One thing I’ve always found interesting, in all my years covering the draft and in particular the Detroit Lions, is fan reactions to draft picks. Players often bust or make the hall the moment the Detroit Lions select them, regardless of round. As someone who covers the draft and comments on players coming out, I can tell you that we all miss on players. Both good and bad, there are players we’re wrong about, and it’s best to just own it. New general manager Bob Quinn has his work cut out for him, as does retained head coach Jim Caldwell. Still, it’s fun to look back and see what folks were saying about previous Detroit Lions draft picks, so I’ve compiled a few fun ones. For the sake of privary, I have only quoted the tweets rather than embedding (Don’t go off harrassing people for years old hot takes!).
2014 NFL Draft
So I know fans like to think that it was between Aaron Donald and Odell Beckham Jr., but the Lions pulled a fast one and drafted Eric Ebron, but that’s not how the 2014 draft played out. Very few mocked Donald to Detroit and fewer still had OBJ going anywhere near the motor city. Fan perception was pretty universal, the Detroit Lions were going to draft one of either Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Justin Gilbert, Anthony Barr, or Darqueze Dennard. 4 of those 5 players were gone before the Detroit Lions were on the clock, and the team picked Eric Ebron the moment their turn came up. Word out of Detroit coincided with the public perception that Detroit seriously believed they were working out a long-term extension with Ndamukong Suh and didn’t view DT as a serious need, while they had faith in young corners like Darius Slay and Nevin Lawson working out (The evidence suggests this as well, since Chris Houston was eventually released, something that would have been talked of in Detroit before the draft).
But what were the fans saying? Fans REALLY wanted Justin Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard.
"Browns pick Justin Gilbert, Lions still have a Swiss cheese hole at Corner. #nfldraft"
Didn’t seem to be much faith in the Detroit Lions budding secondary.
"SOL RT @nealruhl: So the Browns got Justin Gilbert, Johnny Football & a 1st rd pick? While the Lions got a tight end…"
In hindsight, if this were a trade, we would be talking about how much the Lions won it. Hasn’t really worked out well for Cleveland, with Gilbert eating a chunk of cap without playing and Manziel set to be released next month.
"I will be reallyupset if the Lions take Justin Gilbert if Darqueze is still on the board. It is a huge need but he’s 10x better than Gilbert"
While it’s probably true that Dennard is 10X better than Gilbert, that isn’t saying much considering how bad Gilbert has been and how sparsely the Bengals have used Dennard.
"Fun fact: Nate Freese, the #Lions‘ kicker draft pick, missed more PATs (1) than FGs (0) last year."
Confidence was a little higher than many like to pretend about this eventually ill fated draft pick. The Detroit Lions would eventually tweak his mechanics to add some power to his historically accurate kicking leg and, well, you know how that turned out.
"Besides Kyle Van Noy the Lions draft suck"
Kyle Van Noy hasn’t been bad in his limited action, and has at times been pretty good, but so far only Larry Webster and Nate Freese were less valuable picks, and both were taken later.
"#Lions draft Bloomsburg DE Larry Webster, and ESPN feels his best attribute was the number of blocks he had in basketball"
This was…oddly prophetic as to how Larry Webster’s NFL career would progress. Also notable were how the Detroit Lions drafted Webster to play DE, where he played in college, but he was listed on most draft sites as either a DT or a TE, the latter being the position most felt he would be the best fit.
2014 wasn’t viewed as a great draft for the Detroit Lions, but 2013 was. Let’s take a look at what fans thought of what would eventually be known as the best draft of the Martin Mayhew era.
Next: 2013 NFL Draft