Detroit Lions: Lions draft

As rookie minicamp comes closer, the Detroit Lions are starting to sign their first-year player class.

On Thursday, the team signed fifth-round pick Caraun Reid. On Friday morning, defensive end Larry Webster (fourth round) and kicker Nate Freese (seventh round) both finalized their deals.

Terms were not immediately available.

Last year's pick at No. 136, where Webster was taken, was Philadelphia safety Earl Wolff. Wolff signed a four-year deal worth about $2.37 million, including a signing bonus of $212,000. So Webster's contract could be in that range.
It took almost a week, but the Detroit Lions have signed the first of their draft picks.

Defensive tackle Caraun Reid, a fifth-rounder out of Princeton, officially signed his deal according to his agent, Mike McCartney. Terms were not immediately disclosed.

Based off of the salary for last year's No. 158 selection -- Seattle tight end Luke Willson -- he received a signing bonus of $178,532 and that was the only guaranteed part of his salary in his four-year deal, which was worth a little over $2.33 million.

Reid had 168 tackles in his college career and 20 1/2 sacks. The Bronx, N.Y., native also had 41 tackles for loss and blocked seven kicks during his time with the Tigers. All this after picking up the game in high school at Mount St. Michael.

"I had good grades before I started playing," Reid said. "I didn't start playing until high school. One of those caveats was that I had to keep my grades up and I kept competing in the classroom, kept competing on the football field and Princeton liked me and I was able to get in, which was I would say the harder of the two."

Now, he has his first NFL contract.

The biggest issue for Detroit the rest of the way is fitting in the rookie salaries under the cap, but that should be achieved by filing contract restructures converting base salary into bonus money that can be spread out over a player's deal.
The Lions, lying in wait for the new year...

The 2014 draft is less than a week from being completed, but as is expected, thoughts toward the 2015 draft arise -- and the 2014 season hasn't even had its first practice of training camp yet.

Based on the current rosters, though, the folks over at Football Outsiders combined with ESPN analyst Todd McShay put together a very, very, very rough estimate of what the 2015 draft would look like.

And it has some not-so-great news for Lions fans.

Detroit would again be picking in the top half of the draft -- and that means again not making the playoffs. On the positive side, though, the Lions might actually take a defensive back for the first time this century.

Here's a look at what McShay cobbled together for a way early 2015 draft.

And now, a look at Lions news from around the Interwebs:
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Nate Freese knew there was a chance he would not hear his name called at all over NFL draft's three days. He hadn't been invited to the NFL combine. Kickers -- and punters -- get drafted less frequently than fullbacks.

Yet throughout the three-day madness that is the draft, Freese sat and watched. Every pick. Every round. It's become a tradition for him ever since he had teammates who could potentially hear their names called.

He wanted to hear that, so he watched, even though he was never quite sure if he would hear his own name. In the seventh round, he did, becoming the final pick made by the Detroit Lions and the second straight season the team has drafted a kicker or punter after taking Sam Martin last year.

"I knew some teams were interested but I was expecting, you know, whatever," Freese said. "But I think it's pretty awesome that it happened."

The Lions were in need of a kicker after Jason Hanson retired following the 2012 season and veteran free agent David Akers had an inconsistent 2013, leading to the Lions deciding not to bring him back for another year.

Detroit signed one kicker to a futures contracts -- Giorgio Tavecchio -- but there was always a feeling the Lions would end up either taking a kicker in the draft or finding one as an undrafted free agent.

Now that the team has invested a draft pick in a kicker, there's a good chance Freese becomes Detroit's starter in the fall. He was picked over other kickers because he does something better than most of the other kickers in his class -- he just makes field goals.

"He's kicked outside his whole career," Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said. "I think he'd be great in our division. Didn't miss a field goal last year. Think he missed two in 2012, I think.

"Very accurate guy. Very consistent."

Considering the Lions are hoping to find a kicker they can have for a decade or longer without concern -- like Hanson or some of the other more consistent kickers in the NFL, it made sense to grab one with this level of accuracy.

