The 6-10 Detroit Lions have become relevant once again in the NFL. Head Coach Jim Schwartz and GM Martin Mayhew has purged the stink of the Matt Millen era to the point where national analysts are starting to talk about the Lions being a playoff contender in the 2011 season. The last time the Lions went 6-10 was when Rod Marinelli was the head coach and the next season they went 0-16. So this draft was vital to the future of the franchise and the career of Schwartz and Mayhew going forward.
1/13 – Nick Fairley, DT – Auburn
At first blush this seems like a terrible decision by Mayhew and co. when you look at the talent on the board who were undoubtedly a higher need for the Lions in Prince Amukamara and Robert Quinn. But, after some thought I really like the selection. From a match up standpoint you have two DTs that require double teams one of them or a DE will have a one on one situation where as a DT/DE combo can always keep a tight end on a max protect block in the DT’s case you are asking a FB or RB to make the block on Suh or Fairley with some help with the OG. Let me add that interior O-Line is the biggest weakness in two of our biggest rivals the Bears and the Packers. I had Fairley projected as a top 5-10 pick so I think this was a good value at the 13th spot but I will be looking closely at the careers of Robert Quinn and Prince Amukamara.
2/44- Titus Young, WR – Boise State
Derrick Williams was a bust at the #3 WR position so the Lions go back into the talent pool to select Titus Young WR from Boise State. Anyone who watched the senior bowl practices instantly fell in love with Young’s rout running abilities and speed as well as his ability to catch the football. He’s a big play threat any time he touches the ball. Once again it isn’t a huge need for the Lions but the value was there in spades. I gave him a late first round to early/mid second round selection grade so this pick was of value.
2/57- Mikel Leshoure, RB – Illinois
The major question with the pick is did the Lions give up too much to move up for Leshoure? While losing the 4th round selection did hurt us in our hunt for a CB but the real question is are any of those guys (like Jalil Brown) going to be #1 CBs in the league? I don’t think so and as far as corner goes that is the only corner the lions really need. So in my opinion it wasn’t a great trade but it was an acceptable one for the excellent value they got. I honestly had Leshoure as a late first, early second grade as well (I was thinking New England). He adds a sturdy between the tackles player for the Detroit Lions to have as a work horse back and be the thunder to the Javid Best lightning. Great value but still not the greatest need.
5/157-Doug Hogue, OLB – Syracuse
A converted RB with great hands and decent coverage skills. Still a bit raw as a OLB prospect but he also won a first team all-Big East honors. An excellent athlete he had one of the best 40 yard dashes amongst linebackers at the combine. Hogue will likely be a special teams player for most if not all of his career. Do NOT expect him to start at LB any time soon. Add to that the fact that Chris Carter was available at this selection makes me like this pick even less.
7/209-Johnny Culbreath, OT – South Carolina State
Whenever I don’t know about a small school prospect (D2 and D3 type guys) I usually defer to Josh Buchanan over at JBScouting.com who said this about the Lion’s 7th round pick.
Martin Mayhew tends to know developmental O-Linemen pretty well the last tackle we grabbed in the 7th round Lydon Murtha lasted about two months on the practice squad he made the Miami Dolphin’s 56 man roster. Cullbreath was a Walter Camp All American (for the MEAC) and also participated in the HBCU Bowl all star game as well.
Overall Grade: A-
The Lions gained a ton of tallent and three players who will take at least 50% of the snaps on their side of the ball. That said if they do not address the OLB and CB issues in free agency this offseason the Lions draft will highly drop in my letter grade.