Archive for May, 2012

 Detroit Lions – B – (2.875) – #11/32

1.23 Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

2.22 Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma

3.22 Dwight Bentley, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette 

4.30 Ronnell Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma

5.03 Tahir Whitehead, OLB, Temple

5.13 Chris Greenwood, CB, Albion

6.15 Jonte Green, CB, New Mexico State

7.16 Travis Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma

The Detroit Lions put together another strong draft under the dynamic duo of Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz, striking talent and value with just about every one of their picks. Riley Reiff will be the eventual successor to Jeff Backus at left tackle and should be able to unseat the incumbent starter at right tackle in Gosder Cherilus from the word “go”. With Stanford guard David DeCastro still on the board when the Lions made their selection, many fans were clamoring and clenching their fists in hopes of landing what looks to be an All-Pro type player. However, the Lions stuck to their guns and drafted the player who presents more value to them and plays the more premier position in the NFL. The impact Reiff can have simply outweighed the type of impact DeCastro could present, especially in an offense where the passing game is number one and the protection of Matthew Stafford is imperative. Many fans will be reminded of the last time the Lions missed out on an All-Pro type player by one pick in which guard Steve Hutchinson was drafted right before the Lions in the 2001 NFL Draft, leaving the Lions to take Jeff Backus. However, the difference is this time the Lions had the chance to land a player of DeCastro’s talent but decided Reiff presented the better value to them. Unfortunately, I imagine many Lions fans will look back on this draft down the road and point to the type of player we could have had in DeCastro, who should go on to have a terrific career. Nevertheless, Reiff was the right decision and although he may not end up competing at the same level of DeCastro, the Lions got their future left tackle for the next 10-15 years at pick 23, which is rare to find in terms of value at that spot in the draft.

In the second round the Lions landed Oklahoma wide receiver Ryan Broyles who has set just about every record for a collegiate receiver at the Division I level. Broyles was a surprise pick that caught everyone off-guard as the Lions surely needed to upgrade their secondary and had other players like Wisconsin center Peter Konz, Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David and Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry all still on the board to choose from. However, the Lions brass once again made a move they thought would best impact our team and Broyles should be an instant slot receiver who adds another dimension to a dangerous aerial attack. Before the draft Schwartz hinted that if you are drafting to fill a need you are chasing a moving target. Schwartz pointed to last years situation in which the Lions believed their running attack was set, especially after spending a 2nd round pick on Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure to pair with incumbent starter Jahvid Best, only to see both end up on the injured reserve not even half way through the 2011 season. Wide receiver would seem to be a position of strength with players like Madden cover boy Calvin Johnson, sensational rookie Titus Young and savvy veteran Nate Burleson. However, Burleson has found himself on the wrong side of 30 and only has so many more seasons of quality football left in him. His leadership and knowledge is undeniable and now would seem to be the perfect time to give him some young cubs to train and mentor to become true Lions. The thought amongst Lions fans I have spoken with is Broyles would have been available with our 3rd round pick and we should have went with one of the many secondary players who could have helped out our problem on the back-end. While that argument has some value, I find it hard to believe as there was a run on wide receivers towards the beginning of the 3rd round. Broyles was a player many would have considered a potential first round pick before he tore his ACL, ending his senior season and collegiate career. How quickly we forget how dominant this player was at his level of competition as one only needs to look at these numbers to decipher just how important Broyles was to his Oklahoma team. Before Broyles injury the Sooners were 7-1 and Landry Jones had a completion percentage of 66.48 with a 26/9 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions. After his injury the Sooners went 3-2 and Jones’s stats faltered to a 57.48 completion percentage and an touchdown to interception ratio of 3/6. Those type of stats would seem to indicate that Broyles had a very large impact on the Sooner’s success, so if the Lions did their homework and believe he can come back to his pre-injury form I have absolutely no problems/reservations with the selection. In fact the pick feels eerily similar to last year when the Lions spent a 2nd round pick on a wide receiver in Boise State’s Titus Young. Young went on to enjoy a very good rookie season, after many Lions fans bashed and questioned the pick. I would guess many Lions fans will once again be glad Mayhew and company are the ones making the decisions a year from now when they look back on some of the thoughts and comments they have made in regards to Broyles and his value in this offense. The Lions were one injury away from being vulnerable and thin, with the selection of Broyles the Lions have added strength, stability and depth to a position of extreme importance in which you can never have too many weapons and pass catchers.