His range is a bit in question -- his long in college was 52 yards, but he said under the right conditions he could hit from around 60 yards -- although that can be improved through a NFL-level strength program over the next season or two.

Plus, kicking in a dome is not something Freese has done often. He played in Chestnut Hill, Mass., where winds often change direction and can alter plans for kickers. Playing for the Eagles, he also didn't receive many opportunities to take longer field goals over the past few seasons.

While he'll work on the range, the Lions anticipate the accuracy transitioning just fine. As long as it does, he's likely to be Detroit's kicker this season and beyond.

"It goes back to training and muscle memory," Freese said. "I like to go out there and do the same thing every time.

"I don't even really have to think about it. Just basically muscle memory."

It's a formula that led him to be one of two kickers selected in the draft -- making the entire watching process even more worth it.
Detroit went big on the outside in the beginning with tight end Eric Ebron, who is almost like a tall, hybrid wide receiver. The Lions, though, were almost definitely going to add another receiver during the draft.

They have long lamented the issues the team had in 2013 catching the ball and made some changes to the receiving group heading into this season, most notably releasing Nate Burleson (now injured again in Cleveland) and signing Golden Tate.

Then on Saturday, the Lions added another former Notre Dame receiver with good hands who can make plays -- TJ Jones.

To get some more information on Jones, I caught up with Notre Dame blogger Matt Fortuna, who covered him the past three seasons:

"Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was effusive in his praise of TJ Jones entering last season, confident that the senior captain was capable of being a true No. 1 receiver," Fortuna wrote. "Then Jones went right out and proved his boss right, notching a 1,000-yard season and earning MVP honors from his teammates.

"Jones was a study in steady advancement throughout his college career, showing improvements each season as he evolved from a possession receiver to a big-play threat. His frame took a beating in college, as he dealt with injuries from his ankle to his shoulder, but he was the model of consistency, a player the younger receivers looked up to as they learned to deal with the nicks and bruises that come throughout the fall.

"It wouldn't hurt Jones to get a little bit bigger, something he's well aware of, saying in April that his focus the past few months has been to add weight without sacrificing speed. But Jones' attitude and pedigree have all the makings of a long, solid NFL career. His late father, Andre, was an end on the Irish's last national title team in 1988, and Jones has been leaning heavily on his godfather, Raghib Ismail, throughout the past five months."
The Lions, lying in wait for a new year ...

When the final day of the NFL draft began Saturday afternoon, Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew knew he was going to focus on defensive players. They had some of their top players identified, but unlike every other round in the draft, Detroit had to sit and wait.

And wait and wait. By trading up for linebacker Kyle Van Noy, the Lions gave up their first fourth-round pick, meaning they wouldn't select a player until the compensatory period at the end of the round. And while Van Noy was a smart pick that filled a major need, Mayhew saw a bunch of players he wanted on the final day disappear off the board before he had a chance to make a move.

"When you start getting into the sixth, seventh rounds, we were seeing good players, so the depth was there," Mayhew said. "It’s hard sitting there, especially the whole fourth round and watching that whole round go by because we liked a lot of those guys, and then see them getting drafted.

"There were still good guys in the fourth, fifth round.”

The waiting is essentially long for everyone on the final day -- a day that can stretch sometimes over five or six hours. It's long for the coaching staffs and front offices, who have to wait on selecting players and then start to make free-agent moves. It is long on agents, who likely have to do some ego control on their clients.

And it is long on the prospects, who still have little control over anything in this entire journey -- especially once the draft hits.

On the Lions' final day, they snagged a cornerback (Nevin Lawson), defensive end (Larry Webster), defensive tackle (Caraun Reid), wide receiver (TJ Jones) and a kicker (Nate Freese). The list of undrafted free agents -- while many names, including Kansas State offensive tackle Cornelius Jones and Missouri quarterback James Franklin have started to surface -- has not been released yet.

No matter if the players are picked, though, much of that changes this weekend, when Detroit holds its rookie minicamp.

