Only one more preseason game left and it’s already starting to look like the Detroit Lions 2013 draft class might be its most productive in years. Not only have Lions gotten some strong performances from the draft picks, but they apparently might have hit the jackpot with undrafted free agents LaAdrian Waddle and Joe Fauria. Lets face it, we probably started judging the rookie class from the very first practice, so it’s never too early to draw some conclusions on how we think they’ll pan out.
Remember, in the days leading up to the draft, everybody and their brother expected the Lions to draft one of the three top tier left tackles with the fifth pick. Then the unbelievable happened – they were all taken before the Lions had a shot at any of them. Typical Lions luck, some said. Maybe the Lions have turned that situation into a new version of Lions luck.
Their back up choice was defensive end Ziggy Ansah. The raw but talented lineman has shown, in flashes, that he might be that pass rusher that the Lions haven’t had in quite some time. He’s played to what amounts to one game, and already has an interception and a fumble recovery. If Ziggy is the real deal, then the Lions will be better known for their dominant defensive line more than their prolific offense. I’m pretty sure defensive-minded Head Coach Jim Schwartz would like his calling card to be that fearsome foursome up front.
Darius Slay and Larry Warford look to be opening-day starters themselves. Warford has been splitting his time with veterans this preseason, but it’s evident that he is going to start by the huge amount of snaps he’s been getting. Slay seems like he was instantly moved to the front of the line; his talents are far above the guys they drafted last year at that position. So far that’s three starters more than the Lions drafted last year, although Riley Reiff and Ryan Broyles did show promise in the abbreviated time they played. Throw in punter Sam Martin and you have at least four starters on opening day. Martin has already proved to be one of Lions’s best fifth picks ever by the way he can flip the field.
Devin Taylor and Theo Riddick look like they may someday be big contributors and will make the team. The rest of the draft class is going to have a hard time making the team this year.
Free agent Joe Fauria, at six foot seven inches tall, could prove to be able to handle the tight end duties, allowing the Lions to maybe make Tony Scheffler trade-bait for that second receiver that sill eludes the Lions. Did anyone notice how Free Agent LaAdrian Waddle replaced Jason Fox at right tackle in the game against the Patriots, and not Corey Hilliard? Could Waddle be the answer at right tackle? Seems like neither Fox nor Hilliard has distinguished themselves in that battle.
I’ve heard rumblings from the Lions that some think that Waddle could eventually be moved to the left tackle slot. Wouldn’t that be something if the Lions actually ended up with a left tackle after all? Then we might be able to change the definition of “Lions luck.”