Detroit Lions 2012 NFL Draft Picks: Grades, Results and Analysis

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2012

Detroit Lions 2012 NFL Draft Picks: Grades, Results and Analysis

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    Welcome to the 2012 NFL draft.

    I'm going to be LIVE at Radio City Music Hall to cover this event for the third year in a row. It's always a good time, and I highly recommend you make the pilgrimage to see at least the first round once.

    During all three days of the draft, I'll be here updating this slideshow with the latest and greatest Detroit Lions info and analysis. We'll have picks, and we'll have rumors; we'll laugh, cry and learn an important lesson in the end.

    So keep it locked here at the NFC North blog for all of your Lions updates—as well as updates for the whole NFC North.

    Also, follow me on Twitter for real-time reactions and any links to radio or video.

Day One Recap

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    After all the talk of potentially moving up, back and sideways the Lions stay home and net a solid tackle who can start right away. Leave it to them to pick one of the few guys NOT in Radio City though.

    Reiff is a solid pick, both need and value based and was a great call where he slid to. So far the Lions are in great shape and look to nail some secondary help and maybe a running back on Day 2.

    Maybe a little Lamar Miller or LaMichael James?

    5:51 - added value thought - with the Dolphins trying to move back, could the Lions be one of the three teams reportedly in the hunt? It's about as far as they need to get to Dre Kirkpatrick or Gilmore. It's a huge leap and costly. Just food for thought.

    5:41 pm - According to PFT, the Lions are indeed trying to move up....for Stephon Gilmore.  This is from Jason LaCanfora and as always, take predraft nonsense with a grain of salt. But rumors are hot here at Radio city that the Lions are - not exactly desperate-but really interested in a move.

    1:30 p.m.—A sudden development has me in Starbucks adding to this report before my tour of the NFL league offices.

    Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk is reporting that the Detroit Lions are looking to move up in the first round to acquire a defensive back.

    As MDS points out, Stephon Gilmore is moving up boards pretty fast, and Morris Claiborne would be way too expensive to begin with. Alabama safety Mark Barron is an option, but there is a bit of a feeding frenzy over him right now.

    Which leaves Dre Kirkpatrick as the likely target. The question becomes, is he worth it?

    According to MDS, he is. Of course, who is a threat to grab him ahead of the Lions is the better question.

    I'll return to this a bit later (post-tour) with some more thoughts.

    9 a.m.—Things are pretty quiet for the Lions right now, as they sit back and wait to see who falls to them. We'll be back prior to their first pick with any news and notes that spring up.

Round 1, Pick 23: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

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    Considering the offensive line issues, and that Reiff was a predicted top 15 pick, this is a very nice pick.

    It's not a home run (I like DeCastro better) but you can't complain.

    CBSSportsline had things like this to say about Reiff:

    Pass blocking: Looks like an athletic NFL left tackle. Easily turned back most college pass rushers with lateral agility and length. Natural knee-bend and reach to escort edge rushers around the pocket.

    Run blocking: Athletic run blocker with quickness and lateral movement to effectively wall off opponents on the edge. Can be unbeatable when he gets position.

    Quickness: Not elite in this category but comes off the ball hard and strong on run plays and rarely gets beat off the snap in pass protection.

    Again, I'd like DeCastro more but hey, Reiff is a good pick to fill a need and at a great value.

    Good job staying home.

    Grade: B+

Round 2, #54: Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma

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    What can you say about Barry Sanders? I couldn't even hear the pick for all the cheering. Great reception for a great running back.

    Broyles is a slot receiver with great hands, no fear in traffic and the ability to adjust to bad balls. He's a special teams guy too, always a bonus.

    He hurt his ACL this year, which is probably why you've heard very little about him.

    Here's what Russ Lande of the Sporting News said about the injury in his GMJR Draft Guide:

     Against Texas A&M in 2011 Broyles tore the ACL in his left knee, so he has not been able to workout at full speed yet and will likely not be back to his old self until the 2013 season. Although, we have no doubt he will be ready to play in time for the 2012 season. He caught the bulk of his passes on quick passes behind the LOS and on "Drag" type routes, so he is going to have to adjust to running the entire route tree and having to adjust routes in coordination with the QB based on the defensive coverage.


