Detroit Lions Re-Draft: 2003 Edition
Welcome back, time travelers. In this re-draft, we take you back to 2003. Matt Millen will forever be remembered for his draft failures; however, the 2003 draft begins the trend that made him infamous.
After selecting a receiver in the top ten of the draft, he would go on to do the same thing three times in the next four years. We all know what actually happened—now, let's look at what should have happened.
Round 1: Pick 2
Actual Pick: Charles Rogers, WR
Re-Draft: Andre Johnson, WR
Analysis: In Millen's defense, the decision to select a WR wasn't a bad idea. After all, the Lions had drafted Joey Harrington in the previous draft and it made sense to give their young signal caller a legitimate target. At the time, Rogers was drawing comparisons to All-Pro WR Randy Moss.
Being raised in Saginaw and coming off of a brilliant collegiate career at Michigan State, Rogers filled a need, provided talent and had the added appeal of being a homegrown talent. The problem with Rogers had nothing to do with his ability on the field, it had everything to do with his deficiencies off the field.
Rogers had drug problems dating back to college, and he simply couldn't kick the habit once he entered the league. Between drugs, a lack of effort and injuries, Rogers was sent packing in 2006.
Rogers' troubles didn't stop there: he was sued by the team for a breach of contract, and has had run ins with the law almost every year since. It's a really sad ending for such an athletically gifted human being.
While Rogers has spent his time in jail, Andre Johnson has spent his establishing himself as one of the top receivers in the league. Much like another WR with the last name Johnson who plays in Detroit, Andre is big and strong, and lets his play do all the talking for him. Until Calvin's big 2011, some analysts were asking who the better Johnson was.
Andre would be a fine addition to any franchise. He's a stand up player who gets the job done. What more can you ask of a player?
Round 2: Pick 34
Actual Pick: Boss Bailey, LB
Re-Draft: Osi Umenyiora, DE
Analysis: Hoping he would turn out to be just like big bro Champ, the Lions selected Boss Bailey in the second round. Early on, it seemed like a good investment when Bailey was selected to ESPN's All-Rookie team. However, it went downhill from there—he missed the entire 2004 season with a knee injury and never made an impact after that. In a publicity stunt, the Broncos attempted to pair the Bailey brothers together in 2008, but it never worked out.
Osi Umenyiora was a steal at the bottom of the second round. The two time All-Pro has been a key component on one of the most dominant defensive lines in football. The Giants' commitment to build the defensive line has been a huge reason for their success—a philosophy that the current Lions are trying to emulate. With two Super Bowl rings to show for it, Why not?
Round 3: Pick 66
Actual Pick: Cory Redding, DE
Re-Draft: Lance Briggs, LB
Analysis: Not a terrible pick up in the third round—Redding has been a steady contributor throughout his career. Initially drafted to play DE, it wasn't until being switched to DT that Redding made a real impact. The Lions used their 2007 franchise tag on the former Longhorn and followed up by making him the highest paid DT in the league.
I hate Lance Briggs—but, that's only because he plays for the enemy. All personal feelings aside, Briggs is a football stud. The man can flat out play. Brian Urlacher may be the heart of the Chicago defense, but Briggs may be the best player on the squad. You don't get seven Pro-Bowl and three All-Pro selections by accident. Once again, the Lions could have avoided their current linebacker woes by selecting Lance Briggs.
Round 4: Pick 99
Actual Pick: Artose Pinner, RB
Re-Draft: Asante Samuel, CB
Analysis: Pinner spent most of his time on the bench and was released in 2006. Minnesota picked him up and Pinner got his revenge by logging the best game of his career against the Lions, rushing for 125 yards and three touchdowns. He was released by Minnesota following that season and bounced around the league. His last stop? Detroit signed him for the 2008 preseason, but released him before the season started.
Asante Samuel is a testament to Bill Belichick's genius, who has made a habit of finding and developing mid-round talent. Drafted in the middle of the fourth round, Samuel found himself in the starting lineup after injuries sidelined starters Ty Law and Tyrone Poole. The Patriots would go on to win the Super Bowl and Samuel would establish himself as one of the premier corners in the league.
Seeking more money, Samuel signed on with the Eagles in 2008 and has had a very productive career since. Like the linebacker situation, Detroit could have avoided its current problems in the secondary by picking up Asante Samuel.
Round 5: Pick 137
Actual Pick: Terrace Holt, S
Re-Draft: Robert Mathis, DE
Analysis: Once again, Millen attempted to raid the gene pool. This time, he picked up the younger brother of former Rams great Torry Holt. Unfortunately, it didn't work out either. After being released by the Lions in 2006, Holt bounced around the league for a few years and was never heard of again.
In 2002, the Colts picked up All-Pro Dwight Freeney. In 2003 they found his counterpart in Robert Mathis. Mathis has battled some injuries during his career, but has provided a consistent pass rush over the last nine years. Always criticized for their defense, a healthy Mathis helped the Colts capture the Lombardi Trophy in 2007.
The most frustrating part of this particular pick? Mathis was picked immediately after Holt. Way to go, Millen.
