Detroit Lions Got It Right with Matthew Stafford in the 2009 Draft Minefield

Dean HoldenAnalyst IMarch 4, 2012

Boos rained down at the announcement of this pick, and those who did should be very sorry now.
Boos rained down at the announcement of this pick, and those who did should be very sorry now.Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

I think it's a fair assumption to say that the 2009 Draft Class is not going to go down as one of the best of all time.

It might be too soon to call, but hey, it's been three years. We're rapidly approaching the point where these guys go from developing young players to reclamation projects.

Not Matthew Stafford, though. A year ago, the "bust" talk surrounded Stafford because of a series of injuries. Now the only Stafford injury anyone is talking about is the broken finger that just might have been the only thing standing between him and every passing record ever last year

So, Matthew Stafford goes his first healthy 16-game season and becomes the fourth quarterback ever to throw for over 5,000 yards in a season, leading a long-suffering team to the playoffs for the first time since he was in middle school? Maybe I'm jumping the gun here, but I'd say the kid's pretty good.

"Well, of course he is," you say. "He was a No. 1 overall pick." Well yeah, that's true, and so what? Approximately half the fan base was against drafting Stafford in the first place (I'll admit to being part of that half). And it's not as if the Lions would have been just as well off had they made a different pick.

Had the Lions listened to us, we would likely have ended up with Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry or Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith. And where are they now?

Curry, the man considered the closest to a "can't miss" prospect in the 2009 draft, was drafted fourth overall by the Seattle Seahawks. Last season, he was demoted from the starting lineup by fourth-round rookie K.J. Wright and eventually traded to Oakland for a 2012 seventh-round pick and conditional 2013 fifth-round pick.

How about Jason Smith, the second overall pick who was supposed to anchor the St. Louis Rams' blind side for the next 10 years? He was moved from the left side to the right, and is currently on the Rams' likely cut list.

Okay, so not a great top tier in 2009. What about the rest of the top 10 that year?

Third: Tyson Jackson, DE, Chiefs - Has two sacks in three seasons of play.

Fifth: Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets - Looked better in GQ than he ever has on the football field, and he looked like an idiot in GQ.

Sixth: Andre Smith, OT, Bengals - His weight is down, but so is his skill level, and the Bengals' interest in him.

Seventh: Darrius Herward-Bey, WR, Raiders - To his credit, he had a strong 2011 campaign, and has been hampered by weak quarterback play. But his career receiving yardage and touchdown numbers are still inferior to Calvin Johnson's 2011 numbers.

Eighth: Eugene Monroe, OT, Jaguars - Actually isn't so bad, but still about the third-best left tackle in the AFC South.

Ninth: B.J. Raji, DT, Packers - Easily the second-best pick of the top ten, and a great fit at nose tackle in Green Bay's 3-4. But the Lions got Ndamukong Suh, so it's all good.

10th: Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers - At least a lengthy rookie holdout resulted in less time for him to be mediocre.

I could go on with Aaron Maybin (11th) and Knowshon Moreno (12th), but I think you get my point. The Lions could reasonably have drafted any of these guys, but they didn't.

They got, really, the only great player in the top tier of the 2009 draft, and stepped around a handful of draft bust landmines in the process.

Really, when is the last time could say that about the Lions' front office? And how nice is it that after years of picking busts out from between All-Pros, we have a front office that, in its first year, can do the exact opposite?