In the 3rd the Lions finally addressed the secondary, much to the delightment of the fan base with the selection of Louisiana-Lafayette corner Dwight “Bill” Bentley. My first exposure to Bentley came during Senior Bowl week in which he consistently caught my attention for all the right reasons. He proved he belonged and competed from repetition to repetition while taking to coaching. Bentley is a Pahokee, Florida native who played with Janoris Jenkins in high school (imagine trying to throw against that defense). While he may not have the upside, talent and athleticism of Jenkins who some Lions fans secretly wanted in the 1st despite his off field concerns; Bentley isn’t too far behind and comes with a lot less baggage. I graded Bentley during his performance against San Diego State in their bowl game this past year and came away very impressed with his natural ability. He played off-man and showed outstanding instincts in trusting his eyes and breaking on the football. While he is a little thin, he was exceptional as a blitzing corner off the edge and would seem to be an ideal fit in the type of defense the Lions employ. Bentley will be able to come in and contribute in nickel packages right away and should do well lined up over the slot due to his quick feet and loose hips. Another strong pick by the Lions brass with Bentley would seem to be a very willing competitor, which Mayhew has said he values most in defensive backs.

The fourth round brought yet another strong selection who fits right in with the Detroit mentality. Oklahoma defensive player Ronnell Lewis, who is also known as the “Hammer” for his bone wrenching hits and physical style of play. Lewis is an extremely powerful and physical player who should bring instant return on investment with his special teams ability. While it is not yet known how the Lions will deploy Lewis’s skill set, whether it be at defensive end or outside linebacker you can be rest assured he will be a quality player who adds depth to a defense with a plethora of pass rushers. Lewis has a good first step and is extremely explosive in tight quarters. His closing speed and acceleration is very impressive and he does an excellent job using his hands to stack and shed/disengage from would be blockers. His ability to set the edge and anchor against the run will make him an ideal man out on the edge as he also shows impressive awareness, instincts and integrity to keep contain. I will be very interested to see how they use Lewis as he will most likely be a situational pass rusher early on in his career. If it wasn’t for the fact that Lewis lacks a “true” position in the NFL, he would have likely been drafted much higher than where he actually was. However, where the Lions secured his talents was a matter of value and adding talent at a spot in the draft where they felt comfortable.

The remainder of the Detroit Lions 2012 NFL Draft saw them address the defense yet again with the selections of LB Tahir Whitehead, CB Chris Greenwood, CB Jonte Green and LB Travis Lewis. The Lions traded up and sent a 2014 4th round draft pick the division rival Minnesota to secure the rights to Temple LB Tahir Whitehead. This was perhaps the pick I had the most problems with as I hate trading away future draft picks especially within the division unless it is a player I feel very strong about. With that said the Lions must feel pretty strong about Tahir to make that kind of committment and investment in his services so I can live with it as long as it plays out better than I imagine it will. The Lions also added local product of Albion College in Chris Greenwood who put on an absolute show for scouts in attendance at Michigan’s pro-day in which he ran a blistering 4.41 forty with an impressive 43 inch vertical and 11-2 broad jump at 6-1 193 lbs. With that type of length and athleticism its hard to see why the Lions wouldn’t consider making an investment in his undeniable potential and upside. This is perhaps the player I am most excited to see develop as he most definitely has the physical ability to compete at the next level. Going against the Lions cast of receivers in practice daily should give him much to work on as he continues to develop, especially against Megatron who has the same freakish ability and size but to an even greater degree. Greenwood’s film shows a player with considerable tightness in his hips which could lead to a move to safety, however if he is able to improve we could be looking at one of the better steals in this draft. With their last selection the Lions landed another Oklahoma product in linebacker Travis Lewis who was excellent value at this point in the draft. Lewis had a tremendous Junior season and was on his way to becoming a potential first round pick before playing with a nagging foot injury in which his production and tape suffered. Nonetheless, Travis Lewis is a player who plays the game with great urgency and passion as he always seems to be around the football. He will add nice depth and competition to our linebackers group that has a nice combination of youth and veteran presence.

All in all the Lions managed to get quite a nice haul. I also very much appreciate the fact we were able to land Boise State QB Kellen Moore and Houston WR Patrick Edwards. Both players should have a very good shot of making the final roster, Moore as the 3rd string QB and Edwards as the 5th or 6th receiver. With another strong draft the Lions have continued their ascension up the NFL ladder and could compete for a world title as early as this season if everything goes as planned and falls into place. The pieces are there and the team has been built for long-term success instead of short-term gains as it was in the past. The Lions and their faithful fan base are finally have some people with steady hands on the wheel with a clear path for this team, unlike the previous regime who seemed to drunkenly stumble their way through the entire process and end up in places we would rather not remember or talk about (ie: Wendy’s Drive Thru).

My 2012 Detroit Lions Draft:

1.23 David DeCastro, G, Stanford

2.22 Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska

3.22 Jayron Hosley, CB Virginia Tech

4.30 Cam Johnson, DE, Virginia

5.03 Danny Coale, WR, Virginia Tech

5.13 Ryan Lindley, QB, San Diego State

6.15 Nate Potter, OT, Boise State

7.16 Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia