On Thursday, the Detroit Lions announced they have hired the Los Angeles Rams head of college scouting, Brad Holmes, to be their next general manager. After a long search, and weeks worth of interviewing over ten candidates, Holmes made himself stand out more than anyone else. As the head of college scouting with the Rams, Brad Holmes used all kinds of analytics to find which players he wanted to add to his team and which ones they should skip on.
Why Brad Holmes?
Holmes has a long history of being a very well respected scout. Current Rams GM Les Snead gave Holmes a ton of credit with their draft board and who they have drafted over the last ten years, including Aaron Donald.
“He used the senior bowl’s tracking data to get player’s speeds instead of their 40 times. When Kupp showed up as the faster player at the senior bowl but ran a slow 4.6, Holmes was confident he could take Kupp later in the draft as a steal” – Per @mfbanalytics on Twitter.
This just shows one of the ways Holmes uses every metric given to him to make his decisions and not just the conventional combine numbers. Holmes also uses draft picks as poker chips in his approach to building a roster. He also had considerable say in trades that brought pro-bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey and quarterback Jared Goff to the Rams. Both players were acquired with multiple first-round picks.
After looking back at who was picked with those picks in those trades it is safe to say that even with how high people hold first-round picks, that the Rams still got the best player in each of those deals. The Lions currently hold the seventh overall pick in this upcoming NFL draft, but Brad Holmes has a long trade history. If you add in the fact that the Lions only have five total picks, I can easily see the Lions moving down in the draft to acquire more capital.
How Will Brad Holmes Retool Detroit’s Roster?
Holmes has said a few times at this point he is not a fan of the term rebuilding and prefers to use retool the roster. Everybody knows the defense has the most work to do on the roster side after allowing the most points in a single season in franchise history. The Lions defense lacks an identity, they can not rush the passer very well and make the other teams’ quarterback feel uncomfortable. They do not have run-stuffing linebackers to take the run game away from their opponents. They also do not have lockdown corners that force a quarterback into thinking twice before throwing a different direction.
This all being said, Brad Holmes certainly has his work cut out for him in retooling this defense. He needs to find some blue-chip players that can make a difference and maybe bring the Lions into the realm of an average defense, which would have made a huge difference in a lot of games in 2020.
The offense, on the other hand, did pretty well this year for the Lions. Looking forward to 2021, however, is like looking at a car stuck on train tracks and unable to move. It does not look bad at the moment, but with pending free agents, trades looming, and so much to be done on the defensive side of the ball, it’s only a matter of time until things get ugly. How does Holmes retool the offense if the defense needs to spend the draft picks on their side of the ball as well?
I have discussed the option of trading back in the draft for more picks, which the Rams have done successfully a couple of times. A lot of teams have found guys in later rounds, but there’s a reason they call those players diamonds in the rough, they are hard to find. Further complicating the issues on offense is the uncertain future of the Lions’ current QB.
With the news breaking that Lions franchise QB Matthew Stafford has told the team it would be in both of their interest to part ways this offseason, it put Holmes in a very interesting predicament for many of the reasons I have already listed. For example, Holmes needs more draft picks, since the Lions only have total selections in this draft and many holes to fill. Trading Stafford for a haul of picks will help the team fill more than just one need.
However, a first-time general manager in his first week being told that his franchise quarterback wants out is not a great start. Reports say he knew before he took the job that this was a possibility, but now that it is here we will see what Brad Holmes has in mind for the Lions’ future.
Only time will tell how Brad Holmes will or will not work out for the Lions, but when they said they wanted someone that uses analytics to help build a team, they seem to have found the best one on the market. Holmes has also started hiring his staff with head coach Dan Campbell coming in from the New Orleans Saints.
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