with some added leg muscle and improved leveraging technique, he could be a great find in the 3rd round.

Cornerback - 1st round options:

Trae Waynes, Michigan St - 6'1", 182 lbs
40 time: 4.31 sec
Bench: 19 reps
20-yd shuttle: 4.39 sec
2014 stats: 43 tackles; 1 sack; 3 INT; 9 PD 
 Another draft, another top-rated MSU corner. Waynes isn't as technically sound as Darqueze Dennard, but he's bigger and faster. thinks he's too "handsy" and will get called for a lot of penalties, so that's something he needs to work on. He's the #1 guy on both ESPN & Not a Patrick Peterson type of prospect, so it's tough to say where he'll be drafted. Could be top 10, could be in the 20's.  Marcus Peters, Washington - 5'11", 193 lbs40 time: 4.53 sec
Bench: 17 reps
20-yd shuttle: 4.08 sec
2014 stats: 30 tackles; 3 INT; 7 PD (only have stats for 8 games)

Marcus Peters may be a better CB prospect than Waynes, but he comes with a HUGE caveat: he was kicked off the team in November, causing him to miss the last 5 games of the season. He tested positive for weed in 2011 and had been suspended for various infractions on & off the field before Coach Chris Petersen kicked him off the team. He's owned his mistakes and made up with Petersen, and will work out at Washington's Pro Day to try to improve his 40 time (I think he's faster than a 4.5).

Now for the positive. His production is outstanding. Considering he missed about 1/3 of the season, he may have ended up with 5 or 6 picks, 11 or 12 passes defensed, and about 45 tackles. He's really good at anticipating and reading the play. His maturity issues are a big concern and could cause him to drop into the 2nd round, but if the Lions are satisfied with his interview, then they should pull the trigger here. Both Jalen Collins and Kevin Johnson are also options here, although they don't have Peters' ceiling.

Cornerback - 2nd round options:

Quinten Rollins, Miami (OH) - 6'1", 203 lbs
40 time: 4.57 sec
Bench: 14 reps
20-yd shuttle: 4.28 sec
2014 stats: 73 tackles; 7 INT; 9 PD

Rollins was a college basketball player who decided to play football in 2014. His technique is a little sloppy, he lacks good top end speed, but holy crap does he look good. On many of those picks, he looked like he knew the route before the WR did. He tackles like a linebacker. He needs more reps and some more coaching, but I think he could be a solid #2 CB for somebody. Worst case, they convert him to a ball-hawking FS.

PJ Williams, Florida St - 6'1", 196 lbs
40 time: 4.57 sec
Bench: 12 reps
20-yd shuttle: 4.28 sec
2014 stats: 78 tackles; 1 sack; 1 INT; 10 PD

He's less of a ball-hawk than the other guys. He's more ready to contribute that Rollins is, but he's got less upside. He didn't run well at the Combine, so look for him to improve on his times at his pro day.

Cornerback - 3rd round prospect(s):

Senquez Golson, Ole Miss - 5'9", 176 lbs
40 time: 4.46 sec
Bench: 15 reps
20-yd shuttle: 4.20 sec
2014 stats: 43 tackles; 0.5 sacks; 9 INT; 16 PD

Senquez Golson had 9 picks last year and no highlight reel exists on YouTube? What a shame. He lacks ideal size and 3 of his 4 TDs allowed were to players 6'4" or taller, but I'd like to point out that in the clip above he's going over the top of a 6'6" TE. He's got good top end speed, great coverage skills, and he's willing to help out in the run game. I'd like to see him add 15 lbs of muscle, but I'd rather have a little guy who can cover than a big guy who can't. Oregon's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu could be an option as a slot CB here as well.

Ideal draft combinations for me would be to either get RB Gurley/Gordon in round 1, OT/RG Ogbuehi in round 2 and DT Hardison in round 3; DT Malcom Brown in rd 1, CB Rollins in rd 2, and OT/OG Daryl Williams in rd 3; or OT Ereck Flowers in rd 1, DT Michael Bennett in rd 2, and RB Duke Johnson in rd 3.

That's it for draft coverage until late April. I may check in with news in between  now & then as it warrants, but expect more Pistons/Wings/Tigers content until then.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

3 Rounds Draft Scouting - Offense

The biggest issue the Lions are facing this offseason is whether or not they will retain the services of Ndamukong Suh. It has the biggest impact on every other move they will make, and that includes the draft. Currently, every DT on the team (other than Caraun Reid, who barely played last year) is some form of free agent. Going over team needs, DT is probably the highest, followed by RB, OL and CB. They could take a linebacker too, and maybe a WR. DE is almost always a need the way they use the position these days, but I don't think they should use a top 3 round pick on one, unless someone like Arik Armstead or Dante Fowler Jr were to drop some 10 spots below their projection.

The Lions released Reggie Bush yesterday, mainly for the cap space but also because he couldn't stay on the field and really hasn't been that good on the field in the last 2 years. This will open up some space to sign Suh, but it also makes RB kind of a need. Joique Bell is a solid back, but it's definitely a position the Lions could stand to upgrade. The offensive line was atrocious last year, and with Raiola gone, Sims likely gone, and Reiff possibly moving to RT, the Lions could stand to upgrade the O line as well. CB is always a need, especially with Mathis getting older. This week I'll look at options at each of these position areas for the top 3 rounds. Today, we'll look at offense.

Running Back - 1st round options:

Todd Gurley, Georgia - 6'1", 226 lbs
40 time: N/A (supposedly ran a 4.3 in HS)

Bench: 17 reps
20-yd Shuttle: N/A
2014 stats: 123 carries; 911 yds; 9 TDs 

Gurley was a Heisman candidate before he got suspended for a stupid NCAA rule then tore his ACL. He's a big, physical back who runs through contact, and he's pretty fast. Not many guys his size return kicks. The knee injury is a concern, but it sounds like he should be ready to go by pre-season. He's good running or catching passes out of the backfield, and basically does everything well.

Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin - 6'1", 215 lbs
40 time: 4.52 sec
Bench: 19 reps
20-yd Shuttle: 4.07 sec

2014 stats: 343 carries; 2,587 yds; 29 TDs

The amazing thing is that one of these two RBs will most likely be available when the Lions go on the clock with the 23rd pick. Gordon is a bit shiftier, although he also brings plenty of power. He's not as good as Gurley catching the ball, and he's got serious ball security issues to boot.

Running Back - 2nd round options:

Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska - 5'9", 195 lbs
40 time: 4.60 sec
Bench: 24 reps
20-yd Shuttle: 3.95 sec

2014 stats: 264 carries; 1,611 yds; 19 TDs

Abdullah is probably the best guy to pair with Joique Bell. He may not be available when the Lions pick in the 2nd round, but the RB position has been a little devalued and he very well could slip. Small hands lead to some fumbling issues, but he's a good receiver as well as a scat back.

Tevin Coleman, Indiana - 6'1", 210 lbs
40 time: N/A
Bench: 22 reps
20-yd Shuttle: N/A

2014 stats: 270 carries; 2,036 yds; 15 TDs

Coleman elected not to run at the Combine after having surgery on his ankle in December. He'll run at his pro day on April 15th, so we'll get a chance to see his speed then. He's a good, shifty back but without much power or breakaway speed. He's more likely to be available at pick #55 than Ameer Abdullah, but if he's gone then Duke Johnson or Jay Ajayi could be options here as well.

Running Back - 3rd round option:

TJ Yeldon, Alabama - 6'1", 220 lbs
40 time: 4.61 sec
Bench: 22 reps
20-yd Shuttle: 4.22 sec

2014 stats: 194 carries; 979 yds; 11 TDs

Yeldon is a solid back. Not much push, not much breakaway speed, but he's shifty and  really good as a receiver. He played injured some last year, but nothing super serious.

Offensive Line - 1st round options:

LT Ereck Flowers, Miami (FL) - 6'6", 324 lbs
40 time: 5.31 sec
Bench: 37 reps
20-yd Shuttle: N/A

Flowers is REALLY good in pass protect & pretty good as a run blocker as well. He sometimes struggles to find his block in open space, but he's good enough to move Reiff to RT.

C Cameron Erving, Florida St - 6'6", 308 lbs
40 time: 5.15 sec
Bench: 30 reps
20-yd Shuttle: 4.63 sec

Watching highlight reels of offensive linemen is kind boring, so I'll spare you that for the rest of these prospects. It's pretty rare that a center goes in round 1, but the Lions are drafting late enough that it's justifiable. He could slide 2nd year man Travis Swanson over to guard. Needs some technique work, but few of these guys don't.

Offensive Line - 2nd round options:

T/G Cedric Ogbuenhi, Texas A&M - 6'5", 300 lbs
40 time: N/A
Bench: 23 reps
20-yd Shuttle: N/A

Needs some technique work, may switch back to guard in the pros. Phil Savage breaks down his strengths & weaknesses here better than I ever could.

RG Tre' Jackson, Florida St - 6'4", 330 lbs
40 time: 5.52 sec
Bench: N/A
20-yd Shuttle: N/A

Better run blocker than a pass blocker, blocks well in space. Laken Tomlinson would be an option here as well.

Offensive Line - 3rd round options:

RT Daryl Williams, Oklahoma - 6'5", 327 lbs
40 time: 5.34 sec
Bench: 27 reps
20-yd Shuttle: 5.15 sec

He's a solid RT, but lack of athleticism may slide him to the guard position in the NFL. Not a great pass blocker, pretty good on the run.

That's it for the offense, we'll take a look at DT & CB tomorrow.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Detroit Pistons at the Deadline

After Stan Van Gundy went on record about the Joe Johnson rumors & said no, that deal wasn't happening (thank god) and the Pistons were most likely standing pat, the Pistons DID NOT stand pat.

Trade #1: SF Kyle Singler, PG DJ Augustin, & a 2019 2nd round pick to OKC, and a 2017 2nd round pick to Utah for PG Reggie Jackson.

Trade #2: PF Jonas Jerebko & SF Luigi Datome to Boston for SF Tayshaun Prince.

Roster-filling Move: Signed SF Quincy Miller out of the D League to a 10-day contract.

ESPN's Kevin Pelton gave Detroit a 'C' for the Reggie Jackson trade, although most people like it a bit better than that (I'd give the trade a B+). Jackson was either the best or 2nd best player in the 3-team trade (depending on who you ask). He doesn't shoot it as well as Singler or Augustin do, so the Pistons get worse there, but he's a solid defender and runs a great pick & roll.

The Pistons give up their starting SF (who should be a bench player) and their starting PG (who WAS a bench player until Jennings got hurt), but Jackson is worth it. If you look at his production while Westbrook was hurt, Reggie averaged basically 20 ppg & 8 apg.

The Tayshaun Prince deal I don't like quite so much. The Pistons needed depth at the 3 position, so they gave up a bench PF on a good contract and a bench SF that wasn't getting any burn for a washed up Tayshaun. Jerebko is the best player in this trade, only he wasn't a great fit for Van Gundy's offense.

Tayshaun possesses the skill set to fit in, only he doesn't usually use it the way he should. If you'll recall, before he was traded the Pistons implemented the ISO-Tay or Isola-shaun offense, which was the worst, most boring offense in the NBA. It consisted of clearing out for Tayshaun on the wing, Tay S L O W L Y backing his guy down for 15 seconds, then either throwing up a hook shot or turning it over. At his current age and diminished athletic ability, Tayshaun should be establishing himself as a spot up shooter. My other concern is Tayshaun has shown a propensity to sulk quite a bit. If he steps up and fits in, this isn't a terrible deal. Otherwise, you can forget about making the playoffs this year. The other aspect of this deal is Tayshaun's $7M expiring contract, which should help SVG find some REAL help on the wing this summer.

