Friday, April 5, 2013

Evaluating the Detroit Lions' 2012 Draft 1 year later

FIRST ROUND
Pick #23 Riley Reiff OT Iowa
Reiff is listed as the starting left tackle at this point, and that is exactly what the Lions drafted him to be.  They have shown their faith in him when they let former draft pick Gosder Cherilus leave in free agency.  I would not be surprised to see them continue to target linemen, but Reiff looks like he could be a start to this unit turning the corner, and keeping Matt Stafford alive.

SECOND ROUND
Pick #54 Ryan Broyles WR Oklahoma
Broyles is the starting slot receiver for the Lions, and he had a strong rookie season finishing with 22 catches and a pair of TD's.  That was more than they expected with with him coming back from knee surgery.  I expect a big year from this year.

THIRD ROUND
Pick #85 Dwight Bentley CB Louisiana-Lafayette
Bentley was viewed as a project with good upside coming out of college, and he is going into his second year at the top of the depth chart.  That is largely projection at this point after he missed quite a bit of time with a shoulder injury.  He was very productive early in the season, and the Lions feed good about their draft.

FOURTH ROUND
Pick #125 Ronnell Lewis OLB Oklahoma
Lewis collected no stats and was out for the second half of the season, but after the losses along the D-Line that Detroit experienced this off-season, he is at the top of the depth chart.  I think that says more about the team than it does Lewis, but he looks like he will get his shot this year.
FIFTH ROUND
Pick #138 Tahir Whitehead OLB Temple
Whitehead was viewed as an athlete who would help on special teams and maybe grown into a linebacker at this level.  That looks to be pretty much spot-on.  He played in every game last year and is second on the depth chart here before the draft, but there is not much buzz around him.
Pick #148 Chris Greenwood CB Albion
The big corner from the small school is still on the team, which is a start....especially since he did not appear in a game last year.  He had surgery for a sport hernia last May and did not recover in time to help out during his rookie season.

SIXTH ROUND
Pick #196 Jonte Green DB New Mexico State
Green is going to be in a battle with Ron Bartell for the nickel spot this year, assuming that the Lions don't draft one of the top corners this year.  That's awfully good for a second year player taken in the 6th round. 
SEVENTH ROUND
Pick #223 Travis Lewis OLB Travis Lewis Oklahoma
Lewis' main goal, for his rookie year, had to be to stay healthy.  He managed to do that after the Bye week and has worked himself into a spot as Stephen Tulloch's backup.  He was a gamble pick after being an oft-injured leader for the Sooners, and will be a steal if he can stay healthy.

ROOKIE FREE AGENTS
Kellen Moore QB Boise State
Moore was an interesting pickup for Lions as a backup QB as he in no way resembles Matthew Stafford.  That said, reports that Moore's relatively weak arm was going to prevent him from sticking in the league, seem to have been exaggerated.

Patrick Edwards WR Houston
There weren't many balls left after the top 3-4 receivers in Detroit, but Patrick Edwards is going to play in this league.  He was extremely productive at Houston, and has the potential to be a great slot receiver in the NFL.  Whether that will be for Detroit, or someone else, is a fair question.

Rodney Austin G Elon
Austin didn't play as a rookie, but earned a contract off of the Lions' practice squad and is currently listed as second on the depth chart at left guard.

Ricardo Silva S Hampton
Silva is part of a deep group of safeties in Detroit, but was productive as an undrafted rookie, finishing with 37 tackles and a pick.

Jimmy Saddler-McQueen DT Texas A and M-Kingsville
Saddler-McQueen is not likely to be a starter anytime soon with Suh and Fairley in front of him, but he worked his way to second string, which is an accomplishment for the undrafted kid out of the little school in Texas.

SUMMARY
This was a solid draft for the Lions.  There was not much shine to it, but they filled needs early and improved the depth of their team in spots where they needed it.  Their roster is far from complete, but if a hand ful of these players can show that they are on the depth chart for their ability, rather than due to lack of depth, the Lions will be look better than they have in years.
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