And now a look around the Interwebs in search of Lions news:
It was a draft that started with criticism on Thursday night and ended with the feeling of an average draft -- not an average draft for the Detroit Lions, which isn't always good, but an average draft for an average NFL team.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., who does this every year, feels similarly. He seemed impressed about what the Lions could present offensively at their skill positions and, like I wrote in this space, really liked the selection of Kyle Van Noy in the second round. But Kiper also sees the the same issues everyone else does.

The Lions went into the draft needing help in the secondary. They leave the draft not much better in the area. Overall, Kiper Jr. gave the Lions a B-minus grade, right in line with what an average draft would be.

To read the rest of Kiper's analysis, check out this linkInsider.

In tandem with Kiper's analysis, draft analyst Todd McShay listed his favorite pick by team and, somewhat in line with what I wrote Saturday, he believes in Princeton defensive tackle Caraun Reid. The fifth-round selection has nice size, extreme intelligence and won't be counted on right away. He can develop into a role and has talented people to learn from in Ndamukong Suh, C.J. Mosley and Nick Fairley.

Here's what I wrote about Reid on Saturday -- and what McShay wrote about him Sunday.
Here are some day-after thoughts on how the Detroit Lions did in the 2014 draft, with some time to sleep, reflect and also see the entire board of what they were trying to do.
  • The best pick the Lions made is probably second-round linebacker Kyle Van Noy. He fills an absolute need and Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew all but said Saturday night that he’ll be a starter in the fall. That probably means Ashlee Palmer’s job is in definite trouble as the third linebacker. But Van Noy gives Detroit some defensive flexibility. In person, he is a lot bigger than I initially anticipated. He’s put together pretty well.
  • I panned the Eric Ebron pick throughout the draft -- not because Ebron won’t be a good player, but because of who the team passed on at the point. Detroit desperately needed secondary help entering the draft and still needs help leaving the draft. Frankly, they needed defensive help overall, but they took care of some of those other needs later on -- including Van Noy. But Ebron felt more like a luxury. That said, if he becomes more of a wide receiver, which is entirely possible, it could end up being a very strong pick.
  • Speaking of the secondary -- this was probably Mayhew’s biggest failing during the three-day period. Of the team’s eight picks, Detroit used only one on its back seven -- in the fourth round on cornerback Nevin Lawson. Mayhew lauded Lawson’s speed, but his height stands out. For months, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin explained how important tall cornerbacks were and in his history, he has often preferred players over 6-foot. Lawson is 5-foot-9. When asked about that, Mayhew said he was a short defensive back, so he can’t be prejudiced about that. Nine corners went off the board in the fourth round before Detroit picked Lawson -- and one wonders how many of those were higher up on the Lions' board.
  • Fourth-rounder Larry Webster could end up being a good one -- but it won’t be for a couple of years. He played at small-school Bloomsburg and has a good pedigree since his father played in the NFL. But even Mayhew acknowledged he is very raw at the position. He seems like an ideal candidate to learn for a year before being counted on for anything.
  • Drafting kicker Nate Freese in the seventh round likely means either John Potter or Giorgio Tavecchio probably won’t be long for Detroit. The other will compete with Freese for the Lions’ kicking duties.
  • Really like the addition of Caraun Reid. He is probably a bit of a developmental project as a defensive tackle coming from a small school, but he is an extremely intelligent and well-rounded person having gone to Princeton. As with many late-round guys, he’ll make the team because of special teams at first -- and that is where he might excel. He appears to have a knack for blocking kicks, as he did that seven times at Princeton.
  • T.J. Jones could end up being a surprise as well. He’s a receiver from Notre Dame who had 70 catches for 1,108 yards and nine touchdowns last season -- and was targeted 109 times by Irish quarterbacks. He will likely put pressure on Ryan Broyles and Jeremy Ross in the slot for a roster spot and playing time.
  • Good chance third-round pick Travis Swanson won’t play much this season on offense, but he was drafted to be the team’s starting center of the future -- unless he ends up as a starting guard. It’s a fair bet he replaces either current center Dominic Raiola or left guard Rob Sims by 2015.
  • If Detroit can get some production out of its third-day players like it did out of the 2013 draft, the Lions’ draft will likely look a lot better in retrospect than it does right now. But that’s the thing with all of this. Until teams get on the field, this will all be speculation at best. A bit more informed speculation than before the draft, but we’ll see how some of these players fit.
  • The Lions’ undrafted free agents and tryout camp players won’t be official until at least Monday and things can change quickly, so until it is official, be wary. But former Missouri quarterback James Franklin tweeted he will be joining the Lions -- and since the Lions did not draft a quarterback this weekend, that seems like a pretty safe bet. Among the other players who tweeted they will be a part of either the Lions’ roster or rookie camp are Nebraska cornerback Mohammed Seisay, Appalachian State wide receiver Andrew Peacock, Kansas State offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas, Tennessee offensive lineman Alex Bullard and Oklahoma cornerback Gabe Lynn. The Detroit Free Press is reporting William and Mary safety Jerome Couplin, Robert Morris offensive lineman A.J. Dalton and Louisiana-Lafayette tight end Jacob Maxwell will also be undrafted free agents.
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- A wrap-up of the Detroit Lions' draft.