Speaking of help on the wings, the Pistons got 6'10" SF Quincy Miller to shore up the SF position after dealing Singler & Datome. Miller was the #1 rated D League prospect, averaging 25.3 ppg on .506/.352/.892 shooting, 7.6 reb, 1.9 ast, 1.6 stl, and 3.6 blk. He's had a couple cups of coffee up in the NBA, but never really stuck. He had a couple of solid games, like the Houston game above (19 pts, 6 boards, 3 dimes, 4 blocks), but never had any sustained success. Maybe getting some run in the D League helped him figure it out, and Miller becomes a solid contributor off the bench. Maybe he goes full-on Hassan Whiteside and makes the leap from D Leaguer to NBA stud.

We aren't going to see the new-look Pistons until Sunday at the earliest. I expect some growing pains with Jackson as he learns the playbook and his new role. I don't have a clue what we'll be getting out of the SF position. I do think this team can make the playoffs. Milwaukee and Charlotte will slide, Brooklyn isn't really any better, Boston is slightly better, and Miami - despite picking up the best player who moved yesterday - may have lost Bosh for the season.

Get ready. The next 8 weeks are going to be INTERESTING.

Re-Drafting for Millen, Pt 2

Wednesday I covered Millen's 1st 4 drafts with the team. He actually had a decent (not great) first draft, and you could argue he got unlucky with a couple of his higher profile picks in the other drafts. He still had a flawed philosophy, falling in love with certain players and either moving up to take them or reaching for them, and this would cost him. He also fell in love with the WR position, which was a shame because he was pretty bad at picking the right one and the team had plenty of needs in other areas. The defense was rather porous, the offensive line was bad, and the pass rush needed help as well. With all that in mind, here's...

2005 NFL DraftFirst of all, the Williams pick was a head scratcher. The prevailing "wisdom" at the time was that "when a player like that falls to you, you abandon all other plans and take him." Uh, NO YOU DON'T. You certainly don't take a WR in the 1st round 3 years in a row. Either trade the pick or take someone at a position of need.
1st rd, pick 10 - WR Mike Williams. Oh boy. Could've had DE/OLB DeMarcus Ware (8 Pro Bowls, 4 1st-team All Pro), DE/OLB Shawne Merriman (3 PB, 1 1st-team AP), LB Derrick Johnson (3 PB, 1 1st-team AP), OR... (little drumroll please)... QB Aaron Rodgers (4 PB, 2 1st-team AP, 1 Super Bowl MVP, 2 NFL MVP). Ware would've been a phenomenal guy to take, Johnson was reportedly the guy the Lions were targeting before Williams dropped and he would have been fine as well. But come on, Aaron Rodgers! Joey wasn't working out, in our dream scenario we've got Brees who is coming off of knee surgery and at or near the end of his contract. Take Rodgers!
2nd rd, pick 37 - DT Shaun Cody. The Lions traded their 2nd & 4th round picks to move up and take Cody, who never did much. With their original pick they could've had LB Lofa Tatupu (3 PB, 1 1st-team AP), DB Nick Collins (3 PB), LT Michael Roos (1 PB, 1 1st-team AP), WR Vincent Jackson (3 PB), or RB Frank Gore (5 PB). Gore's the best of this group, but they needed to take a LB, so make it Lofa.
3rd rd, pick 72 - CB Stanley Wilson. Could've had... well, anyone would've been better, but the headliners are DE Justin Tuck (2 PB, 1 1st-team AP), or OG Evan Mathis (2 PB, 1 1st-team AP). This might be Millen's worst draft ever, from a pure philosophy stand point.

2006 NFL Draft

Probably Millen's 2nd-worst draft. Two really bad drafts in a row...
1st rd, pick 9 - LB Ernie Sims. Sims was a relief in that he wasn't a WR, but he was disappointing in all other ways. The Lions could've taken NT/DT Haloti Ngata (5 PB, 2 1st-team AP), LB Chad Greenway (2 PB), CB Johnathon Joseph (2 PB), or C Nick Mangold (6 PB, 2 1st-team AP). Center would be a greater need, considering in our dream scenario that we didn't take Raiola, but no one takes a C 9th overall. Ngata gets a year to develop behind Shaun Rogers before the wheels fall off of him, and then hey, we have the best DT in the game ready to go when Rogers leaves.
2nd rd, pick 40 - CB Daniel Bullocks. As I've said before, the expectation is that you draft a starter or eventual starter with your 2nd round pick. Bullocks was out of the league after 2 years. Detroit could've had S Roman Harper (2 PB), LT Marcus McNeill (2 PB), WR Greg Jennings (2 PB), or RB Maurice Jones-Drew (3 PB, 1 1st-team AP). I have needs at S, Westbrook is probably getting tired of being the only RB in town... I'll take Harper here.
3rd rd, pick 74 - RB Brian Calhoun. Calhoun managed 54 yds rushing in his career, not exactly Walter Payton. They could've had RG Jahri Evans (6 PB, 4 1st-team AP), TE Owen Daniels (2 PB), WR Brandon Marshall (5 PB, 1 1st-team AP), or DE Elvis Dumervil (4 PB, 2 1st-team AP). TE fills the biggest need, so I'll take Daniels.

2007 NFL DraftThe first 2 picks weren't bad, but trading up killed this draft.
1st rd, pick 2 - WR Calvin Johnson (5 PB, 3 1st-team AP). Ok, can't kill Millen for this one. At the time I was more familiar with RB Adrian Peterson (6 PB, 3 1st-team AP) & thought the greater need was at RB, but everyone said CJ was a once in a generation WR (and they were right). They could've taken Peterson, LT Joe Thomas (8 PB, 5 1st-team AP), or CB Darrelle Revis (6 PB, 4 1st-team AP), but it's hard to go against one of the 3 best WR of all time. This draft had an AMAZING 1st round, by the way, except for the #1 pick (JaMarcus Russell, classic Raiders-type pick).
2nd rd, pick 43 - QB Drew Stanton. Stanton turned into an acceptable backup, but he never rated higher than 3rd-string with Detroit. The 2nd round is NOT where you draft your 3rd-string QB. The Lions traded back because the Bills wanted Posluszny (who would've been a better pick for the Lions as well), but you maybe don't want to pick your backup QB quite this high. Not if you're secure in your QB situation, and since in our dream scenario we drafted Aaron Rodgers, we're good. Could've had DE LaMarr Woodley (1 PB), or LB David Harris. Or keep the pick & take Posluszny.
2nd rd, pick 58 - DE Ikaika Alma-Francis. Wasted pick (30 career tackles, 1 sack), and it cost them 2 mid-round picks. They could've had C Ryan Khalil (4 PB, 1 1st-team AP). Realistically we would've filled in a low draft pick center or signed a veteran FA by now, but either way it'll be a need. I'll do the trade if we get Khalil, otherwise it's a dumb trade.
2nd rd, pick 61 - S Gerald Alexander. Again, the Lions traded 2 mid-round picks in 2008 for the opportunity to draft Alexander, who basically did nothing his whole career. WHY??? If they hadn't done this trade, they'd have the 74th pick and taken either DE Charles Johnson or DT Brandon Mebane, then used the 101st pick to take S Dashon Goldson. Millen was TERRIBLE about trading up in drafts.