    Broyles is a player who first grabbed my attention when I was evaluating Sam Bradford and I have little doubt that had Broyles not been injured he would be the first slot receiver drafted and a likely high 2nd round pick. However, as he is coming off a torn ACL he is not likely to be drafted until the 3rd round at the earliest. In today's NFL where slot receivers are basically starters, Broyles has tremendous value because he is going to be a highly productive slot receiver who makes a lot of big plays. In addition, his ability to help his team consistently win the field position battle with his great punt return ability adds to his value. Overall, I expect Broyles to be a 3rd or 4th round pick and that while he will be good in 2012, he will really make big impact in 2013 when he is two years out from his injury.


    I like him, although you have to wonder why Rueben Randle is dropping.

    Broyles could have been had later perhaps, or another solid but unspectacular wide receiver. Not a bad pick, not a great pick - even steven.

    Grade: C+ 

Round 3, #85: Dwight Bentley, DB, Louisiana-Lafayette

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    I like this pick quite a bit. When they missed out on Kirkpatrick and Gilmore, I got the sense on the floor here that they would bide their time, lie in the weeds and pick their spot.

    Having done so, they get a guy who lacks physicality though is a willing helper in run support. His technique overall is a bit rough, but he closes quick and has long arms which help him break up passes.

    Wes Bunting had this to say about him in the National Football Post:

    Showcases the ability to sit into his drop off the line in press coverage. However, isn't overly physical with his bump. Displays average lateral quickness when asked to mirror, but doesn't stay real balanced into contact. Is at his best in off/zone concepts when he can keep his eyes in the backfield and use his "plus" first step and closing burst to drive on the football. Gets a bit upright sitting on routes, but lowers his base, doesn't waste much motion and takes good angles toward the ball. Needs to do a better job however, when asked to open up his hips and turn to run. Too often locks his hips prematurely when playing with his back to the sideline and gets upright when asked to turn and run. Possesses good straight-line speed and looks like a high 4.4 guy. However, takes him a step or two to reach top end speed and will struggle to re-direct. Is going to need to polish his footwork and do a better job feeling routes around him. Is a bit inconsistent with his instincts jumping receivers in the secondary and doesn't do a great job disrupting their timing down the field in cover two.


    I don't love the pick. There were other corners on the market in round two which filled a bigger need than Broyles and I think the Lions waited too long.

    It could be some time before he can contribute in any significant manner and in this division, that's an issue.

    Grade: C-

Round 4: Detroit Trades Back to 125 & Picks Up San Fran's 6th Round/196 Overall

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    So the Lions have traded back in the fourth and picked up an extra sixth rounder. Clearly they saw some good value dropping and feel that their guy-whomever he is- will be there in another eight picks or so.

    Good job trading back - I think we'll see more and more of this from the NFC North teams today.

Round 4, #125: Ronnell Lewis, DE, Oklahoma

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    I love this pick. Did they need him? No, not really. This is a value pick pure and simple and worth the swap back.

    He'll start on special teams but can be so much more, though he will never be an elite defensive end.

    Bunting's breakdown on National Football Post says this:

    What I like….

    - The guy has a passion for the game. He will play special teams, loves contact and the game is important to him.

    - Exhibits a good motor when working toward the football and doesn't take many plays off in any aspect of the game.

    - Exhibits an impressive first step, reaches top end speed quickly and his combination of speed, size and power makes him one of the most violent strikers in the country.

    - Is a good wrap up guy as well when asked to close. Showcases "plus" range from the backside and uses his length well to wrap while bringing his legs through contact.

    - Coils up into his stance well as a down defensive end. Keeps his base under him, takes a positive first step off the snap and eats up a lot of green quickly.

    - Exhibits the first step to routinely threaten the edge and quickly gets on top of opposing tackles.

    - Understands how to use his hands in order to gain leverage on the edge. Loves to work in inside rip and has the power and balance to fend off tackles trying to push him well past the play.

    - Demonstrates "plus" closing speed when working back around the corner and creates a lot of his pressure off second effort.

    - Has developed a better feel off the snap setting up his outside speed rush with an inside jab step and using his hands to stay clean and accelerate toward the corner.

    - Is coordinated enough to stand-up from a two-point stance and rush off the edge as a 34 guy. Is versatile and will be on both 34 and 43 team's draft boards.

    - Showcases the ability to keep his pad level down, maintain balance and shoot his way through the "C" gap initially off the snap, working his way through contact.

    - Gets his hands up quickly vs. the run game, can sit into his stance and locates the ball well when trying to fend off contact.

    - Is patient from the backside. Closes the back door well and showcases some suddenness when trying to keep himself clean with his footwork avoiding blocks.

