Value Added?

In a matter of a few short days the Lions added several playmakers to their roster. That cannot be denied. However, did the Lions do the right thing by adding overall value to their team and ignoring holes or are they now only capable of warning track power?

The Lions ignored several glaring holes on their roster at cornerback and took a linebacker and offensive tackle in the later rounds. It seems the front office went with the “best player on the board” mentality for this draft. They decided to draft a once projected first overall pick with their first round pick in Nick Fairley. Adding tremendous strength to the defensive line and could make them a force to be reckoned with in the coming season. But with this pick the Lions completely ignored the cornerback position where there is a severe lack of talent and you had the second rated corner still on the board in Prince Amukamara. However, it can be said that a great quarterback pressuring D-line can make a mediocre corner look like an all-pro. We can only hope.

Moving to the second round the Lions decided to draft a speedy wide receiver in Titus Young. There is a need at wide receiver but many thought they would fill this need in the later rounds. However, this is a great value pick. He adds depth to our wide receiver core and adds the down the field threat the Lions are looking for. This will in theory take safety help away from Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson and open up the field. Again, ignoring the hole at offensive tackle is walking on thin ice. With your franchise quarterback just coming back from a severe shoulder injury, shoring up the offensive line looks like a sure and safe bet. However you cannot argue with the play making ability of this pick.

The trade with Seattle was a surprise and thoughts ran wild as to who they were moving up to take Mikel Leshoure, a big strong back with some skills similar to current NFL backs such as Rashard Mendenhall and Laurence Maroney. This wasn’t the most pressing need on the roster but pretty much puts an end to both Kevin Smith and Maurice Morris. This pick should be followed by the question of; “can the offensive front open up holes for him” The Lions had problems with this last year and didn’t do much to improve the poor run blocking. Again, it is tough to dispute this pick given the talent level.

They had to wait till the fifth round to pick again and they went with Douglas Hogue a linebacker out of Syracuse. The Lions saw some good talent come off the board in the time they had to wait and when the pick came he was the best player on the board. He is not ready to contribute right away but will add depth and hopefully can be groomed into a decent player. Waiting to take tackle Johnny Culbreath out of South Carolina in the 7th round gives us the idea that they are confident in the knee of Cherilus and the age of Backus. He is a nice player to still be on the board this late and could be taught to be a good backup player and has some upside.

The Lions received praise from the media and football experts alike for this draft. They added a great player in the first round to an already formidable defensive front. They gave Matthew Stafford some more weapons to work with in the second round and filling holes in the later rounds at linebacker and offensive tackle. A few questions can be asked after the Lions finished the 2011 NFL draft. The first one being, “Did the Lions get too caught up in the best player available draft strategy?” The next being, “Now knowing the holes that need to be filled, how active will the Lions be in free agency if the lockout is lifted?”

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Tags: Detroit Lions Mikel Leshoure Nick Fairley Titus Young

  • Ace Anbender

    Personally, I loved that Mayhew went so aggressively for the best players available. With the draft being such a crapshoot in the first place, I’d much rather see the team draft a polished, highly-regarded prospect than draft a player of lesser talent for the sole reason of filling a need. There’s always free agency (well, hopefully, if there’s a season) and trades for filling needs as well.

    Detroit’s first three picks will almost certainly see the field extensively during their rookie seasons and contribute in a major way to this team. To me, that’s a very successful draft, even if there are holes left elsewhere. No matter what, this team needs another offseason before they can seriously think about contending for the real prize (the Super Bowl) — if it’s going to take another season anyway, why not grab the best players on the board and see if needs can either be addressed via free agency or next year’s draft?

    Great stuff btw, Drew. In the wake of the draft, I think you hit on the key questions on everyone’s mind regarding the Lions.

  • Ross Husson

    Great article.

    The first two days of the Draft I was upset about the “Best Available Player” strategy. I was disappointed in the first round that we passed on Amukamara and Smith. I wanted Brandon Harris instead of Titus Young. Even after reading the reaction to other Lions fans to the pick, I still didn’t buy in. Now that I have slept on it for a couple nights, I believe it was the right decision. I hope that the Line can get enough pressure to take some of the load off our secondary. Spievey will be better as last year was his first at Safety. I agree with what Ace said that it was a good idea to grab the best players and adress the needs in free agency or next year’s draft.

    • Drew Wallace

      Yeah Ross I agree. I wouldnt say I was upset with the picks but I was left scratching my head considering what we needed. But me living in the middle of packer country, I will take a page from thier book and trust Mayhew like packer fans trust Ted Thompson.

      • Zac Snyder

        That trust factor is huge. MM has shown he deserves our trust, something we could never do with Millen.

  • Nathan VanNorwick

    The one thing I like about the linebacker they picked up was that, while reading the profile of him, he seemed good in space and in the open field, but not good as shedding blockers at the point of attack. Hopefully, with the D-line we have he won’t have to shed a lot of guys becuase they will still be occupied double teaming Suh and Fairley and he can just run to the ball.