2013 NFL Draft: Detroit Lions Get a Solid B


Apr 26, 2013; Allen Park, MI, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz (left) hands first round draft pick Ezekiel Ansah a Lions cap before a press conference at the Lions Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Now that’s more like it. Unlike last year when the Detroit Lions stubbornly stuck to their Best-Player-Available policy, regardless of where they played, and didn’t draft a single starter. Going 4-12 and your job on the line will change that pretty quick. I like the new policy much better. The one they employed this year, the “Best-Player-Available-At Positions-Of-Need-Or-I’m-Gone” policy, yielded much better results.

I thought the Lions did a very good job of drafting over the past weekend. I would give them a solid B. Of course no one really has any idea how well these draft picks will work out for another year or two, but that’s not going to stop us from rushing to judgement what we think of who our local gridiron heroes added to the roster. The Lions had the unbelievable bad luck of picking fifth in a year when there were 3 stud candidates to pick from, and they all get picked in the first four selections. Say hello to Riley Reiff being the new left tackle. But the Lions rebounded nicely when they plucked Ziggy Ansah from BYU.

Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz are rolling the dice on the biggest boom-or-bust candidate in the draft. I like that they took a risky pick instead of the safe pick like Dee Milliner or one of the guards. They’re saying we saw this kid all week and we trust or own eyeballs. Personally, I think they knocked this one out of the park and Ziggy is going to be one the Detroit sports legends known by a single name. The second pick, Darius Slay, was the fastest DB at the combine and played very well in the NFL minor leagues, the SEC. He joins the three other young corners that were drafted last year, and all of a sudden the Lions have a stable of young fast defensive backs. Of course, Slay will always be judged against his teammate from Mississippi St., Johnthan Banks, who was taken seven picks after Slay. Banks was the higher rated one of the two, so we’ll see later if the Lions guessed correctly on this one.

The third pick was my favorite of the draft for the Lions. My second favorite was the Lions not spending a draft pick on a receiver until the sixth round. Road grader doesn’t do Larry Warford justice, he’s more like an airline runway snow plow. This dude is massive, and yet has the feet of a ballerina. The Lions talked all year about committing to more of a balanced attack that a good running game brings. This pick alone will shift the Lions running game up a gear. Defensive end Devin Taylor, taken in the fourth round, is an intriguing prospect. He’s huge, but needs to hit the weight room; he performed well but it didn’t translate into sacks. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit if we just drafted our starting ends in a year or two in this year’s draft.

Mayhew had us firmly planted in his corner by the fifth round; then came the Punter. My draft guild’s say punters usually get drafted in the seventh round, so the Lions only jumped a couple of rounds and didn’t completely waste the pick. Still, it was a head scratcher. Of the rest of the picks that look like they’ll play this year, sixth round pick Corey Fuller is what they’re looking for in receiver number two, tall and fast. Michael Williams looks like a keeper at tight end.

The Detroit Lions look better on paper, they filled some glaring holes with the draft this year. But the success of this draft will ultimately fall on how soon can 1st pick Ziggy Ansah generate a pass rush? The Lions are betting on that it happens sooner rather than later, like this year.