Best move: Trading up five slots to take linebacker Kyle Van Noy in the second round Friday night. He was clearly one of the top players on Detroit's board after the first day and a player the Lions front office has theoretically targeted for over a year after first seeing him while scouting Ezekiel Ansah in 2012. The Lions needed linebacker depth and someone who could be versatile enough to start right away. In Van Noy, they have a linebacker who can play every down and is both adept at rushing the passer and dropping into coverage, as evidenced by the seven interceptions in his career.

Riskiest move: Waiting until the third day to take any secondary help. That the team ignored both cornerback and safety throughout the first three rounds was more shocking than surprising, considering two of the bigger needs entering the draft. That they focused two of those three picks over the first three days on offense is even more so. For a franchise that has placed a premium on winning now while Calvin Johnson is still in his prime, not bolstering an area where the team's cornerbacks have questions about ability, age or productivity is somewhat surprising. Detroit might have hoped a cornerback would fall to No. 133 in the fourth round, but none of the bigger ones did and the Lions ended up with Nevin Lawson, who is the opposite of the tall type of corner defensive coordinator Teryl Austin covets. Lawson was a three-year starter at Utah State but had more than one interception only once, when he had four picks as a senior.

Most surprising move: The Lions focusing on offense for two of the first three picks after the team spent a lot of their primary free-agent dollars on signing receiver Golden Tate and re-signing running back Joique Bell and tight end Brandon Pettigrew. Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew continued to say throughout the draft that the team's defense and offense were not that far apart. He used the stat that the Lions were 15th in points allowed last season -- except Detroit lost a defensive end off of that team, Willie Young, whom it has yet to adequately replace and are still thin at safety. The Lions could have used another playmaker in the back end out of this draft, especially after passing on the secondary in the first day.

File it away: Mayhew said before the draft that a successful one would have three starters, three contributors and three developmental players. With eight picks, Detroit won't get there exactly through the draft, but if you were to project out, those starters in the 2014 draft -- likely most beyond 2014 -- are tight end Eric Ebron, Van Noy and kicker Nate Freese from Boston College. The contributors would be defensive tackle Caraun Reid (fifth round), wide receiver TJ Jones (sixth round) and center/guard Travis Swanson (third round). As far as developmental picks go, those could be Lawson (fourth round), defensive end Larry Webster (fourth round) and a likely undrafted free agent. Of course, as is with every draft, the true barometer of how this class fares will be beyond this season, if not longer.
Some needs have been taken care of. Others, somewhat startlingly, remain on Detroit’s board. This is how the final day of the 2014 NFL draft will begin for the Lions.

