The 2011 NFL draft was unique in that it is the first one in the era of free agency not to have free agency to predate it. Therefore, the strategy of picking players did not have the already signed veterans to aid in whom the teams would pick over this recent weekend.
The Detroit Lions for once were seen as a team of interest based more or less on what occurred last season. The already signed Kyle Vanden Bosch and the drafting No. 2 overall of Ndamukong Suh ushered in not just a 6-10 season but also one of the best seasons a rookie has ever had playing defense in the NFL.
This offseason head coach Jim Schwartz could not park outside a player's house prior to the start of free agency. Instead due to the lockout, the Lions could only look to the draft as they decided on how to improve the team from 6-10 last season.
The early-on favorite for the Lions in the first round seemed to be Prince Amukamara, the cornerback from the same university that produced Suh. The Husker teammates would have been a great sight to see with Suh beating up quarterbacks, and Amukamara shutting down the opposing team's best receivers.
However, the 2011 draft truly lived up to the aura of unpredictability as an unexpected amount of quarterbacks were picked prior to the Lions first-round pick of No. 13 to lead the Lions to change their draft strategy for both the first round and the rest of the rounds to follow. This strategy received a NFL.com fan vote of an A, an A- from Todd McShay and a B from Mel Kiper.
It is safe to say now that the team is more improved in this adjusted strategy than they were if they had gone in whom they might have picked or at least whom I thought they were going to pick.
Now it is up to everyone directly involved to get this lockout over so the Lions can add the other pieces to the team to go beyond 6-10.
These free agents might already be on the Lions radar due possibly in part to Suh's alleged recruitment trip to the Pro Bowl as he sat out the game due to shoulder surgery. He, as the top rookie in the league, telling the players that Detroit is now the place to show their talents is a change from two seasons ago, the Lions went 0-16.
The Monday night game on October 10th against the Bears will also help this players decide that Detroit is an ideal destination. But until then, the lockout remains. Also until the lockout remains, the future of the Lions season rests with five rookies. Not all will probably start for the Lions, but all will wear the Honolulu Blue.