2008 NFL Draft
Millen traded all around in this draft. The defense & offensive line had the biggest needs. Let's see what he did...
1st rd, pick 17 - RT Gosder Cherilus. Cherilus turned into an okay-not-great RT, but who takes a RT with the 17th pick? The Lions actually traded 2 spots back with KC so the Cheifs could draft LT Brandon Albert (1 PB), which sounds like insanity to me. Albert would've been a fine pickup. They could've also taken CB Aqib Talib (2 PB), RB Chris Johnson (3 PB, 1 1st-team AP), or LT Duane Brown (3 PB, 1 1st-team AP). As tempting as it is to grab Chris Johnson here, I'll take Brown, start him at RT, then slide him over to LT when Light starts to lose it.
2nd rd, pick 45 - LB Jordan Dizon. Millen continues his strategy of getting practically zero production from any pick after round 1. WR DeSean Jackson (3 PB) or RB Ray Rice (3 PB) would've been the go-to move here. Take Rice, and then make sure he gets some sensitivity training before 2014 happens.
3rd rd, pick 64 - RB Kevin Smith. Millen traded the 2 picks he got from moving back in round 1 so he could take Smith here. Don't do the trade, keep the 66th overall pick and take TE Jermichael Finley. What also stings is RB Jamaal Charles (4 PB, 2 1st-team AP) was also available here. Once again, Millen picks the wrong guy.
3rd rd, pick 87 - DT Andre Fluellen. This pick was part of the trade that sent Shaun Rogers to Cleveland. Fluellen was a useful player, although he remained a career backup. The other player in the trade, CB Leigh Bodden, was coming off a 6 INT season. He played 1 crappy season in Detroit, 2 crappy seasons in New England, and that was it for him. Rogers had to go, but this deal directly led to the 0-16 season. Get something better for Rogers.
3rd rd, pick 92 - DE Cliff Avril. The Avril pick was acquired from the Cowboys for Detroit's 2008 & 2009 4th round picks. Avril turned out to be one of the top 40 players in this draft, so this was a rare occasion when Millen trading up actually worked out.

8 years of Millen, on the cusp of a 4-0 preseason and an 0-16 REAL season, let's see what team the anti-Millen has wrought.

QB - Aaron Rodgers
RB - Ray Rice 
WR1 - Andre Johnson
WR2 - Calvin Johnson
TE1 - Owen Daniels
TE2 - Jermichael Finley

LT - Matt Light
LG - Andre Gurode
C - Matt Khalil
RG - Chris Snee
RT - Duane Brown

DE - Dwight Freeney
DT - Haloti Ngata
DT - Darnell Dockett, Brandon Mebane
DE - Justin Tuck, Cliff Avril
MLB - Lance Briggs
OLB - Lofa Tatupu
OLB - David Harris
CB - Charles Tillman
CB - DeAngelo Hall
FS - Dashon Goldson
SS - Roman Harper

That's a Super Bowl dynasty team right there. Obviously no one nails that many draft picks, but look how few of them were actually drafted by Millen - Only CJ and Avril. Interestingly enough, the teams that benefitted the most from good drafting were Green Bay, New England, the Ravens, the Saints, and Chicago. Of the 28 players Millen took in the top 3 rounds of 8 different drafts, 16 were total busts (including 4 HIGH 1st-rounders) and 6 were hugely disappointing, leaving 6 useful players drafted over 8 years. NOT good.

Combine that with all the trading up in the draft that Millen did, and you end up with a talent-bereft roster. The word was that Millen often ignored the advice of his scouts and reached for players that he decided he liked, often trading up to acquire those players. This could be guys trying to keep jobs, but Millen hasn't ever called them out on it, so it's probably true. Plus it jives with other things I've read about Millen. He was arrogant, thought he knew everything, and overrode anyone who disagreed.


This sets up my NFL Draft Preview column next week, where I go through the Combine data & compare that with game highlights. Today you get a bonus column, because the Pistons were particularly active at the trade deadline & we HAVE to go over those moves. So, check back later today!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Re-Drafting for Millen

The NFL Combine is going on right now, and when it's done I'll start looking at who the Lions might/should target. But first I'd like to do a bit of revisionist history. Most Detroit sports fans know, Matt Millen was the worst GM ever to happen to an NFL franchise in the history of football. No exaggeration. The architect of the 0-16 2008 season deserves that designation. Well, what would the Lions look like if Millen was the BEST GM in NFL history (or at least, somewhat respectable)?

2001 NFL Draft
This was probably Millen's best draft, which is actually kinda sad. He took LT Jeff Backus in round 1, and then Dom Raiola and Shaun Rodgers in round 2, none of whom could be considered a bust. Sorry, that last sentence should end with a '!!!' as this is a rare occurrence in the Millen Era. Actually, this brings up a point - one of the worst aspects of Millen's draft process was he often would trade away a lot of picks to move up in the draft. This is almost always DUMB, unless you're Matt Millen, in which case it is ALWAYS DUMB.