With a few answers, a lot of questions and, as of now, four picks remaining. In those four picks -- two of which can’t be traded -- the Lions will likely have to find a developmental quarterback and potentially some depth at linebacker and the defensive line. Maybe another wide receiver.

Oh, and if you missed it, the Lions still have addressed zero needs in the secondary, a position of constant flux in Detroit.

Entering Saturday's four rounds, the Lions have picks Nos. 133 and 136 in the fourth round, pick 146 in the fifth round and No. 189 in the sixth round. It wouldn’t be shocking, though, to see Detroit trade either a player or a pick either this year or next to acquire at least one more selection.

Either that, or they’ll just have to have faith that they can unearth undrafted free-agent contributors like they did with LaAdrian Waddle and Joseph Fauria last season.

Here, though, are 10 players Detroit may target during the final day of the draft. Not the order of their board, just players that could get a heavy look at some point.

1. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia: The Lions will likely take a developmental quarterback and Murray is a potential choice. Of course, if Tom Savage or A.J. McCarron are still around when they pick at the end of the fourth round, they could look to one of those players, too.

2. Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood: As mentioned Friday, he has the height Teryl Austin wants at the position. That he is still around on the third day might have more to do with the competition he played in his career than his actual talent level.

3. Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson: Another player on our Friday list, he is a physical corner who likely won’t last until Detroit’s pick, but should get picked up quick if he is.

4. Brock Vereen, S, Minnesota: He has versatility in that he could play safety, nickel and corner if need be. He's very good against the run, which means he could allow Glover Quin to play deep if he were able to beat out James Ihedigbo for the job. Smart player and good instincts.

5. Kelcy Quarles, DT, South Carolina: He's better against the run than the pass and would be a developmental pick.

6. Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida: He would be a major chance pick, but if he worked out -- and if he doesn’t get drafted, he should be an immediate priority free agent call because of his talent -- he could be a late-round gem. He is extremely talented and if he can deal with some issues with homesickness, he could be a steal.

7. Yawin Smallwood, LB, Connecticut: Classic production-type player that could be a late-round find. He’s not going to wow you in any area, but he is a fundamentally strong football player who is not afraid of contact and is good against the run.

8. Jaylen Watkins, DB, Florida: The Lions did extensive research on his half-brother, Sammy, but they could end up with Jaylen. He can play both corner and safety if need be, and like Vereen above, is going to just be an average player who won’t be a huge difference-maker but won’t hurt you too much, either. If the Lions have some confidence in their secondary, they could take Watkins as a plug-in player at either spot.

9. Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson: It would be doubtful he’d still be there at the end of the fourth round, but he is one receiver that could be worth taking at that point. His size/speed combination would be of great value at that point and could turn the Lions’ pass-catching operation into a group Matthew Stafford could almost never aim too high on with a ball.

10. Lamin Barrow, LB, LSU: Instinctual player who can handle the run and play every down. If the the Lions were to ever consider making the move to a 3-4 defense or a true hybrid-capability defense, they need to find at least one more linebacker since they might have a lot of those pieces on the defensive line already. He also has special-teams experience, which is a late-round key for Detroit. Watch this name.

Others to watch (draft or free agents): Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU; Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech; McCarron; Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin; Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh; Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan; Bennie Fowler, WR, Michigan State; Matt Patchan, OT, Boston College; Conor Boffeli, OG, Iowa; Gabe Ikard, C, Oklahoma; Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton; Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU: Larry Webster, DE, Bloomsburg; Michael Sam, DE, Missouri; Cassius Marsh, DE, UCLA; Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State; Denicos Allen, LB, Michigan State; Avery Williamson, LB, Kentucky; Prince Shembo, LB, Notre Dame; Devon Kennard, LB, USC; Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty; Ty Zimmerman, S, Kansas State; Lonnie Ballentine, S, Memphis; Nate Freese, K, Boston College.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Through two days of the NFL draft, the Detroit Lions' three draft picks have little in common.

None played in the same time zone as another. None even played in the same conference, as Detroit picked players from the ACC, SEC and independents.