    What I don't like…

    - He's never been that productive as a pass rusher, finishing 2011 with only 5.5 sacks.

    - His pass-rushing arsenal is limited. Looks more like a linear athlete who doesn't understand how to use his hands to counter off his speed rush yet.

    - Looks tighter when trying to turn the corner. Struggles to really dip his shoulder and bend with ease, gets upright and has a tough time taking a clean angle past opposing tackles.

    - There isn't a ton of sudden lateral quickness to his game as a pass rusher when trying to side step blocks. Will extend his arms at times, but I don't a real naturally quick athlete.

    - Looks a bit tight in his drop when asked to hold his own in coverage. Doesn't keep his base under him or sink his hips. Plays upright and needs a step to collect himself before changing directions.

    - Isn't a great anchor player vs. the run, can be worked backward at the point vs. even college tight ends.

    - Does have some character concerns off the field as he really struggled with academic eligibility during his time at Oklahoma

    Not a need pick so not perfect but a great value pick.

    Grade: B+

Round 5, #138: Tahir Whitehead, OLB, Temple

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    This is a bit of an odd pick to me, especially having moved up for him. Whitehead is a small school guy who seems to struggle to shed blocks, isn't great in coverage and plays too upright.

    Bunting has this to say:

    Impression: Isn't a real imposing kid, struggles vs. run game and isn't a real dynamic athlete. If he played lower it would give himself more of a chance to make a roster, but as of now looks like a free agent type linebacker as there isn't too much to get excited about.

    The Lions loved him enough to jump, but I don't know why. Odd pick, and while I might be proven wrong, not a good one either.

    Grade: D

Round 5, #148: Chris Greenwood, CB, Albion

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    Greenwood is pretty raw in many respects but has skill and a lot of upside. Would I have traded up to get him? Maybe not but that's what happens when you wait three days to help the secondary.

    Wes Bunting says on NFP:

    Possesses a tall, physically put together frame. Looks the part and exhibits good straight-line speed. Has a good first step and can run well as a linear athlete. However, isn't real natural in his drop. Isn't real quick footed, is a bit tighter in and out of his breaks and is slow to quickly re-direct and close. Looks leggy trying to change directions and gives up a ton of separation vs. the jump in competition at the East/West Shrine game. Doesn't do a great job identifying routes and is too often slow to reach the receiver out of his breaks.

    Impression: A good looking kid who can run and warrants a spot in a camp. Better athlete than football player at this stage as he struggles to sit low and quickly get out of his breaks.

    Grade: B- (which might be on the generous side)

Round 6, #196-Jonte Green, DB, New Mexico State

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    There's not a ton to note on Green, a small build corner who had two picks and 70 tackles in 2011. Prior to this year though, he had no interceptions and while a willing and able tackler, the WAC isn't the SEC.

    He's fast (4.40 40) and able to recover when beat but he's a project and will spend time on special teams until he can get sharp enough to get a shot.

    Grade: B-

Round 7, #223-Travis Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma

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    Lewis is a bit undersized and not a great tackler but he plays well against the run and will have some success against the pass as well.

    It's a low risk pick, although I think his ceiling is low as well. Not a bad pick, not a brave one either.

    Bunting said this over at NFP:

    A shorter, undersized backer who is a bit narrow through the hips, but possesses an athletic looking frame. Displays "plus" instincts inside when asked to read and react to the inside run. Does a nice job staying low when sliding laterally and absolutely explodes downhill when he finds the ball. Generates a natural burst and exhibits very good closing speed off his frame. Plays with proper leverage consistently, which allows him to routinely work his way free from blocks. Routinely is able to gain a step, absorb contact and fend off blocks through the play. Has the lower body strength and plays with the necessary leverage to even take on linemen in the hole. Extends his arms well, locates the football and for his size does an impressive job stacking and shedding at the point. Is only an average tackler, tends to go high into ball carriers and will slip off his fair share of backs. Doesn't breakdown as consistently as his athletic skill set would lead you to believe in space. However, has the range to routinely string out plays and close quickly in pursuit.

    Grade: B-


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    Getting Reiff was a great stroke of luck but the wide receiver in the second will baffle me for a long time. You need secondary help and wait another round? For a completely unnecessary pick?

    In a vacuum I like Broyles but not there, not to the Bears.

    Especially since I don't love Bentley either.

    Ronnel Lewis was a great pick and the team recovered with a good run at the end.

    However that second round blunder could haunt them in a pass-happy division.

    Grade: B-


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