The Detroit Lions Draft Grade

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The Detroit Lions Draft Grade
(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

It was no secret leading up to the 2009 NFL Draft that the Detroit Lions had more holes to fill than draft picks. In 2008, the Detroit Lions defense was the worst defense in the NFL and the offense wasn’t far behind. The Lions let go of Millen (the architect of this farce), fired Marinelli and brought in a defensive minded rookie Head Coach in Jim Schwartz.

Common sense is that the Lions with a defensive minded Head Coach, the Lions would draft defensively with their first draft. Well, of their ten draft choices the Lions drafted 6 offensive players and 4 defensive players.

Including, two offensive players in the first round. On all accounts making this an “even draft.”

The Lions spent their first over all draft choice and a guaranteed 41.7 Million dollars on University of Georgia Quarterback, Mathew Stafford. Stafford was arguably the best Quarterback on the board.

Stafford brings a big arm and will be able to throw the deep ball to Calvin Johnson. However, the downside on this choice is that he was inconsistent and performed poorly against high caliber teams (like Florida).

Expect Stafford to start around week 8 - 10. Depending on the durability of Culpepper and Stafford's learning curve.  My draft grade on Stafford is B+.

The Lions spend their second first round pick (the 20th overall) on Oklahoma State Tight End, Brandon Pettigrew. Pettigrew was the highest ranked TE in the draft.

The six foot six inch TE will complement and provide rookie QB Stafford with a security blanket and add to the run blocking game. In 2008, Pettigrew scored zero touchdowns and lacks an explosive element to his game. 

Expect Pettigrew to start. My draft grade on Pettigrew is B+.

With the thirty-third pick over all—the first choice of the second round—the Lions drafted Western Michigan Safety, Louis Delmas. By drafting Delmas the Lions have added the top ranked Safety available in the draft to a defensive backfield that was beyond lackluster in 2008.

Delmas also adds a power packed tackler to a defense that was seemingly unable to wrap up in 2008. Expect him to start.

The only downside to Delmas’ game is that he played in the MAC. My draft grade for Delmas is A+.

After trading the first pick in the third round to the New York Jets. The Lions drafted Wisconsin Linebacker DeAndre Levy.

Levy is added to a Linebacking corp that consists of Ernie Sims, Julian Peterson and Jordan Dizon. Levy will add the ability to run sideline to sideline.

Was he the best player available with that pick in the third round? Or was he the LB that best fits into Schwartz’ defensive scheme?

Only time will tell. Expect him not to start.

Especially if the Lions do sign Foote. My draft grade for Levy is B.

Six picks later, the Lions selected Penn State Wide Receiver, Derrick Williams. At the beginning of the 2008-09 season Williams was projected to be a first round draft choice.

Unfortunately the very skilled receiver and kick returner under achieved during his time at PSU. At best Williams would be a fourth or fifth receiver.

However, it is likely that he will be the Lions Kick and Punt Returner of the future adding a much needed element to the Lions overall game. My draft grade for Williams is C+.

With the 15th pick in the fourth round, the Lions selected Stilliam Defensive Lineman Sammie Lee Hill. To suggest that Hill will be a solid replacement for Corey Redding’s departure would be foolish.

While, at Stillman, Hill dominated his competition. However, that is also the downside with Hill. His acclimation to the NFL game will be the key to his NFL development.

I am not sold on this pick. This is one of those instances, where, I hope he’s the diamond in the rough. My draft grade for Hill is a C.

The Lions first pick in the sixth round came at number 19 (192) and with that pick the Lions chose Texas Christian Running Back, Aaron Brown. His best season came in 2006.

There, he combined for more than 1200 yards rushing and receiving. Brown comes into an offensive backfield that includes second year runner Kevin Smith.

Brown will add the element of a receiving RB to the fold. The downside on Brown is his massive drop off of production since 2006. My draft grade for Brown is a C+.

The Lions first selection in the seventh round came at pick 19 (228). They chose Nebraska Offensive Lineman Lydon Murtha.

The Lions added the six foot seven inch 315 pounder to bulk up their terrible Offensive Line. Why the Lions waited to invest a draft choice on their offensive line is beyond me.

They just invested at least 41.7 Million dollars into a Quarterback and not one first day or early second day pick. Nebraska is known for the strength of their offensive line.

Hopefully, Murtha’s transition to the NFL is successful. My draft grade for Murtha is a B.

The Lions second choice of the seventh round came at 26 (235) and it came in the form of University of California Linebacker Zach Follett. Follett an all PAC Ten Linebacker had 78 tackles, 8.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles.

Follett could have been the steal of the draft. The most salient complaint about Follett is that he relies on his football instincts “too much.”  My draft grade for Follett is A.

The Lions final pick in the 2009 NFL Draft was Maryland Tight End Dan Gronkowski. In 2008, he had his “break out year.”

He had 29 receptions for 287 yards and 3 touchdowns. Gronkowski could be a hidden gem.

He is a very solid TE that can receive and block. He will be a solid number TE behind the Lions first round pick Pettigrew.

The only downside on Gronkowski is that he had one “solid season.”  My draft grade for Gronkowski a B.

The Lions added five defensive players, two offensive players and one place kicker in the form of undrafted free agents. Defensively they added LB Holtzclaw (Eastern Michigan), DT John Gill (Northwestern), LB Downey (Maine), S Wiley (Michigan State) and DB Parson (Ohio).

Offensively the Lions added C Gerberry (Ball State) and WR Boldin (Wakeforest). The Place Kicker is Walters from University of Arkansas Birmingham.

My grade for the undrafted free agent signings is a C. They didn’t add anyone “spectacular.” They just tried to fill some voids.

The Lions went into the draft with more holes than draft choices. They addressed nearly every position.

However, there will still be holes on both sides of the ball. The Lions added 18 players.

Eight of which went undrafted. Though, it is not fair to say that the undrafted players will not pan out.

It is fair to say the likelihood of them amounting to anything more than a roster filler is very much in doubt. My over all grade for the Lions 2009 NFL Draft is B.

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