1st round, pick 18 - LT Jeff Backus. Could've had WR Reggie Wayne (6 Pro Bowls, 1 1st-team All Pro), TE Todd Heap (2 Pro Bowls), QB Drew Brees (9 Pro Bowls, 1 1st-team All Pro), or DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (3 Pro Bowls). Obviously the best-case scenario is Brees.
2nd rd, pick 50 - C Dominic Raiola. Could've had WR Chris Chambers (1 Pro Bowl). Of course their original pick was #48, which the Patriots used to draft... LT Matt Light (3 Pro Bowls, 1 1st-team All Pro), anchor of the Pats' O-line from 2001-2011.
2nd rd, pick 61 - DT Shaun Rogers. Ok, this was a good pick, but it cost Millen his 3rd & 4th rounders. Rogers would go on to make 3 Pro Bowls (2 with Detroit) before his legal troubles & various other troubles caught up with him. Probably better production than the Lions could've gotten out of the other 2 picks.

2002 NFL Draft
The 2002 draft was a bad one in general, so I'm going to argue (against my better judgment) that we should cut Millen a LITTLE slack for this one.
1st rd, pick 3 - QB Joey Harrington. Could've had DE Dwight Freeney (7 Pro Bowls, 3 1st-team All Pro), S Ed Reed (9 Pro Bowls, 5 1st-team All Pro), or DT Albert Haynesworth (2 Pro Bowls, 2 1st-team All Pro). Reed is the best of that group but would've been a stretch to take 3rd overall at the time. If Millen had Brees in 2001, maybe he would've taken Freeney. Haynesworth & Shaun Roger on the same team would've been an unmitigated disaster.
2nd rd, pick 35 - DE Kalimba Edwards. Could've had OG Andre Gurode (5 Pro Bowls), RB Clinton Portis (2 Pro Bowls), or WR Deion Branch (no Pro Bowls but did win 2004 Super Bowl MVP, so...). Gurode would've been the best option, especially if Millen had taken Freeney in round 1.

3rd rd, pick 68 - CB Andre' Goodman. Could've had RB Brian Westbrook (2 Pro Bowls, 1 1st-team All Pro), LB Will Witherspoon, or LB Larry Foote. Goodman had a couple of good years at the end of his career & not with the Lions. Westbrook was a solid 2-way back and would've avoided the Kevin Jones debacle a couple years later.

2003 NFL Draft
This draft began Millen's ill-fated love affair with the wide receiver position. Oh boy.
1st rd, pick 2 - WR Charles Rodgers. Maybe Millen's worst pick ever, getting absolutely ZERO from the #2 pick. Could've had WR Andre Johnson (OH MY GOD, 7 Pro Bowls, 2 1st-team All Pro, arguably best WR in the league before Calvin owned that), DE Terrell Suggs (6 Pro Bowls, 1 1st-team All Pro), or S Troy Polamalu (8 Pro Bowls, 4 1st-team All Pro, 1 DPOY). Polamalu was the best player but had a late-1st round grade at the time. Drafting Johnson at 2 would've been no stretch at all, since he actually went 3rd.
2nd rd, pick 34 -
LB Boss Bailey. Could've had CB Charles Tillman (2 Pro Bowls, 1 1st-team All Pro), CB Rashean Mathis (1 Pro Bowl, 1 1st-team All Pro), or CB Drayton Florence. The Lions' pass D would've been MUCH better had they taken Tillman. Interestingly, Mathis & Florence both played for the Lions last year.
3rd rd, pick 66 -
DE Corey Redding. Could've had LB Lance Briggs (7 Pro Bowls, 1 1st-team All Pro), or TE Jason Witten (10 Pro Bowls, 2 1st-team All Pro). Great draft for the Bears, by the way. Witten would have been the better pick, but if the greater need was at LB, should have taken Briggs. Ugh.

2004 NFL Draft
This should've been the indication that Millen wasn't all there, taking WRs in the 1st round of consecutive drafts.
1st rd, pick 7 - WR Roy Williams (1 Pro Bowl). Could've had CB DeAngelo Hall (3 Pro Bowls), QB Ben Roethlisberger (3 Pro Bowls), LB Jonathan Vilma (3 Pro Bowls), NT/DT Vince Wilfork (7 Pro Bowls, 2 1st-team All Pro), or RB Stephen Jackson (3 Pro Bowls). Wilfork is the best of that group, but NT wasn't a need with Shaun Rogers already on the team. If Millen had taken Brees back in 2001, then no need to take Roethlisberger (but he took Roy Williams 1 year after taking Charles Rodgers, SERIOUSLY!!!) so QB wouldn't have been a need. That leaves Vilma, Jackson, or Hall, and I'd say Hall just because Hall went with the 8th pick and it's believable that Detroit would've drafted him 7th.
1st rd, pick 30 - RB Kevin Jones. Could've had OG Chris Snee (4 Pro Bowls, 1 1st-team All Pro). Snee would've been great to have, but Millen traded back into the 1st round to take Jones. Well, Jones initially showed promise but never capitalized. Injuries kept him off the field a lot, and he wasn't THAT good when healthy. Trading up in the draft & that not working out will be an on-going theme here.
2nd rd, pick 37 - LB Teddy Lehman. Could've had LB Daryl Smith or DT Darnell Dockett (3 Pro Bowls). You want at least a solid starter out of your 2nd round pick. Lehman was barely a backup, Daryl Smith would've been nice, Darnell Docket would've been SWEET.
3rd rd, pick 73 - CB Keith Smith. Could've had WR Bernard Berrian (Berrian out-played Roy Williams from 2007-2009, at which point they were both done anyway), TE Chris Cooley (2 Pro Bowls), or DE Shaun Phillips (1 Pro Bowl). The other 2 were better players but go with Berrian for need here.

That's halfway through Millen's tenure. It's worth pointing out that Millen rarely drafted a player who panned out deeper than round 3. Anyway, what would the Lions' roster look like after these 4 phenomenal drafts?

