Detroit Lions 2014 Draft: Aggregating Report Cards from Around the Web

Jeff Risdon@@JeffRisdonContributor IMay 12, 2014

Detroit Lions 2014 Draft: Aggregating Report Cards from Around the Web

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    The 2014 NFL Draft is now in the books. Seven full rounds over three days brought eight new players to the Detroit Lions, highlighted by first-round choice Eric Ebron.

    Opinions on general manager Martin Mayhew's selections are pretty consistent across several different report cards issues in the wake of the draft. No grade is higher than a B, while none is lower than a C. 

    Here's a look at a few of those draft report cards from around the Web and the rationale behind some of those grades.

Detroit Free Press

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    Detroit Free Press beat writers Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez offered their grades, as well as a video breakdown of their rationale. 

    Birkett graded the Lions a B-minus, while Monarrez issued a C-plus. Fellow columnist Drew Sharp offered a grade of C.

    The first-round selection of tight end Eric Ebron seems to be the most divisive point. Birkett points out that all of Detroit's top targets were already gone and no slam-dunk options remained. Monarrez espouses that the need to help Matthew Stafford was the primary function of the draft, and Ebron accomplishes that goal.

    Sharp's quip that his grade "should really be IDK — for I don’t know" is the most accurate assessment of draft weekend, as draft grades are horribly premature until we see how the players actually fare in the NFL. 

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN

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    Perhaps the most recognizable face of the monster that is the NFL draft is ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., who has been covering the draft since it was a one-day, untelevised non-event.

    Kiper Jr. gave the Lions a B-minus in his assessment (subscription required). He further breaks down his grade by issuing a C for needs and a B for value. Kiper Jr. offers his explanation via Twitter:

    Lastly: I know you can't "grade" a draft class' performance now. Duh. This reflects how much talent you added + needs + worked the board.

    — Mel Kiper Jr. (@MelKiperESPN) May 11, 2014

    He goes with a theme of fear in describing how Ebron impacts the team. Fear, as in instilling terror in opposing defenses, as Ebron provides Stafford with a much-needed weapon. Kiper Jr. catches into the theme that Ebron isn't really a tight end in the traditional sense, which is a prism that skeptical Lions fans need to embrace.

    Kiper Jr. also seems quite intrigued by fourth-round project Larry Webster, and he heaps praise upon the second-round selection of linebacker Kyle Van Noy. His biggest negative is that Detroit failed to do more to address the perceived needs in the secondary, where the Lions only added slot corner Nevin Lawson in the fourth round. 

CBS Draft Tracker

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    The pundits at CBS opted to grade each individual pick, rather than assigning a total team grade. 

    Here is how their evaluators, Pete Prisco and Derek Stephens, assessed the Lions' haul:

     Eric Ebron C-minus
     Kyle Van Noy B
     Travis Swanson B
     Nevin Lawson B
     Larry Webster C-plus
     Caraun Reid B
     T.J. Jones B
     Nate Freese B-minus

    Prisco has a  blunt assessment of Ebron, openly questioning why the team did not address other needs with such a valuable pick. He believes the Lions nicely rebounded by taking Van Noy in the second, calling him better than Ebron. 

    Their breakdown of Lawson, referring to him as a second-round talent if he were taller, is encouraging. 


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    Kyle Meinke of MLive, the Internet arm of several newspapers across Michigan, graded out the Lions with a B-minus.

    He fairly brought up both sides of the coin with the controversial Ebron pick, noting that the two players Mayhew presumably desired most came off the board just ahead of Detroit's selection.

    Meinke parses out criticism for the Travis Swanson pick,

    They selected a center, Arkansas' Travis Swanson, in the third round. That's a curious move, given that Detroit still had not yet meaningfully addressed its biggest weakness, the secondary, in either free agency or the draft.

    He correctly points out that taking Swanson there and moving up to get Van Noy forced the Lions to sit by idly as a run on defensive backs burned through the next round. 

    The decision to ignore the need at safety clearly weighs heavily on the grade, as it probably should. I do appreciate that Meinke is one of the very few who acknowledged Detroit's glaring need for a kicker, sated by Nate Freese (pictured) in the seventh round. 

Sports Illustrated

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    Chris Burke and Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated continued with the prevailing theme, issuing a solid B to the Lions' draft performance.

    They similarly echo the sentiment that Kyle Van Noy was the best pick, noting that the BYU linebacker "can rush the passer and jump into coverage expertly, and should find a starting spot right away."

    Also generating positive remarks here is fifth-rounder Caraun Reid, the defensive tackle from Princeton. They like his potential as an interior pass-rusher. 

Bleacher Report

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    Bleacher Report's Alessandro Miglio took a slightly different tack in his draft evaluation grades. He focused on the general manager from each team more than the players selected. 

    Miglio graded Mayhew with a B for his drafting performance, dealing primarily with just the first couple of rounds. 

    The trade to move up and select Van Noy in the second round earns praise, as the Lions targeted an immediate starter in the new defensive scheme. 

    Miglio is clearly excited by all the offensive weapons at Matthew Stafford's disposal. He correctly notes the limitations of the other two tight ends, Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria, and why Ebron makes a lot of sense in that context. That has been a tough sell to many fans.