Lions have their eye on “The only CB that could stop CJ” for the July 12 NFL supplemental draft!

Hondo S. Carpenter

Lions have their eye on “The only CB that could stop CJ” for the July 12 NFL supplemental draft!
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Maybe you don’t know him, but guess what? The Detroit Lions know who Paul Oliver is. The Georgia cornerback who left early and has entered the NFL supplemental draft is a stud and every Lions fan knows that the CB position is hurting and he can help.
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Let me tell you a little about him. Oliver had considered about declaring for the regular draft, but chose to come back for a fifth year to the Bulldogs. He was unable to make it academically. That, however, is not a reason that would matter in the Lions' thinking process for a player, and to be frank, it shouldn’t!Â
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I have already told you what I heard from a player after the NFL combine when he tried to tell the Lions (I.E. Rod Marinelli) how well he had done in school and other off-field activities and awards. Marinelli looked him straight in the eye and told him, “I don’t care. Do you love football?” It is that mentality that won’t bother the Lions. Marinelli has told the media on several occasions how tape doesn’t lie.Â
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One NFL scout from an AFC team told me, “In this league it is about how a guy can play. Oliver may have had issues with academics at UG, but he certainly has no issues between the stripes, and off the field he is the total gentleman. We just are set at that spot so I can’t see us being players, but I think the Lions will have some of Rod’s friends in the hunt for his services that they will have to contend with. I could see him going to the Colts, Bears or even the Steelers and all those team have the same tree and the same M.O. They are all Dungy type teams that run the Tampa Two and he is the prototypical Tampa Two guy.”
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It is precisley the tape that has some in the Lions' organization salivating. While watching film of new star wide receiver Calvin Johnson preparing for the regular draft, the Lions continued to notice that only one player ever really stopped Johnson and that was #8 of the Georgia Bulldogs Paul Oliver.  Â
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“No doubt about it, he was the only CB that could stop CJ on film, he could be a real special player. I like how he moves his body and he does have NFL technique already, along with impressive discipline of his body,” was how one employee of the Lions described him to me.
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When he took the field Wednesday on the Georgia campus, the young man that many projected as a high first round pick next season did not show blazing speed (according to one NFL team scout not with the Lions it was a 4.51), but again in the case of the Lions they are tape people. I also am not worried about his speed since he has run consistent 4.4’s while at Georgia and on film it is very clear he has no issues staying with any receiver. Rod Marinelli told me before the NFL draft (he was not speaking about Oliver at the time but about how he judges a player), “Tape tells you things. You can think what you want and interview people, but at the end of the day can a guy play football and the film tells you that. No question about it.”
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Using Coach Marinelli’s thinking process (and I agree with it), then the Lions shouldn’t care that Oliver’s workout was not as flashy as maybe the fans would like. In fact, you would think that they would be glad that his leaving school early and not having shown prime time speed at his workout might drop his cost, but not his production.
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Mike Martz told me Calvin Johnson was “the best I have ever seen coming out of college.” When you watch the tape, Oliver was the only one to shut him down. The tape doesn’t lie, and the Lions should pick Oliver. I have done constant research into this young man and you can’t find a wart on the kid. His coaches and teammates love him. He loves football and other than struggling academically he is a high character kid that can hit, cover and has speed. Three things that are desperately needed in the Lions Tampa Two system and even more importantly in their anemic CB group.
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In case you're unfamiliar with how the NFL supplemental draft works, it will follow the same sequential order as the NFL regular draft. Therefore the Lions will get the #2 pick overall in all rounds. Should the Lions exercise a pick, let's say they use a second round pick (#2 overall in that round) then they would lose their first second round pick in the 2008 draft. Make no mistake that the single biggest place of need on this team is the CB position and Oliver has all the tools to not only help, but also be a considerable force. If you loved the film on CJ (and they did) then you have to be impressed with Oliver (they are), and if you could take him in the second round (where he will be available) it seems foolish to let him slide. The Lions need him and he has all of the character issues that the Lions covet off the field. This one takes no mental thought process.
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Want a treat? Get some film and watch this kid. He is a special talent and although I am certainly not anointing him the next Hall of Fame kid, only he can demonstrate that when he gets to the league. I am saying that if you get a chance to take a kid like him with a second round pick then it would be foolish not to. He has all the tools that you will pay for with a 2008 first rounder and you get him for the cost of a 2007 second round guy.
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The Lions don’t want to go the free agent route; they want to build from within. I love that philosophy and I agree with it. Let me make this real plain: here is a chance to get a difference maker and to get him for a relatively low cost, make the pick and be done with it. If you don’t pick him, then next year you are going to have to take another CB because what you have now will not preclude that. Just push the clock ahead and get him for less money. You loved CJ, now love the one guy that was good enough to stop him…Please!

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