QB - Drew Brees.
RB - Brian Westbrook
FB - Cory Schlesinger
WR1 - Andre Johnson
WR2 - Bernard Berrian
LT - Matt Light
LG - Andre Gurode
C -
RG - Chris Snee
RT - Stockar McDougle

TE - Stephen Alexander

DE - Dwight Freeney
DT - Shaun Rogers
DT - Darnell Dockett
DE - James Hall
OLB - James Davis
MLB - Lance Briggs
OLB - Earl Holmes
CB - Charles Tillman
CB - DeAngelo Hall
FS - Bracy Walker
SS - Brock Marion
Obviously there's a hole in the line when I took Matt Light instead of Raiola, and TE, LB and safety are weak spots, but that's a playoff team if I've ever seen one. the 2nd half of Millen's drafts to come tomorrow-ish.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Good News & Bad News - Team Building in the D

The Tigers are in TROUBLE. If you haven't heard by now, Victor Martinez suffered a partially torn meniscus during his offseason training last week and underwent surgery yesterday. They're hoping to get him back before the start of the season, but but who knows if that'll happen.

This may not end up being that big a deal, but it does underline the main problem with the Tigers going into the 2015 season. They are getting OLD. And increasingly injured, which is kind of related. Cabrera & Verlander are both 31, which isn't ancient by baseball standards, but definitely past the prime years and nearing retirement. Kinsler is 32, Victor is 36, and Joe Nathan (supposedly closing games, although my money is on Soria) is 40.

Of the main contributors on offense last year, JD Martinez (26) is the only one possibly looking up towards his prime. Of the best pitchers last year, Scherzer & Porcello are gone, Anibal Sanchez will be 31 (and has a major problem staying healthy), and Verlander will be 32 and coming off the worst season of his career. Whether it was a blip on the radar or an indication that his production has fallen off the cliff remains to be seen. Cabrera is once again rehabbing from a lower body injury (as they say in the NHL) which may limit his production.

The Good News
The Tigers DO have some young talent, with JD Martinez breaking out last year, Nick Castellanos making the Big Club, and the acquisitions of Jose Iglesias a couple years ago & Shane Greene this offseason. We haven't seen much yet from Bruce Rondon, Tyler Collins, Steven Moya, & James McCann, but chances are a couple of them will turn out. And the Tigers will need them to, because...

The Bad News

The Tigers are in a LOCKED UP salary situation. I mean, REALLY. Cabrera is getting $30M+ through 2023, at which point he will be 40. Verlander is getting $28M through 2019, when he'll be 36 years old and probably throwing 87 mph fastballs. Victor is locked up through 2018 at $18M/yr. Kinsler and Anibal Sanchez are most likely on their last contract ever, both ending in 2017 with a team option for 2018. Kinsler was uncharacteristically healthy last year, but Sanchez, Cabrera, Verlander, and Victor are all already showing major signs of wear.

The Tigers' championship window to win with this group goes only to about 2016, and 2015 might already be written off as a lost cause. Ulp.


As was pointed out on 97.1 The Ticket last week, the Red Wings are sort of the "anti-Tigers," which is weird because both teams are owned by the same guy. The Tigers have drafted pretty poorly over the past several years, mainly using their minor league prospects in trades to get guys like Cabrera, Sanchez, Gose, etc. and sign the big-name free agents. The Wings, on the other hand, draft AMAZINGLY well but haven't swung any huge trades in a while and haven't gotten the big-name free agents.

The Tigers have come ohsoclose to winning a World Series, and appear to be nearing the end of their run. Meanwhile, the Wings have been rebuilding on the fly since their last appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals (2009, having won in 2008) and are now tied for 2nd in the Eastern Conference, 2 points behind Tampa Bay. Nearly all the major contributors on the team were drafted by the Wings:
  • 1998, 6th round, pick 171 - Pavel Datsyuk (6th round???)
  • 1999, 7th round, pick 210 - Henrik Zetterberg (7TH ROUND?????)
  • 2000, 1st round, pick 29 - Niklas Kronwall
  • 2002, 9th round, pick 291 - Jonathan Ericsson
  • 2003, 2nd round, pick 64 - Jimmy Howard
  • 2003, 4th round, pick 132 - Kyle Quincey 
  • 2004, 3rd round, pick 97 - Johan Franzen
  • 2005, 1st round, pick 19 - Jakub Kindl
  • 2005, 2nd round, pick 42 - Justin Abdelkader
  • 2005, 5th round, pick 132 - Darren Helm
  • 2007, 1st round, pick 27 - Brendan Smith
  • 2007, 3rd round, pick 88 - Joakim Andersson
  • 2008, 4th round, pick 121 - Gustav Nyquist
  • 2009, 2nd round, pick 60 - Tomas Tatar
  • 2010, 1st round, pick 21 - Riley Sheahan
  • 2010, 5th round, pick 141 - Petr Mrazek
  • 2011, 2nd round, pick 35 - Tomas Jurco
That's both goalies and 12 out of 15 of the team's points leaders. Of the other 3 players on the points leaders list, Danny DeKeyser and Luke Glendenning were signed as the hockey equivalent of undrafted free agents. The 2 best young players on the team were drafted in years that the team made the finals. How's that for rebuilding on the fly?


