Intelligent. Confident. Hard working.
These are three words that come to mind when I think of Lions GM Martin Mayhew.
These are words that were never associated with former Lions GM Matt Millen.
I've said this before and it's something I truly believe, hiring Martin Mayhew is the best move Matt Millen made in his tenure as GM. How Millen didn't succeed with such a talented assistant is beyond me. It goes to show Millen's ineptitude with glaring guilt.
Those same three words can be used to describe Martin Mayhew the football player.
Mayhew's path to the NFL is that of a 5'8-172 pound cornerback from Florida State, drafted in the 10th round in 1988 by the Buffalo Bills. Mayhew was cut by the Bills and picked up by the Redskins. Mayhew spent 8 years in the NFL, playing 4 years for the Washington Redskins and 4 years for the Tampa Bay Bucs from 1989-1996.
Martin Mayhew went from being a 10th round draft pick to being a starting CB in the 1992 Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins.
Those three words, can also be used to describe Mayhew the Businessman.
Once Martin Mayhew retired from football in 1996-97 he attended Gorgetown Law School. He received his (J.S) Law degree, Juris Doctor degree in 2000. Not many players retire from the NFL and immediately attend Law School.
Mayhew joined the Lions staff 9 years ago as Senior Vice President. Matt Millen hired the right guy. An intelligent, confident, hardworking former player he knew from his time in Washington. Mayhew spent 8 years working under Millen, I'm assuming just as hard as he's working now.
When Millen was canned and Mayhew took over it felt like a lateral move. How could the guy working under Millen be any better? How could he not be responsible for all of the bad decisions too? What could he possibly do to help this team?
Then came the Roy Williams trade. I remember the day it happened. I immediately called my friend who is a Dallas fan and told him that the Lions just fleeced the Cowboys in the Roy Williams trade, he felt the same way. I couldn't believe that Mayhew could pull off such a deal. Millen would never have been savvy enough to pull off that deal. Millen would've traded Roy for a 3rd rounder and a six-pack.
I tempered my excitement though considering the Lions were in the process of going 0-16.
Then came the NFL draft where teams are built. By the end of the 2009 draft I was not sure that we improved in that department. Some of the picks did not made sense to the fans. Specifically drafting Brandon Pettigrew instead of Michael Oher. By the end of the 2009 season Martin Mayhew had my full respect when it comes to player evaluations. Mayhew pulled 5 starters from the 2009 draft. 2 others, Aaron Brown and Derrick Williams still need time to develop but could become good solid situational role players that every team needs. In reality the jury is still out on the 2009 draft class. In the words of Martin Mayhew, give it three years before you judge a draft class. The early results are promising though.
The end of the 2009 season brought something else, the Lions were forced to sign a ton of players through free agency last year and during the season and many of them are not starting caliber players in the NFL. Mayhew made many low risk moves that did not pan out. A good strategy but the Lions still need talent.
Most recently the NFL free agent market has opened. Teams are free to wheel and deal before the draft. Surprise, Surprise! The Lions have been the NFL's busiest team. Led by Martin Mayhew making smart move after smart move. Signing Kyle Vanden Bosch and Nate Burleson to deals on the eve the market opened the flood gates.
Since then Mayhew has went on to make a string of intelligent trades for starters getting DT Corey Williams and a 7th round pick from the Browns for a 5th round pick that the Lions received in the 2009 draft from the Broncos. Starting caliber CB Chris Houston was stolen from the Falcons for a 6th round pick and a conditional 7th in 2011. Starting LG Rob Sims and a 7th round pick was snagged from the Seahawks for a 5th round pick and DE Robert Henderson, the Lions got the better of that deal by a mile.
That's a total of 5 starters added to the roster. Along with those 5 players the Lions have added several role/special teams players. LB Landon Johnson, LB Ashlee Palmer, CB Jonathan Wade, CB Dante Wesley, WR Brian Clark, RB DeDe Dorsey. Not spectacular but solid veterans and young talented players who can still develop. Mayhew is using every avenue possible to make this team competitive, and thats something I can respect.
Three new words come to mind when I think of Martin Mayhew the GM. Trustworthy. Savvy. Respectable.
Martin Mayhew is working as hard as possible to make this team better and thats all I can ask for as a fan. He knows the value of getting the best value out of players and draft picks. He went out and got a hard working solid veteran starter for each side of the ball. He traded low round picks for low risk veterans with great skills. He's attempting to improve the special teams by adding solid players to that piece.
If the 2010 NFL draft is as successful as the 2009 draft for Martin Mayhew and the Detroit Lions they may be on their way to hearing three words that are never mentioned around those parts...Detroit Lions Championship!