April 27, 2012; Allen Park, MI, USA; Detroit Lions first round draft pick Riley Reiff answers questions during a press conference at Detroit Lions training facility. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Detroit Lions 2012 NFL Draft Grades

What I liked:
The days of the shutdown corner are largely over and the Lions have routinely devalued the position in their building plan. They addressed the cornerback position in this draft, albeit differently than most fans would have thought. The Lions’ quantity play will pay off big time if even just one of the three corners they took turns into a solid starter down the road.

Ronnell Lewis and Travis Lewis look like good value picks in the fourth and seventh rounds respectively. Each has their own question marks to address but they each have areas of their game that the Lions creative defensive staff can use to their advantage.

The Lions did well to ensure seamless transitions when Jeff Backus and Nate Burleson are done in Detroit. Riley Reiff was a great value at 23rd overall and Ryan Broyles gives the Lions good depth at wide receiver now while he waits to take over as the primary slot man in the future. Why wait until a need reaches desperation level when the opportunity to take care of it proactively arises? The Lions were smart to take the opportunity presented to them.

What I didn’t like:
The selection of former Temple linebacker Tahir Whitehead was somewhat puzzling, especially since the area he figures to have the biggest impact is special teams. Trading a future pick rather than one of their other 2012 picks was a smart move to keep this draft class on the larger side and the Lions figure to gain a mid-round compensatory pick next year for the loss of Eric Wright via free agency. File this one under “just gotta trust Mayhew”.

Grade: B
The Lions may not be walking away from the 2012 NFL Draft with a couple new starters for next year but that isn’t the strategy the Lions front office takes when approaching the draft. They use the draft to become the best team they can be over a long period of time, not just one year. They did what they needed to do to keep the offense potent for a number of years and added some defensive pieces with the potential to develop into impact players. The coaching staff has a track record of valuing players that are good on special teams as opposed to just filling special teams with backup players so adding a couple potential special teams aces makes sense. I would have liked to have seen a developmental quarterback in the class but the decision to not take one ends up looking good after signing Kellen Moore as an undrafted free agent.

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