Why the Detroit Lions Should Have Drafted Doug Martin

J.P. ScottSenior Analyst IJuly 31, 2012

Dec 22, 2010; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Boise State Broncos running back Doug Martin (22) heads up field against the Utah Utes in the 2010 Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

It's easy to be critical of a decision after the fact, but you had to have seen this coming.

After the Lions' running back depth chart was devastated by a variety of circumstances in 2011, they brought back Kevin Smith as a stop-gap measure.

Then in the offseason, we all sat back and watched as Mikel Leshoure, Detroit's second round pick in 2011, was arrested twice in less than a month. Both instances involved marijuana possession.

Together, those instances earned Leshoure a two-game suspension from the NFL.

This took place well before the 2012 NFL Draft. 

Heading into the draft, the Lions arguably had more questions at running back than any position on the field.

Outside of Leshoure, the biggest name Detroit had in the backfield was Jahvid Best, who had a history of concussions that you would have to think put his playing future in jeopardy. As of now, those concussions have him on the PUP list.

Given this information, it would have made a lot of sense for the Lions to shore up the one part of their offense that had obvious shortcomings in 2011 by drafting a solid running back with no character issues or injury concerns.

It would have made sense to draft Doug Martin.

While Best is a flashy playmaker with elite speed and decent receiving skills, Leshoure is a big powerful back with nice top-end speed and a knack for holding onto the ball.


Doug Martin is a perfect mix of both players.

He is basically Ray Rice with more size. A ball of muscle who runs hard between the tackles, Martin is an elite receiver out of the backfield and glides once he's in the secondary. He would have been the perfect addition to an already dangerous Detroit offense.

As we now know, the Lions took offensive tackle Riley Reiff of Iowa instead.

There is no question that Reiff is a solid player who should have a long and successful NFL career. The issue is that the Lions are built to win now, largely on the strength of the offense, and Martin was the missing piece.

Detroit could have taken Martin with the 23rd overall pick and still landed Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams in round two.

Instead, after Detroit took Reiff, Tampa Bay Buccaneer coach Greg Schiano, who incidentally was Ray Rice's college coach, pulled the trigger on Doug Martin eight picks later. Apparently he too, saw the Rice comparisons.

So now, after using their first two draft picks on an offensive tackle who may not start in 2012 and a receiver (Ryan Broyles) still healing from a torn ACL, Detroit is staring down the barrel of starting Kevin Smith, Keiland Williams or Joique Bell at running back in weeks one and two against the Rams and 49ers.

Even when Best and Leshoure return, you are still saddled with one running back with health concerns and one with character issues.

Meanwhile, Doug Martin sits atop Tampa Bay's depth chart, earning rave reviews from coaches and teammates.

Here's hoping Detroit's 2012 season isn't haunted by the mistakes of the 2012 NFL Draft.