Speaking of rebuilding on the fly, let's look at another Detroit team that has flat-out failed to do this - the Pistons. Dumars stated that he wanted to emulated the Spurs in how they managed to stay in contending status year-in & year-out. Here's the Spurs' rebuild on the fly plan & how Dumars failed to follow it:
  1. Stability at the coaching position. The success of the Spurs' longevity starts with Greg Popovich. He's been running the team since 1994 and took over as HC in 1996. He's one of 9 coaches to win 1,000 games.
    Joe Dumars' best shot at this was to stick with either Rick Carlisle, Larry Brown, or Flip Saunders. LB is maybe the best coach of the group (depending on how you feel about Carlisle) but stays nowhere longer than 4 years. Carlisle was the best bet to be good & stick around, and Flip was the last bet. None of them lasted longer than 2 years. FAIL times 7.
  2. Keeping a veteran core intact. Pop got a bit lucky in landing Duncan, Parker & Ginobili in the draft. Even so, he nearly blew it & traded away Tony Parker for Jason Kidd before it became clear that Parker was REALLY good.
    Dumars should have identified Billups, Ben Wallace & Tayshaun as his core players & kept them intact. In 2006 Ben Wallace's skills were declining and he was poised to get overpaid in free agency. Joe D decided to let him go,  which I actually agreed with at the time, but that fiscal responsibility would later disappear. He traded Chauncey in 2008 for Iverson in the hopes that the Pistons would stay competitive while he revamped the roster. Predictably with both team leaders gone and a rookie HC in charge, the inmates were running the asylum. Dumars let 'Sheed go in 2009 after he killed 2 coaches (Flip & Curry), and then blew all his cap space on the wrong people. In Bill Simmons' 2010 NBA Trade Value column, 4 Pistons would rank among the 25 worst contracts (Charlie V 16th, Maxiell 15th, Rip 9th, & Ben Gordon 6th). FAIL, FAIL, FAIL, FAIL.
  3. Keep the roster fresh with interchangeable parts. Pop did a great job of working with NBA spare parts like Michael Finley, Richard Jefferson, Stephen Jackson, and Boris Diaw. He was able to fit them in around his core 3 guys, and then let them go when the team needed to get younger or adapt in some way.
    When Dumars tried to rebuild the team's core, he did so around players who were really interchangeable parts. The key to signing interchangeable parts is you have to sign them to short contracts, no more than 3 years long, so that was a fail. Plus, Dumars tended to reward his interchangeable parts with bit contracts. That's how guys like Maxiell ended up getting $5M/yr when he was really a $1-2M player. FAIL.
  4. Draft well late. Pop nailed this with foreign players in the 2nd round, and got good value in the late-first round as well. Kawhi Leonard was the 15th pick, so while he's playing above expectations, he's not coming out of left field. But Tony Parker and Tiago Splitter were both picked 28th, Danny Green was drafted 46th overall, and Ginobili was taken 57th in his draft.
    Dumars has actually drafted well late. While he never got anyone quite as good as Parker or Ginobili, he did draft Arron Afflalo, Amir Johnson, Carlos Delfino, Khris Middleton, Kyle Singler, and Jonas Jerebko, all good late picks. That's two NBA starters and 3 quality bench players (Singler is not an NBA starter, I don't care what our depth chart says). The problem is Dumars let the best 2 go for practically nothing, and threw Middleton in the Knight for Jennings deal. He did something similar with Mehmet Okur in 2004. Okur was the 38th pick in 2001, stashed in Europe for a year, then played 2 years on a rookie deal before geting $8.2M/yr to play for Utah. Dumars didn't want to pay, and Okur was blocking Darko's path to playing time (reason # 2,571 why Darko was a terrible pick), so he gave up on Okur and watched him make an All Star game playing for Utah. Half FAIL.
That was depressing enough to go through that it took me three days to write that post. Yeagh. My conclusion after looking through all of that was that Dumars mishandling the coaching position cost the team more than all the rest of those mistakes combined. Each of the other mistakes were inflated by the lack of consistency and central leadership at the coaching position. Had you replaced Dumars & the HC du jour with Popovich, the Pistons probably would've ended up with an extra title or 2 instead of just 2004.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Picking up the pieces from National Signing Day

Far be it from me to bury the lede, so lets start out with Michigan Football Recruiting. Jim Harbaugh showed up in a firestorm of intensity, khakis, and intensity. Michigan recruits had been dropping like flies (by which I mean decommitting and going to other schools) and Harbaugh was coming in pretty late in the game. Would he be able to pull it off and get a Top Class of recruits? Well, not really, but... Ok, I'll stop dinking around. Who did we get?

5 Stars
None. The one 5-star recruit that Harbaugh had a shot at landing was CB Iman Marshall, who was wavering between going to Michigan or USC. He picked USC, and how can you blame him? It's 10 times warmer there than it is in Ann Arbor right now.

4 Stars
QB Zach Gentry, Eldorado HS, NM - Ranked #9 as a Pocket QB, 118th/ESPN300
6'7", 237 lbs, 40-time: 4.68 sec
I wrote a little about this guy earlier when I had heard Harbaugh flipped him from his commitment to Texas. He's got all the physical tools, but he needs to get consistent in his mechanics, both in footwork & in throwing motion. He'll most likely redshirt the 2015 season.

ATH Brian Cole, Saginaw Heritage HS, MI - #11 Athlete, #148/ESPN300
6'2", 199 lbs, 40-time: 4.50 sec

Doesn't really have a position yet. He could be a RB, WR, CB or S. My guess is he makes it as a WR, maybe even playing his freshman season. I expect them to redshirt him though, work on his route-running, and eventually start Cole as a WR.
S Tyree Kinnel, Wayne HS, OH - #12 Safety, #196/ESPN300
5'11", 200 lbs, 40-time: 4.40 sec (dubious)
With Jabrill Peppers most likely moving to play strong safety in the 46 defense, Kinnel will almost certainly redshirt in 2015 and eventually play FS in 2016 or '17. He'll need to bulk up a bit & work on coverage skills. Can't embed his more recent highlights, but here's the link.
6'7", 290 lbs, 40-time: N/A
Michigan's offensive line was the biggest weak spot last year. Newsome probably could use a redshirt year to bulk up (probably needs to add 30 lbs of muscle, to tell the truth) and work on technique, but all bets are off when it comes to this offensive line. Once again, no embed.

