Did the Lions pass on a linebacker because of Larry Foote?

Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com speculates that the reason why the Lions passed on a middle linebacker in last weekend’s draft was because they knew the Steelers would release Larry Foote shortly thereafter.

Let’s put a couple of factors together and see what we come up with — the Detroit Lions passed on a taking a middle linebacker in the first two rounds, Pittsburgh inside linebacker Larry Foote was just released in a widely anticipated move and Foote has not hidden his desire to return to Detroit and play for his hometown Lions.

Many Lions fans were surprised when the team passed on Ohio State’s James Laurinaitis and USC’s Rey Maualuga with the team’s No. 20 and No. 33 selections. It’s possible the Lions knew that Foote would be released soon and they might be in the running to sign him. Another factor why the Lions would pass on a rookie and try to get Foote — or another veteran — is the fact that defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham has a well-documented disdain for starting a lot of rookies at the same time.

Foote, who will be 29 in June, has played seven years in the league and has started the last five seasons and hasn’t missed a game due to injury in the last six years. He’s also helped the Steelers win a couple of those Lombardi Trophy things.

Foote graduated from Pershing High School in Detroit and already expressed interest in playing in his home state earlier this offseason. If Mayhew did pass on a linebacker in the draft knowing that Foote would be available soon thereafter, it was a clever move on his part and it would certainly help answer some questions regarding the Lions draft.

If the Lions do sign Foote, then the selections of Bradon Pettigrew and Louis Delmas in the first two rounds look pretty solid – especially considering both players were the top-rated prospects at their respective positions.

Of course, if Foote signs with someone else, then this move will backfire horribly because Detroit would be left with Jordon Dizon as their starting middle linebacker. And given that Matt Millen drafted Dizon, chances are the young man doesn’t have much upside.

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65 Observations about the 2009 NFL Draft

I’m going to channel my inner Peter King and dole out a crap load of quick-hit thoughts on last weekend’s NFL draft, which by the way, was one of the more unpredictable drafts I have ever witnessed.

Below are 65 observations from the 2009 NFL Draft. Why 65? I don’t know – don’t worry about it. Originally I came up with 62, but I know that some people freak out when things aren’t in round numbers, so I added three more. But the number 65 means nothing, so don’t waste time searching for its meaning.

Obviously these are all my opinions and feel free to debate them. But before you do, I already know that it supposedly takes three seasons to fully grade a draft and that no prospect is a sure thing. Again, I’m projecting here – so lighten up and let’s strike up some good debates.

1. Outside of the fact that he’s now a millionaire and could buy a small country, I kind of feel bad for Matthew Stafford. You know some halfwit fan or media member can’t wait to utter the comment, “For $72 million, he should have made that pass.” I hate the fact that money plays such a huge role in sports because when you get down to it, completing a pass, making a catch or kicking a field goal has nothing to do with how many zeros are on your paycheck.

2. I know I’m not saying anything new here, but the rookie salary structure is a joke. When teams don’t even want a top 5 pick anymore because of the financial burden that comes with it, there’s a huge problem.

3. The kid could turn out to be the next Ryan Leaf on the field, but Lion fans have to at least take comfort in the fact that Matthew Stafford is saying all the right things at this point. He did an interview with the NFL Network on Sunday and he talked about how he wants to be a starter right away, but also wants to learn and be patient in his development. From all accounts, he looks like he has a great head on his shoulders.

4. If Tyson Jackson turns out to be the next Richard Seymour like Chiefs’ GM Scott Pioli believes, then nobody is going to remember (or care) that he was taken with the third overall pick in a weak draft class.

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Official 2009 NFL Draft Post & Rumor Mill

As the NFL draft rolls on over the next two days, I’ll post picks, thoughts and stay on top of any rumors that I hear and post them here. Enjoy.

2:55PM ET: Mike Mayock of the NFL Network claims that his “cell phone is blowing up” with reports that the Jets are trying to trade up to No. 2 for USC quarterback Mark Sanchez.

3:19PM ET: According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Dolphins will select Connecticut cornerback Darius Butler at No. 25.

3:22PM ET: The Rams could trade back into the first round for middle linebacker Rey Maualuga according to NFL Network’s Steve Wyche.

3:38PM ET: I’m shocked the Chiefs passed on Aaron Curry, but all the pre-draft rumors that said Tyson Jackson would be their pick were obviously dead on. Jackson is the best 3-4 end in the draft and obvious was a commodity.

3:40PM ET: The Browns got exactly what they wanted with this trade. They weren’t in love with anyone at No.5 and managed to trade out. Great move – I wonder what kind of ransom the Browns got.

3:42PM ET: Mike Mayock just made a great point about the Jets trading up to No. 5. What team did they want to get ahead of to go all the way up to No. 5?

3:45PM ET: DE Kenyon Coleman, QB Brett Ratliff, S Abram Elam No. 17 and No. 57. A sleeper in this deal is Elam, who is one of the more promising safeties in the draft.

3:52PM ET: The Bengals select OT Andre Smith – another low character guy for their low-character roster. He is a tremendous talent, but he comes with a ton of baggage.

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Falcons trade 2010 second round pick to Chiefs for Gonzalez

According to FOXSports.com, the Falcons traded their second round pick in the 2010 draft to the Chiefs in exchange for tight end Tony Gonzalez.

This deal works well for all parties involved. The Falcons wanted to give quarterback Matt Ryan a target that could attack the middle of the field in the passing game and presumably didn’t want to use their first round pick on a tight end prospect like Brandon Pettigrew with so many needs on the defensive side of the ball.

Gonzalez made it obvious after last season that he didn’t want to play for a team in rebuilding mode. While Atlanta still has a long ways to go in filling holes on the defensive side of the ball, its postseason run last year indicates that they have enough talent to win now – especially on the offensive side of the ball.

At 33 years old, Gonzo is no spring chicken but he hardly shows signs of slowing down after hauling in 96 receptions for 1,058 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. And that was with Tyler Thigpen taking most of the snaps under center. He might not be as involved in the Falcons’ offense as he was in Kansas City because Atlanta relies so much on Michael Turner and the running game, but he no doubt makes Ryan and receivers Roddy White and Michael Jenkins better around him.

The Chiefs wanted a second round pick as compensation for Gonzo and although they didn’t get it for this year’s draft, they ultimately got what they were asking for. And considering the Falcons have never had back to back winning seasons in franchise history, there’s a good chance that their second round pick will be higher next year than it is this year.

Kiper’s latest mock has Sanchez falling to Redskins

In Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft, he has USC quarterback Mark Sanchez falling to the Redskins at No. 13.

5. Cleveland Browns (4-12)
Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech: The stress fracture in his left foot shouldn’t affect his draft status. He’s a big-time player who should have a Larry Fitzgerald-type career in the NFL.

13. Washington Redskins (8-8)
Mark Sanchez, QB, USC: Sanchez definitely is one of the top five to eight players available in this draft, and getting him here would be a bit of a steal, because had he returned to USC for his senior season, he likely would have been the No. 1 overall pick.

14. New Orleans Saints (8-8)
Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State: Wells is a nice fit for the Saints after they let running back Deuce McAllister go in the offseason. He could be a perfect complement to Reggie Bush.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)
Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State: Freeman is an interesting prospect because he throws a great ball and has imposing size at nearly 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds. However, his inconsistent play puts him in the boom-or-bust category.

24. Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State: Pettigrew remains the No. 1 tight end on the board and would be a help to young Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

It’s easy to disagree with someone’s mock just days before the draft, but the above are the projections I find the most fault in.

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