Number of Picks: Six
Number of Picks on Lions' 2011 Active Roster: Four (Ndamukong Suh, Jahvid Best, Amari Spievey, Willie Young)
Best Pick: Ndamukong Suh, DT (First Round, Second overall)
For the second year in a row, the Lions' best pick is their first one. Imagine that.
Suh has had a bit of a rough sophomore season, but we're getting into the drafts that are a little too early to tell now, and considering his rookie season, it's perfectly reasonable to consider him the best Lions pick in this draft at this point.
By all accounts, Suh is still a strong, hardworking player, he just made a different kind of splash in his second season than he did in his first: the wrong kind.
Still, I fully expect Suh's struggles to be a footnote by the end of his third season.
Worst Pick: Jahvid Best, RB (First Round, 30th overall)
Whoa, whoa, calm down there. I know the guy has been hurt. And I know I've been chastising people for giving up on Matthew Stafford after two injury-plagued seasons.
But there are two key differences. Stafford didn't have injury red flags coming out of college. And Jahvid hasn't yet proven the injury concerns wrong like Stafford did this season. In fact, he has made his existing injury concerns worse with more concussions as a pro.
Can he prove the doubters wrong next year? Of course. Injuries can be a pretty fickle and random thing sometimes, so if Best goes a season healthy, all the injury talk goes out the window. And he's not the "worst pick" because he can't play well and stay healthy, it's because he hasn't yet.
Like I said, much of the 2010 draft is still too soon to call.
Best Value Pick: Willie Young, DE (Seventh Round, 213th overall)
Young played sparingly for the Lions in 2011 as a situational pass-rusher, getting only a handful of snaps in 14 games.
And he still managed to notch three sacks in the regular season, and a sack-fumble on Drew Brees in the playoffs.
And he's only a seventh-round pick coming off his second season. Because he's listed as a lanky (for a defensive lineman) 6' 5", 251 pounds, he'll never be a dominant run-stopper. But his speed and agility are the stuff dominant edge rushers (I'm thinking Dwight Freeney) are made of.
It will be interesting to see how much Young develops over the next couple of seasons, especially in the Lions' "get to the QB above all else" scheme. He's already a solid role player, but he could become far, far more.
Biggest Disappointment: Jason Fox (Fourth Round, 128th overall)
Really, this pick and the Jahvid Best pick could flip-flop. Neither is a bust (yet), but both are disappointing on account of spending a disproportionate amount of time on the inactive list.
Fox has effectively been strength training for two years. In 2010, he spent most of the year basically getting up to a good NFL weight, only playing in limited action late. In 2011, he might have played some, but he was one of many who mysteriously suffered the exact same foot injury in training camp.
So after two years, the Lions have a fourth-round pick whose capabilities are almost a complete unknown. If this were a Matt Millen draft, he would just have been cut and nobody would ever have heard from him again.
But this was a Mayhew draft, which means Fox may actually be a good football player. He just has to keep himself healthy long enough for us to find out.
Overall Grade: B+
Suh is great when playing within himself, Best is great when healthy and Spievey is still a project with much to learn (but already starting quality).
Young was a steal in the seventh, Fox is an unknown and "Mr. Irrelevant." Tim Toone, is, well, irrelevant.
This draft still needs another season or two to simmer, but everybody excepts Toone is still with the team and brimming with potential. The only thing holding the grade back is uncertainty about injuries (Best, Fox) and consistency (Suh, Spievey, Young), because everybody has shown flashes of greatness, given the opportunity.