Round 5: Pick 144
Actual Pick: James Davis, LB
Re-Draft: David Diehl, OT
Analysis: Davis played sparingly his rookie year and went on to record 88 tackles in his sophomore campaign. However, following a disappointing third year, he was released. He signed on with the Giants in 2007, but was again released following that season.
Other than the strength at defensive line, the other thing that stands out about the Giants is their talent along the offensive line. Diehl was selected in the middle of the fifth round and went on to start all 16 games his rookie year. He has played at both tackle and guard spots and has not missed a game yet.
Versatile and durable, Diehl is the type of player coaches covet—and we all know how much Schwartz covets versatility. If given the shot to sign Diehl, you could bet Schwartz would be all over Mayhew to get him on the roster.
Round 6: Pick 175
Actual Pick: David Kircus, WR
Re-Draft: Antonio Gates, TE
Analysis: David Kircus was another hometown WR favorite. He was part of the Grand Valley State team that took home the 2002 NCAA Division II National Football Championship. After two seasons with the Lions, Kircus made a few more stops around the league before being dropped by the Dolphins in 2008. His last stint was with the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL in 2010.
Millen might have been on the right track with the hometown pick theory. After working the Junior College circuit, Detroit native Antonio Gates attended Kent State. You may ask why I have Gates this low. Well, the reason is because he originally went undrafted. I'm sure every team is kicking themselves for letting this one get away. Fortunately, San Diego got a second chance.
Gronkowski, Hernandez, and Graham may re-write how the position is played, but Gates was arguably the best tight end over the last decade. He has garnered eight Pro-Bowl selections and made five All-Pro teams. Not bad for a guy nobody wanted. Rogers might be the biggest bust of this draft, but Gates goes down as the biggest steal.
Round 7: Pick 216
Actual Pick: Ben Johnson, OT
Re-Draft: Tony Romo, QB
Analysis: Ben Johnson is...I have no idea who Ben Johnson is and there is little to no information on him other than that he played for the Lions in 2003 and was released in 2004. Apparently, the Bears, Panthers and Chargers sent him to NFL Europe. In other words, he didn't make much noise in the NFL.
Unlike Ben, Tony Romo has made a lot of noise in the NFL. Romo is a bit of enigma: just when you think that he is a legitimate top 10 quarterback, he does something to make him look like a third string rookie. The talent is definitely there, but he hasn't quite figured out how to take the next step in his development. Love him or hate him, he would have been a definite upgrade over Joey Harrington.
Round 7: Pick 220
Actual Pick: Blue Adams, CB
Re-Draft: Kris Dielman, OG
Analysis: Following a one year stint with the Lions, Adams bounced around the league and last found himself on the Montreal Alouettes practice squad in 2009. He was recently hired as an assistant defensive backs coach with the Miami Dolphins.
San Diego had a less than spectacular draft in 2003. However, their undrafted free agent class was mind-blowing. Along with landing an All-Pro tight end, the Chargers discovered an All-Pro Guard in Kris Dielman. The former DT has gone on to make two All-Pro teams and travel to the Pro-Bowl four times. Dielman is a big reason the Chargers are consistently one of the better rushing teams in the league.
Round 7: Pick 236
Actual Pick: Brandon Drumm, FB
Re-Draft: Quintin Mikell, S
With talents like Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed and Eric Berry, Mikell finds himself among a group of safeties considered good, but not quite elite. After being signed by the Eagles, Mikell made a name for himself on special teams, but soon made his way to the starting lineup. Once again, with Mikell in the secondary, the Lions would not be so concerned with their current problems at safety.
Round 7: Pick 260
Actual: Travis Anglin, WR
Re-Draft: Fred Jackson, RB
Analysis: The Lions initially signed a three year contract with Anglin. However, he was waived in august of the same year.
Fred Jackson was a bit of a late bloomer, but has come on recently. After failing to catch on with the Bears, Broncos and Packers, Jackson earned MVP honors in the United Indoor Football League and later played in NFL Europe. Taking notice of Jackson's recent success, the Bills invited the journeyman RB to training camp in 2006. He worked his way into the starting lineup, and Jackson defied odds by rushing for at least 900 yards over the last three seasons. Were it not for an injury, Jackson may have found himself on this year's All-Pro team.
Round 1: Andre Johnson, WR
Round 2: Osi Umenyiora, DE
Round 3: Lance Briggs, LB
Round 4: Asante Samuel, CB
Round 5: Robert Mathis, DE
Round 5: David Diehl, OT
Round 6: Antonio Gates, TE
Round 7: Tony Romo, QB
Round 7: Kris Diehlman, OG
Round 7: Quintin Mikell, S
Round 7: Fred Jackson, RB
This draft year was overflowing with talent from top to bottom. Unfortunately, the Lions missed out completely.
The undrafted free agents alone would've provided the Lions with a stable offensive foundation. Umenyiora and Mathis would have provided the Lions with an elite pass rush, while Briggs, Mikell and Samuel would have brought stability to the back seven.
In my opinion, this is probably the worst draft, due to the amount of talent that the Lions skipped over.