QB Alex Malzone, Brother Rice, MI - #16 Pocket QB, #236/Scout, #353/247Comp
6'1", 203 lbs, 40-time: 5.13 sec

Malzone's star controversially bumped up from a 3 to a 4. He's probably somewhere in between, call it a 3.5. Anyway, not as highly touted as Gentry but Malzone is the favorite to start in 2015. Harbaugh called the ensuing QB battle a "meritocracy", which is about what you'd expect, but experts give Malzone the edge due to his early enrollment & readiness to fit in with Harbaugh's system. He'll also have to beat out Shane Morris, Speight, and a handful of other QBs already on the roster. Reminds me a bit of Aaron Rodgers in terms of throwing a catchable ball & movement in the pocket.
3 Stars
DE Shelton Johnson, Atlantic Community HS, FL - #36 DE, #291/Scout, #364/247Comp
6'5", 225 lbs, 40-time: N/A
Like almost every recruit, he needs to bulk up (20-40 lbs in his case) and work on technique, but given Michigan's lack of depth on the edge, he might see the field in 2015. Like Malzone, he's more of a 3.5 star player and was a big get for Harbaugh, as Johnson had offers from FSU and Miami. Highlight clip from Jr season.
TE T.J. Wheatley Jr., Canisius HS, NY - #12 TE, #279/Scout, #312/247Comp
6'6", 250 lbs, 40-time: N/A
The name should be a little familiar, although he goes by "TJ" instead of "Tyrone". He had offers from some big-time schools, but ultimately picked his dad's alma mater over the rest. There are a couple of TEs ahead of him on the depth chart, but he's a beast and may leapfrog one of them.
DE Reuben Jones, Lake Gibson HS, FL - #58 DE, #786/247Comp
6'3", 223 lbs, 40-time: 4.89 sec
Harbaugh flipped him from Nebraska, so that's doubly good. Here's where I need to have autotext insert needs to add bulk, improve technique, but Jones, like Shelton, might be able to beat out a weak edge rushing field for some playing time in 2015. Out-played most of his contemporaries in the Rivals camp, so his overall rating might be lower than he deserves, possibly VERY low.
RB Karan Higdon, Riverview HS, FL - #78 RB, #478/247Comp
5'10", 190 lbs, 40-time: 4.5 sec
Fast north & south runner, has good vision and always seems to make the right cut. They'll redshirt him in 2015. Harbaugh flipped him from Iowa (doubly good), but waffling 4-star RB Mike Weber listed the Higdon signing as his main reason for signing with OSU. More on him later.
Borderline 3 Stars (ESPN lists as 3-star recruits, most other services list as 2-star or lower)
OT Nolan Ulizio, Lakota West HS, MI - #68 OT, #2,324/247Comp (really?)
6'5", 295 lbs, 40-time: N/A
Ulizio was also covered in an earlier post. He's a middlin' 2-to-3 star prospect who projects as a RT/OG down the road. Harbaugh flipped him from UConn. He'll definitely redshirt, probably won't see the field until his Jr/Sr season.
WR Grant Perry, Brother Rice, MI - #128 WR, #867/247Comp
5'11", 180 lbs, 40-time: N/A
His dad played at Ann Arbor Pioneer with Jim Harbaugh, so Perry flipping from Northwestern to Michigan wasn't entirely unforeseen. Perry fits the classic profile of a shifty, possession receiver, usually lining up in the slot. Think Wes Welker, but with less top-end speed & better hands. He'll definitely redshirt to start out. Check the Alex Malzone highlight clip above. Grant Perry is the #1 guy catching all those passes.
6'4", 276 lbs, 40-time: 5.26 sec
Another legacy case, might be a better pass blocker than run blocker right now. Redshirts in 2015, could develop into a solid starter in 2-3 years or so.
K Andrew David, Washington HS, OH - #10 Kicker, Overall unknown
5'8", 165 lbs, 40-time: who cares, he's a kicker
ESPN's evaluation is confusing. First they say "has explosive leg power" but "missed more FG than someone with his talent should". Then they say "accuracy looks good, but lacks a bit of distance and power". Ok. I'll put that down as a needs to add bulk, improve technique. He hit a 55-yarder in the Sailer competition, for what it's worth.
ATH Keith Washington, Pratville HS, AL - #117 Athlete, #954/247Comp
6'1", 161 lbs, 40-time: 4.30 sec
He flipped from Cal to Michigan, a bit of a surprise. Mainly played as a wildcat QB in HS, but will most likely suit up in college as a WR or DB. REALLY needs to bulk up, at least adding 20 lbs, and they need to figure out where he plays (DB is most likely).
Michigan ended signing day with 14 players signed, very much on the low side (by way of comparision, OSU had 16 4-star recruits). Their overall recruitment ranking is 40th, per ESPN. They missed out on most of their top targets, including Weber, TE Chris Clark, and the #4 overall prospect CB Iman Marshall (this was CLOSE and could've vaulted Michigan's class into the top 20. Oh well.). 4-star LB Roquan Smith might be in, or he might stick with UCLA. Weber, after decommitting from Michigan, committing to OSU, then waffling, ultimately decided to stay with Ohio State.
Weber did not impress me with how he handled the signing process. He was the #1 prospect coming out of the state of Michigan (coming out of Cass Tech), and the #14 RB in the country. He sounded like he was 50-50 on going to U of M or OSU, and ultimately made his decision on signing day. Take a look at a couple Mike Weber quotes from this article:
"I thought I was really the only back to get recruited in that class and when I heard (Higdon) was committed, it was like, 'Oh, well then there you go.'" Weber said. "That was the answer. That's what it was."
"I don't know how long would it take for Michigan to be back on top," he said. "I really don't know. But I know Ohio State. They proved they can do it." 
First, he dinked around so Michigan grabbed a 3-star RB to fill that need. If he isn't sure he can beat out Higdon, I'd rather have Higdon. Secondly, he's going to a team that already has 8 RBs on the roster! Dontre Wilson is a Soph, rated #5 RB coming out of high school in Texas. Curtis Samuel is a Fr, rated #8 RB out of HS. Ezekiel Elliott is a BEAST and going into his Jr year, no guarantee he goes pro. Jalin Marshall is a Fr and was the #1 RB in HS. There are 3 more Sophs on the roster, and all these guys are like 4 or 5-star recruits. If he's worried about playing time, OSU is not the school to sign with.
His second comment was pretty typical, but it demonstrated a lack of mental toughness. You know what OSU? Go ahead, keep Mike Weber. We'll stick with who we got, and we'll knock 2016 out of the park.

**Update - What's that Mike Weber? You're hurt because the guy who recruited you didn't keep his commitment? How ironic...