The 2009 NFL Draft has now been completed for the new-look Detroit Lions. No team has ever approached the draft as the Lions have. The team needed people everywhere in moving away from last season's 0-16 debacle.
Yet the actual choices by the football brass of the Honolulu Blue present another year of the Lions passing up quality players to pick their guys instead.
The worst kept secret in the draft was the signing of Matthew Stafford. Even though it was only known a day before the draft of the six-year deal with $47.1 million guarenteed of $72 million total, the decision to pick him was decided long ago.
When the trade for Julian Peterson occured in March, the Lions paved the way for the Seahawks to pick up Aaron Curry.
Matthew Stafford in truth may be a stroke of genius for the Lions. Unlike the quarterbacks coming out next season, Stafford is not a spread QB so there won't be a lot time spent teaching him to go under center.
Since the combine, Stafford has been preparing himself to be drafted first and know who will draft him first. He also doesn't have the Heisman and or national championship clout that the QB's coming out next season would have led to a lot more haggling for the contract.
Also with Culpepper signed, Stafford will not have to start immediately so he will have room to learn and grow as a pro QB.
The 20th pick was a shocker. With a host of offensive tackles as well as Rey Maualuga and James Laurenitis still avaible, the Lions instead chose Brandon Pettigrew, tight end out of Oklahoma State.
He is massive at 6-foot-5, 263 pounds. He can line up along side Cherlius or one of the other tackles to keep people away from Stafford, lead block for when Kevin Smith is running his way and since he caught 42 passes last season for the Cowboys he can be another weapon for Culpepper now and later for Stafford.
In reality, the Lions already have five TE's on the roster. Are the Lions trying to have a TE controversy? They needed linemen and linebackers, not another guy to catch passes.
The 33rd pick was a surprise at first. Maualuga and Laurenaitis were still on the board and the Lions instead went local and picked up safety Louis Delmas out of Western Michigan. He is really a good pick since he had a whopping 111 tackles last season for the Broncos.
He can take on the Troy Polamalu-Ed Reed Thunder & Lightning role. The thunder is from his hard hits and the lightning is from his speed-4.5/40 is great for a position in which twice a year he will be facing the million dollar arms of Aaron Rogers in Green Bay and Jay Cutler in Chicago as well as catching Minnesota's Adrian Peterson before he goes anywhere significant.
At No. 82, wide receiver Derrick Williams out of Penn State and later at #192, running back Aaron Brown from TCU will be part of a newly rebuilt return game.
Derrick Williams had 1,095 return yards for the Nittany Lions in his career so he is more than ready to take on the role of returning the football back for the Lions.
Williams will also compete for a spot on the receiving corps, however he is only 6'0" and 194lb. so he will only be used when the Lions go to a four-WR set.
Aaron Brown has too steep a climb to be the next running back. However as a running back he will be built well enough to handle the requirements to be on special teams either in the role of blocking/tackling or even in receiving kicks or punts if Williams gets called up to be a starting receiver.
At No. 76, the Lions selected linebacker DeAndre Levy out of Wisconsin. He is 6'2 236-pound which means he will probably start his career on special teams. He did have good enough speed to be a quality blitzer for the Badgers.
He will need to add on more weight to be able play linebacker in the pros. His experience on the special teams in terms of tracking and attacking opposing kick returners will prepare him to take the reins in the future as an outside linebacker for the Lions.
At No. 115, defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill out of Stillman may be the steal of the draft for the Lions. He comes from a small school in Alabama but he is not small.
At 6'4" and 329 pounds, he will be a great presence as a tackle that the Lions are looking for. He will learn a great deal from and compete with current DT's Grady Jackson and Chuck Darby.
At No. 228, the Lions drafted offensive tackle Lydon Murtha from Nebraska. He is 6'7" 306 pounds whch puts him at nearly the same size as 6'7" 319-pound Gosder Cherilus.
At such a size he could be a bookend to Cherlius on the line if he beats out current tackle Jeff Backus who will then move to guard.
He is a Husker and there is another Husker on the Lions, Dominic Raiola who will take him under his wing to help him adjust. If Murtha doesn't play right away, he will at least be on a learning curve to be the tackle of the future.
At No. 235, the Lions drafted linebacker Zach Follet from California. At 6'2" 236 pounds, he, like DeAndre Levy, will start his Lions career on special teams. He will need to add weight to be able to take on the added weight of opposing pro players.
At #255, the Lions ended their weekend of draftees by selecting tight end Dan Gronkowski from Maryland. Similar in size to Pettigrew, he is 6'6" and 255lb., however he is more of a blocking style TE even though he caught 29 passes last season for the Terripins.
In review, the Lions did typical in their draft strategy. They got their quarterback, but they passed on a quality inside linebacker to pick up a tight end who is not as important in the scheme of things.
They did get a quality safety but then picked up another receiver, running back and two undersized outside linebackers. Their choice for a DT came from a small school very late in the draft when they could passed on the TE and picked up a big school DT early on. They then closed their draft with picking another TE.
Time once again will tell how this draft works itself out.
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