2012 NFL Draft: Grading the Detroit Lions New Draftees
The Detroit Lions found an all-important balance between value and need in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Players like offensive tackle Riley Reiff and cornerback Dwight Bentley can step in immediately and contribute.
Later round guys such as linebacker Travis Lewis and cornerback Chris Greenwood need to develop their skill sets.
The Lions addressed needs while avoiding reaching for prospects they coveted (except for a certain second-round pick).
Is it too soon to grade and rank how these players will turn out in the NFL?
Is it too soon to judge the value of where they were drafted and their potential?
So let's do the latter and rank the Lions draft picks and give them letter grades as well.
First up is a pick that never should have been made...
8. Round 5: Tahir Whitehead, OLB, Temple
Drafting Tahir Whitehead out of Temple, a true project player, just does not make much sense in the fifth round.
Tons of others linebackers remained on the board with better size, speed and skill.
I cannot see Whitehead ever developing into an NFL starter or really even a quality backup.
He is not gifted athletically and lacks NFL instincts.
7. Round 2: Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma
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Taking Ryan Broyles in the second round was one of the biggest reaches in the entire draft.
He is coming off a torn ACL and could have easily been available later on in the process.
That being said, he does bring tremendous skill to the position if healthy.
Broyles is a great route runner and is fearless over the middle of the field.
He can be an instant slot weapon alongside Titus Young and makes the Lions receiving depth even more formidable.
But why take him so early?
6. Round 6: Jonte Green, CB, New Mexico State
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New Mexico State cornerback Jonte Green was the last of three CBs that the Lions drafted and he is also the most uninspiring.
He is somewhat similar to fifth-round pick Chris Greenwood in the sense that he is athletic and raw, but he does not have as high of a ceiling as his counterpart.
On the plus side he can step up to support the run and his speed will give him a chance to succeed, if he develops.
If either he or Greenwood pan out, then taking both of them was smart.
I just tend to believe Green won't be the pick that works.
5. Round 5: Chris Greenwood, CB, Albion
Now this is a Martin Mayhew pick.
A small-school player with prototypical size and speed but is completely raw.
If developed properly—and, make no mistake, that is a huge if—then Greenwood could become a solid starting cornerback in the NFL.
He is 6'1", 190 lbs., and ran a 4.3 40-yard dash at his pro day.
Greenwood is a local kid that has all the potential in the world.
It's a pick that makes tons of sense and adds depth to the secondary.
4. Round 3: Dwight Bentley, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette
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An absolute steal of a pick for Detroit that addressed a glaring need in the secondary.
Cornerback Dwight "Bill" Bentley out of Louisiana-Lafayette can step in day one and be a contributing factor in the Lions defensive backfield, especially in nickel and dime sets.
He was easily worth a second round value and the fact that Mayhew was willing to wait for him to fall down to the third round shows great patience on his and the entire front office's part.
Bentley is undersized at 5'10", 182 lbs., but he is not afraid to get physical with receivers and handles himself well in both man and zone coverage.
A great selection with even better value in the third round.
3. Round 7: Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma
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The third—yes, I said third—Oklahoma Sooner to join the Lions in the draft is linebacker Travis Lewis.
He was a steal in the seventh round and has the athleticism and play-making ability to have huge success in the NFL.
Lewis needs to work on his form tackling.
Fine. That is a correctable issue, and with his intangibles and 6'1", 246-pound frame Lewis may prove to be a solid starter down the line.
2. Round Four: Ronnell Lewis, LB, Oklahoma
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The Lions really seemed to hit their stride in the fourth round with the selection of linebacker Ronnell Lewis out of Oklahoma.
Whether or not he plays LB or defensive end at the next level remains to be seen, but what is known is that Lewis is a truly ferocious football player that will sacrifice his body to make any play.
He has good lateral quickness and pass rushing skills that will ensure his success at the next level.
Is he a special teams player for now?
But as Lewis develops his play-recognition ability and his 6'2", 253-pound frame, he could become a player to watch in coming years.
1. Round 1: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
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Everyone wondered if the Lions would move up in the first round for a cornerback like South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore or Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick.
GM Martin Mayhew's answer?
Staying pat at pick No. 23 and letting the draft's second best tackle fall right into the team's lap.
Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff is a quick-footed bulldozer who should transition well to the pro game.
He can instantly take over for the perennially mediocre Gosder Cherilus on the right side until his inevitable move to left tackle.
A brilliant pick with high value.