Mel Kiper Re-Grades Detroit Lions’ 2014 Draft


This period of time between the end of the 2014 NFL season and the 2015 NFL Draft means that the Detroit Lions don’t currently have any rookies. With the 2014 NFL Draft class is through their rookie season, ESPN’s Mel Kiper is back to revisit his initial post-draft grade. For the Lions, the adjustment isn’t positive. Kiper’s B- for the Lions post-draft has turned into a C with one season in the books.

Kiper explains (insider subscription required):

"Golden Tate was arguably the best free-agent pickup of the 2014 offseason, which is a good way of saying Detroit didn’t really need to draft Odell Beckham Jr. But … just sayin’. They did get a matchup-threat pass-catcher in Eric Ebron, and while I wouldn’t say he struggled, he was well down the pecking order and had just 23 catches. It wouldn’t surprise me if he doubles that total next year, but does the pecking order change?After that, this draft gets pretty light, with a sneaky, big miss. I’m a big fan of Kyle Van Noy, but he got hurt and wasn’t able to contribute. If the Lions weren’t so good on defense this year under Teryl Austin, maybe that injury hurts a little more. On offense, Travis Swanson could be a starter going forward with Dominic Raiola’s tenure over, but he had some struggles when he did play. A miss that hurt was Nate Freese, the rookie kicker who went three for his first seven and got cut. I mention it because three undrafted kickers had really solid seasons. Ebron should be better, and hopefully Van Noy and Swanson are effective starters in Year 2."

The Lions might have been in for a bigger drop from Kiper except that his premise for the original B- turned out to be unfounded. In his original grading, Kiper noted that “you have to love the talent addition in rounds one and two” but knocked the Lions for the secondary still being a need after selecting only Nevin Lawson and not until the fourth round.

Upon further review, the Lions didn’t get any game-changing performances out of Eric Ebron and Kyle Van Noy’s season was essentially lost due to injury, but the two still possess the same potential that made them high draft picks in the first place. More impact would have been nice, but the draft is for the long view and the performance of the defense as a whole put to rest any major complaints about the Lions not addressing the secondary with an early pick.

In his re-grade, Kiper isn’t giving enough credit to Travis Swanson as Dominic Raiola’s successor, dinging him for struggles he had while stepping in for Larry Warford at guard. In his one start at center for the suspended Raiola, Swanson looked comfortable stepping in and put together a performance that Raiola didn’t often match in 2014.

In the end, Kiper’s grades come out looking pretty accurate, but it’s often for the wrong mix of reasons.

Next: Lions Draft Options at Offensive Tackle

More from SideLion Report