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Did Lions do well in draft?

May 6, 2012
CRAIG?REMSBURG - Senior Sports Writer ( , The Mining Journal

The Detroit Lions have done well in the last few NFL drafts.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford, tight end Brandon Pettigrew and safety Louis Delmas were plucked in 2009; defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and running back Jahvid Best were drafted in 2010; and defensive tackle Nick Fairley, wide receiver Titus Young and running back Mikel Leshoure - who sat out last season with a knee injury - were selected in 2011.

It certainly didn't hurt that the Lions were so bad they enjoyed a high draft position in each of those years.

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They drafted a total of seven players from No. 1 to No. 44 overall in those years. It's hard to mess up when you're drafting that high, though we are speaking of the Lions here.

That said, after a surprising 10-6 season a year ago, the Lions only had three selections in the top 85 overall in this draft. Getting a true impact player in that range becomes harder as the available talent shrinks.

Offensive tackle Riley Reiff of Iowa, the team's No. 1 draft pick (23rd overall), should be able to play 10-plus years in the NFL. He was considered by many to be a top-10 pick and was the second offensive lineman picked in the draft.

Why he slipped down to the Lions is a good question. But he is 6-foot-6 and 313 pounds with reported good foot speed.

The Lions desperately needed help on defense, especially at cornerback. But Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew, who was true to his word, said the team would pick the best available players regardless of need, except at QB.

When some top defensive backs were picked before Detroit's turn came up, Mayhew addressed another need - though not as crucial - that being along the offensive line with Reiff.

But then Mayhew made a curious pick at No. 2 (54th overall). He drafted wide receiver Ryan Broyles of Oklahoma. The team already has Calvin "Megatron" Johnson, Nate Burleson, Young and even backup Stefan Logan at the wideout.

That receiving corps helped Stafford throw for 5,038 yards last season with 41 touchdowns, so the group can't be too shabby.

Picking Broyles - five months removed from surgery for a torn ACL - instead of a defensive player is puzzling.

The team then went on to draft six defensive players, including cornerback Bill Bentley at No. 3 (85th overall) of Louisiana-Lafayette (who?).

But will any of them even make the Lions' roster, let alone make an impact?

Albion cornerback Chris Greenwood, the Lions' pick in the fifth round, is 6-1, 193, with reported speed and great leaping ability.

He played in the East-West all-star game and wowed the Lions in a predraft private workout. Mayhew called Greenwood's workout "phenomenal" and the athlete "physically gifted."

Maybe so, but if the CB is that good, what was he doing in the fifth round? Why not higher? And did he play against enough top-notch talent in NCAA Division III to shine in the NFL?

With the players they drafted, the Lions aren't significantly better than they were at the end of last season.

You really don't usually know how good a draft group is until a year or two down the road.

If Bentley and/or Greenwood make the Lions' roster and shore up the team's weak secondary, then this latest draft could be a good one.

If not, Mayhew and Co. may have fumbled the ball.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is



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