- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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Over the past two weeks, we have taken a look at the past 10 first rounds from the Detroit Lions – all of the drafts that had Martin Mayhew as either the team’s general manager or assistant general manager.
This week, we’re looking specifically as the Lions’ drafts since 2009, when Mayhew has been in charge. This will be a look at the entire class, not just the first-round picks, which are the ones that are the most paid attention to.
We’ll take a peek at each of the drafts, what worked, what didn’t and one pick that in retrospect we would change with Detroit. Hopefully, this can also give a window into the way Mayhew drafts and some of the decisions he has made in the past that could help influence the 2014 draft and beyond.
Past years: 2009; 2010
Complete draft (pick number in parentheses): Round 1 – Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn (13); Round 2 – Titus Young, WR, Boise State (44); Round 2 – Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois (57); Round 5 – Doug Hogue, LB, Syracuse (157); Round 7 – Johnny Culbreath, OT, South Carolina State (209).
Picks left on the 2014 roster: 2 (Fairley, Leshoure)
Picks left in the NFL at the end of the 2013 season: 2 (Fairley, Leshoure)
Best pick: Fairley. Like in 2010, this is pretty much by default – although this really is by default, considering the rest of the horrific nature of this draft for Mayhew. Fairley has been an inconsistent defensive tackle for the Lions and the team is not picking up his fifth-year option, something detailed at length here. When he has decided to show his talent, he and Ndamukong Suh become one of the better defensive tackle tandems in the NFL. Those times, though, are rare.
If he can ever get himself in shape and playing at a consistent level and is still playing for the Lions at that point, he could end up making at least part of this draft worth it for Detroit.
Worst pick: Um, take your pick? In all seriousness, this entire draft was awful for Detroit, but no pick ended up worse than the selection of Titus Young. The Boise State wide receiver had a ton of talent and from a pure talent perspective, was well worth the second-round selection. By now, though, everyone knows how that worked out. In two seasons, Young had 81 catches for 990 yards and 10 touchdowns – actually good production. But then it all fell apart for him. He got into confrontations with coaches, teammates and opponents. The team eventually released him in February, 2013. St. Louis claimed him on waivers then released him soon after.
All of this before he was arrested three times in two weeks in May and Young’s father eventually said he had a brain disorder. It is a sad story for an immensely talented player and unfortunately a tale that future players might be able to learn from.
Best value pick: None. Seriously. The Lions received no value-compared-to-draft-position on any of their picks. Fairley has been inconsistent. Leshoure turned into a non-factor in 2013 and is not a lock to be on the 2014 roster by the start of the season. The other players are out of the league.
One pick I’d change (other than the worst one): This is going to be complicated. In the fifth round of this draft, the Lions had to flip their initial pick, the 140th selection, with Kansas City, which had the 154th pick. The Lions then traded down three places to 157 to take Doug Hogue. If I were the Lions, I would have stayed at No. 154. Why? The player Seattle took in that spot was a decent cornerback out of Stanford. His name – Richard Sherman.
SPECIAL SECTION: The Lions made some trades and had to swap picks due to tampering in this draft. In one trade, the Lions moved up to take Leshoure, giving away the Nos. 75 and 107 picks to Seattle. That deal also swapped the team’s fifth round picks (mentioned above) and seventh round picks. Here is who was taken with those Seattle selections.
As part of the Alphonso Smith deal with Denver, the Lions gave up pick No. 186 in the draft – and Green Bay, which ended up with the pick, selected D.J. Smith, OLB, Appalachian State. In the Chris Houston deal, the Lions gave up the No. 210 pick in the seventh round, which was used on Andrew Jackson, OG, Fresno State. Pick No. 231, which eventually ended up with Miami, ended up going from Detroit to San Francisco for Shaun Hill. Miami took Frank Kearse, DT, Alabama A&M.
Draft grade overall: F. Heck, if I could give this draft a "Z," I would. Seriously, this might be the worst draft in the history of drafts for the Lions – maybe in the history of the NFL. Of the team’s five draft picks, four ended up being arrested at least once during their NFL careers. Only two, Fairley and Leshoure, are still in the league. Only one, Fairley, made any sort of impact in the NFL. If you’re looking for reasons why the Lions had zero depth in 2013, look at the 2010 and specifically 2011 drafts for the reason why. This draft was laughably bad for Detroit. Not to cross over sports here in Detroit, but this entire draft was Kentavious Caldwell-Pope over Trey Burke for the Pistons last year bad. With every pick.