It follows last year’s draft, the first for general manager Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz, which netted Detroit four starters; including franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford and promising tight end, Brandon Pettigrew.
On defense, they added a playmaking physical presence with Louis Delmas (safety) and DeAndre Levy (linebacker) from Western Michigan and Wisconsin, respectively.
The team is also high on special teams dynamo and backup linebacker Zack Follett and Sammie Lee Hill, a huge D-II defensive tackle who, although still raw, shows nice potential.
Through free agency and trades, you’d be hard-pressed to find another NFL team as productive as Detroit. Their biggest moves up until now:
• Signing Kyle Vanden Bosch (DE adds much-needed talent and experience to weak pass-rush.)
• Signing Nate Burleson (High-character WR is easily the No. 2 behind Calvin Johnson, and he played under coordinator Scott Linehan.)
• Trading for Rob Sims (OG and former Ohio State Buckeyes standout is one of the better young, just 26, left guards in the league.)
• Trading for Chris Houston (CB was taken in second round of ’07 draft and is better than any other corner on the Lions roster.)
• Trading for Corey Williams (DT became expendable when Cleveland switched to 3-4, but he a has a proven track record, back-to-back seven-sack seasons, and he’s still young.)
Most recently, they acquired another big weapon for Stafford in the Michigan-native tight end, Tony Scheffler. But they lost Ernie Sims in the process so they will look to add another outside linebacker on day two or three.
The opening round of the draft went as expected early on as Mayhew made the logical pick with the herculean ability Ndamukong Suh has in the middle of the trenches.
He instantly makes the other 10 players around him better.
It’s what they did near the end of the first round that surprised fans when they moved up to select California running back Jahvid Best, one of the true playmakers on offense in this draft.
At first thought, one might think, “Why did they move up four spots to pick a running back since the four teams in between No. 30 and 34 likely wouldn’t select him?”
For the record, those “teams” were Minnesota, Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Seattle. But if we learned anything in this opening round, it’s that teams aren’t shy about flying up and down the board at a moment’s notice.
The other teams knew Detroit was seriously considering Best at No. 34 and could have easily leapfrogged them with one of the aforementioned four teams if they targeted the elusive, speedy back too.
Considering they swapped picks in the fourth round and gave the Vikings one of their four seventh-round picks, it seems like a fair price to pay to ensure Mayhew ‘got his guy.’
Lions fans came out in droves to watch the draft inside Ford Field. One longtime fan, Kevin Caruso from Ferndale, Michigan, was ecstatic with the picks and thrilled that he didn't leave before the Lions moved up to No. 30. According to Caruso, "Suh is a an absolute beast and after watching Jahvid Best's highlights, teams will have to respect the run-game opening up passing lanes for Megatron [Calvin Johnson]."
As it stands, the Lions don’t pick again until the early part (second overall) of the third round. Two positions they will target next are either defensive back or outside linebacker, despite claims of BPA (Best Player Available) from Mayhew and Co.
Here are a few prospects that could possibly hear their name called the next two times Detroit picks:
• Kam Chancellor, S—Virginia Tech
• Perrish Cox, CB—Oklahoma State
• Brandon Ghee, CB—Wake Forest
• Ricky Sapp, OLB—Clemson
• Eric Norwood, OLB—South Carolina
• Hall Davis, DE—Louisiana Lafayette
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