Analyzing the Detroit Lions 2011 NFL Draft Pick by Pick

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Analyzing the Detroit Lions 2011 NFL Draft Pick by Pick
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The Detroit Lions have become one of the most talked about teams coming into the 2011 season. Part of it comes from their strong finish to the 2010 season and the other from their picks in this year's draft. A combination of young talent, luck and players fulfilling their true potential could lead to Detroit's first playoff birth since 1999.

I harbor both feelings of excitement and skepticism. While most fans seem ecstatic with the Lions draft, I am left feeling very unsure and think many holes still remain. 

Here is look at the Detroit Lions 2011 Draft

 

Nick Fairley

With the 13th pick in the draft the Lions selected Nick Fairley, a player with top-notch talent who supposedly dropped to them because of character issues and a few nagging injuries.

Fans across the mitten seem ecstatic with this pick. I think it's fantastic the Lions were able to get a player that is such a tremendous talent, but I can't help but think they had much greater needs than the Defensive Line. Sammie Lee Hill, Ndamukong Suh, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril and Corey Smith already have proven to be more than adequate at that position.

One of the few strong points of the Lions last season was their d-line. They had issues in the secondary and at the linebacker positions, not to mention offensive line. I would have preferred the Lions to have selected Prince Amukamura with this pick, as he was yet another great talent who slipped down to 19th because the others didn't require his services.

Fairley will be a strong player and will contribute right away, but when Greg Jennings and Donald Driver torch the Lions secondary two times next season, I think fans may be singing a somber tune.

 

Titus Young

Titus Young is the pick that excites me most heading into the next season.

He gives the Lions exactly what they need on several different levels. The Lions have never been able to get a truly solid No. 2 receiver to line up opposite Calvin Johnson, and could take some pressure of of him.

I hope Nate Burleson will eventually be able to fill that role and if not, Titus Young will be waiting in the wings. Young will be able to return punts and catch the "infamous" Detroit Lions receiver screen pass. He was a solid player in his years at Boise State and I expect that he will do the same in Detroit.

 

Mikel Leshoure

This was an interesting and unexpected pick by Detroit. When I heard they had traded up for this pick, I assumed they would target a linebacker or a lineman, as there were plenty of solid players available. However, Leshoure was the second-rated running back prospect coming into the draft and Jahvid Best did struggle with injuries last season.

The Leshoure/Best combination of speed and power could ultimately resemble a Tennessee Titans Chris Johnson/Lendale White scenario that was used by Jeff Fisher a few seasons back. I doubt Jahvid Best has the durability to be an every-down back.

I would have liked to see them take a linebacker, but this pick will pay dividends.

Doug Hogue

Better late than never, I guess. The Lions selected linebacker Doug Hogue with the 157th pick in hopes of building a core for the future.

Hogue is a good talent, but at 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds, he is severely undersized. He has good ball instincts and could possibly see the field this season on certain packages.

Michiganders across the state were mildly upset the Lions did not take former Michigan State stud linebacker Greg Jones, who many felt was a better prospect. The Lions had the right idea, but I think made the wrong pick.

 

Johnny Culbreath

A team's last-round pick is generally a "crap chute."

For every Tom Brady and Marques Colston that is taken, there is a Tim Toone (Mr. Irrelevant in last season's draft). It was good to see the Lions take a Lineman, but it was far too late.

They ought to place more importance on protecting their young quarterback Matt Stafford and less on stacking up star defensive linemen. Culbreath has great size at 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, but is considered a major project at this point. If Matt Stafford goes down for the third season in a row because of injury, the Lions will regret waiting so long for this positional pick.

The Detroit Lions competed last year for the first time in five years. This season they are looking to do more than just compete with the league's premier teams and hope they can join the ranks of the elite.

They did well with the Young and Leshoure picks, but the Fairley choice at 13 still seems very unnecessary to me. The Lions were able to secure some truly talented players coming into this season, but I fear that they drafted talent at the wrong position and have left some gaping holes to fill.

In any case, The Detroit Lions are very close to being one of the strongest teams in the NFL 

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