Detroit Lions: 5 Players the Lions Will Regret Passing on in the 2012 NFL Draft
If you've noticed some fans of the Detroit Lions working their way through the five stages of grief lately—denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance—don't worry, Matt Millen is not coming back to town.
It's actually a very common reaction this time of year. I refer to it as P.D.S.D—Post Draft Stress Disorder.
The aftermath of the NFL draft is an emotional time. Overreaction and rampant second-guessing is par for the course.
I'm no different. While I believe Lions GM Martin Mayhew deserves to be trusted when it comes to drafting talent, I don't always agree with his selections.
Two I particularly did not like were Ryan Broyles in Round 2 and Tahir Whitehead in Round 5.
Mayhew and the Lions passed on some very talented prospects to draft these guys. Prospects that could have major impacts on their new teams.
Here are five such players that the Lions will regret passing on.
5. Jonathan Massaquoi, DE
As I said, the Lions selected Whitehead, an OLB from Temple, in Round 5. They also picked Chris Greenwood, a CB from Division III Albion.
Both were under-the-radar selections and will primarily be used on special teams this season.
Upside was the story with them. They each possess particular skills that with development, could make them great fits for Detroit.
Martin Mayhew passed up an even better diamond in the rough though—defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi.
He's got upside coming out of his ears.
He certainly had enough experience playing on special teams to fit Detroit's needs. It was his potential for greatness as a pass-rusher that should've had Mayhew doing backflips—especially given Detroit's reliance on the pass rush and their on-going contract mess with Cliff Avril.
Massaquoi's potential is greater than Whitehead's, and he has all the characteristics—long arms, strength and agility—many great edge rushers share.
Massaquoi also shares a legacy with some well known pass-rushers: DeMarcus Ware and Osi Umenyiora also honed their skills at Troy University.
If the Lions were going for potential in this round, they really let one slip through their fingers. Massaquoi could be the steal of the draft.
4. Terrell Manning, OLB
The Lions ended up getting three outside linebackers after the third round and I'm puzzled why Terrell Manning was not one of them.
I can understand going with Chris Greenwood in the fifth. His combination of size and speed makes him truly unique. The Lions' secondary needed major upgrades and he was worth the risk.
But Manning is a more complete linebacker than Tahir Whitehead. He's a natural pass rusher, a great tackler and is above average in pass coverage.
At this point in his career, Whitehead is a one-trick pony.
Manning was predicted to be much higher draft pick. His stock fell because of injuries suffered earlier in his career and his decision to leave as a junior.
If he stayed another year, he'd probably be a second-round pick.
Whitehead won't be supplanting any Lions starters this season that's for sure.
Green Bay has been dominating Detroit for years. Most fans in Motown believe this is their time to get payback. Allowing a great prospect to fall to the cheeseheads is not the way to do it.
If Manning is a stud for the Packers, you better believe there will be regret.
3. Kelechi Osemele, OG
In many people's minds, upgrading the Lions' offensive line via the draft was a top priority, second only to getting a cornerback or two.
Detroit satisfied this need by picking up Riley Reiff in the first round. He will likely start somewhere on the line this year and he'll eventually replace Jeff Backus.
But the Lions will regret not picking up a guard as well. Kelechi Osemele was still on the board when the Lions drafted Ryan Broyles in the second round.
He's a talented run-blocker, which is the area where their line struggled the most.
Neither starting guard, Rob Sims or Stephen Peterman, blow you away. Their serviceable and that's it.
Osemele is a mauler that loves getting in the face of a defender after he knocks them on their can.
Sounds like he would have fit in nicely with Detroit.
While Reiff will certainly help the line now, I think the Lions will regret not upgrading the guard position later.
2. LaMichael James, RB
In Round 2, Martin Mayhew pulled off a shocker comparable to when J.R. got shot on Dallas (for those of you not old enough to know what the heck I'm talking about, you'll just have to trust me).
Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles was the surprising pick and fans who were assuming Detroit would select a cornerback were a bit traumatized.
I didn't have a problem selecting a player on the offensive side of the ball, I just thought Mayhew targeted the wrong position.
LaMichael James was still on the board and was a top five running back according to ESPN and several others.
Detroit's running game is a mess. Injury questions abound and Jahvid Best is one hit away from retirement. James would have been a great insurance policy, particularly for Best.
They are certainly cut from the same mold.
James is lightning quick and capable of exploding for huge yards in the open field. His diminutive size also makes him a better complimentary back.
We've seen what Best's running style can do for Detroit's offense when healthy. The Lions would have been better served restocking with a similar player.
Now they will have no one to replace him if/when he goes down. Good thing they have a fourth receiver to give Nate Burleson a breather though.
1. Lavonte David, OLB
Lavonte David was also on the board when the Lions selected in Round 2. In fact, he was taken five picks later by Tampa Bay.
I think he would have been an infinitely better selection than Ryan Broyles.
That's not to say Broyles won't be a good player, upgrading the defense was simply a far bigger need.
It also would have been hard to find a better prospect in the second round than David.
ESPN ranked him the No. 2 OLB in the draft although he is considered undersized at 6'0" 230 lbs.
I'm sure Tampa Bay isn't worried. They had a pretty good linebacker—Derrick Brooks—who was the same size and that worked out pretty well for them.
David is going to be a tackling and run-stopping machine for the Bucs and he could have been for the Lions too.
I also believe he would have been an upgrade from DeAndre Levy.
Instead, he went to an NFC rival whom the Lions could face in a playoff scenario in the near future. The Bucs defense will be improved this year and David will be a big part of that.
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