Day One: My guess is that the Lions would have loved to have one of the top three left tackles available with the fifth pick of the draft but didn’t get that opportunity. In that regard the Lions’ hand was forced in picking Ziggy Ansah. I have no doubts that they really do love him after working closely with him at the Senior Bowl – they wouldn’t have taken him otherwise. Trading up to get Joeckel or Lane Johnson was likely cost-prohibitive for a team with so many needs to fill and if an attractive offer to trade down was available they would have taken it. Given the options of Ansah, Milliner or one of the top two guards, the Lions made the right choice. Ansah may be an “upside guy” but he will be able to contribute right away with the potential to become an All-Pro down the line.
Day Two: Fans believing the Lions should have taken Dee Milliner should have their angst relieved, at least in part, with the selection of Darius Slay. His size and speed is exactly what the Lions are looking for and he should be ready to contribute right away after a college career in the SEC. Cornerback wasn’t as big of a need as some made it out to be but Slay is much more than just another guy to add into the mix. Martin Mayhew wasn’t happy with the amount of pressure the Lions gave up in the middle of their offensive line last year. Releasing Stephen Peterman was a strong statement that he meant what he said, as was the selection of Larry Warford. Not only will he address a huge need, he was a good value in round three considering he was more widely seen as a second round prospect.
Favorite Pick: Larry Warford
Day Three: The Lions appear to have been set on finding the best remaining prospects that also fit their needs on day three. Taking a punter was a smart move but the fifth round seems high for Sam Martin. Corey Fuller may be exactly what they need opposite Calvin Johnson but will need time to develop. Theo Riddick is a nice compliment to Reggie Bush and brings versatility to the offense with his ability to play from the slot but he isn’t an explosive athlete. Riddick could also factor into the 2013 plans in the return game. Michael Williams is a perfect replacement for Will Heller as the third tight end and he can also handle the role played by Riley Reiff last year as a third tackle/jumbo tight end. Brandon Hepburn is a high-character guy who could develop into a run-stuffing linebacker or a special teams ace.
Favorite Pick: Michael Williams
Overall: There is a lot to like in the mix of players the Lions are bringing in through this draft but unfortunately some of it is locked up in the dreaded “P” word: potential. That is certainly true of the two defensive ends in this group, although Ansah should be able to contribute immediately in some form. Warford and Slay may also be week one starters but the long-term impact of this draft is impossible to predict. It is entirely possible my overall grade looks way too low or way too high three years from now.