- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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He was high on the Detroit Lions' 2013 NFL draft from the start, grading the team as a B in the days following the draft.
Now, with a season of evidence, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. had an even higher opinion of how the Lions did.
He gave them an A.
Kiper particularly praised what we have also praised in this space all season long -- general manager Martin Mayhew and senior personnel executive Brian Xanders' ability to find talent in the later rounds of the draft and also after the draft with undrafted free agents.
It was in the undrafted free agent pool, where the Lions picked up starting right tackle LaAdrian Waddle and starting tight end Joseph Fauria, that really made Detroit's rookie class even more impressive.
To read Kiper's whole evaluation, click the link here.
To give a quick recap, here's a look at Detroit's rookies and where they fit in with Detroit last year.
First round -- Ziggy Ansah, DE: Starter. Led rookies in sacks with eight.
Second round -- Darius Slay, CB: Contributor. Showed promise toward the end of the season.
Third round -- Larry Warford, RG: Started every game this season. Was one of the top guards in the league and perhaps the steal of the draft.
Fourth round -- Devin Taylor, DE: Contributor. Played more and also had more consistency toward the end of the season.
Fifth round -- Sam Martin, P: Starter. Was in the top 10 for punters for most of the year. Could be with the team longer than anyone else in the locker room right now.
Sixth round -- Corey Fuller, WR: Practice squad all year.
Sixth round -- Theo Riddick, HB: Mostly a special-teams player, but turned into a reliable contributor there throughout the season.
Seventh round -- Michael Williams, TE: On injured reserve all season.
Seventh round -- Brandon Hepburn, LB: Practice squad all year.
Undrafted -- LaAdrian Waddle, RT: Starter by midseason. Tackle of the future for Detroit.
Undrafted -- Joseph Fauria, TE: Contributor/starter. Became a legitimate red zone threat and should see a bigger role in 2014.
He was high on the Detroit Lions' 2013 NFL draft from the start, grading the team as a B in the days following the draft.Now, with a season of evidence, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.