One thing they do have in common -- and it is something that is actually surprising when dealing with athletes in their early 20s -- all three of their picks are either engaged or married. First round pick Eric Ebron proposed to his girlfriend, Brittany Rountree, on Thursday -- she said yes. Second round pick Kyle Van Noy is engaged to a former Miss Utah, Marissa Powell. And third round pick Travis Swanson beat the rest of his class to the altar, marrying the former Emily Holder on March 22.

It is a strange coincidence to have, but maybe there is something to it. After all, listen to how Swanson described his wife when asked if marriage has helped him with football.

"I think the biggest thing that it helped me with is that she is essentially my rock," Swanson said. "If something stressful is happening during the day, I know I can come home to her.

"She knows how to calm me down a bit and tell me everything is OK."

Swanson said the teams who asked him about it all viewed his relationship status as engaged and then married as "positive."

Of course, the draft class isn't the only group with pending wedding plans, as quarterback Matthew Stafford proposed to his longtime girlfriend, former Georgia cheerleader Kelly Hall, earlier this year.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Martin Mayhew has said often the Detroit Lions are going to focus on their board and take who they deem the best player available.

On Thursday night, it left the Lions selecting a player who seemed like a luxury instead of a significant need. On Friday, Detroit came away with two players who could fill major roles potentially early.

Two areas the team was going to handle in the draft was to find a linebacker with pass-rush ability who could be versatile and an eventual replacement for veteran center Dominic Raiola.

[+] EnlargeLions GM Martin Mayhew
AP Photo/Paul Sancya"I certainly didn't mean to let on that I didn't have any confidence in our secondary if I did," Lions GM Martin Mayhew said.
Detroit did by drafting linebacker Kyle Van Noy from BYU in the second round and then offensive lineman Travis Swanson, who can play both guard and center, in the third round. These two picks represent a smart second day of drafting for general manager Martin Mayhew, who took cornerback Darius Slay in the second round and right guard Larry Warford in the third round last season.

They filled those needs then and did again now.

“Like I said a couple of days ago, we just want to keep getting good football players,” Mayhew said. “We want to improve our front seven, our secondary, our offensive line, our receiver corps. We want to keep adding good football players to this football team.

“That's what our goal is.”

It's a goal accomplished Friday with a caveat. As the Lions have filled some of those needs, there is one area that remains empty.

The secondary.

It's a curious decision by Detroit, considering Mayhew and Jim Caldwell have expressed concern about cornerback Chris Houston returning to form while Rashean Mathis climbs toward his mid-30s and the rest of the cornerbacks are unproven or untested. At safety, the Lions have a surefire starter in Glover Quin and another potential starter in James Ihedigbo, but he is also on the wrong side of 30.

After going two days in the draft with no cornerbacks or safeties selected, Mayhew seems unconcerned by this theoretical defensive hole. When asked if not drafting a defensive back meant he has more confidence than previously thought in the secondary, he insisted he does have confidence in a back end that inspired little of it last season.

“I certainly didn't mean to let on that I didn't have any confidence in our secondary if I did,” Mayhew said. “But yeah, as I said to you guys before, it's not about what position these guys play. We want to keep drafting good players. If we do that, we'll have a talented football team.

“Again, going back to last year, like I said to you guys before, we were 15th in points allowed, which is right in the middle of the pack. We were first on third-down defense. I think we were ranked first or second in red zone defense, so I have confidence in our entire defense.”

It didn't seem that way before, but as more of the draft passes by and more and more defensive backs are taken off the board -- nine cornerbacks and six safeties Thursday and Friday -- the Lions better hope that by addressing positions other than the secondary, they are making the right decision.

Otherwise, it might not matter how many good football players they collect at other positions because stopping the pass in the NFC North might be more difficult than ever.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Kyle Van Noy is ready for the reunion. He's ready to line up again behind the player whom he believed in from the beginning -- behind the player he once told if he kept working hard enough, he could be a high draft pick.

The player Van Noy touted back then was Ezekiel Ansah. The two were teammates and sometimes roommates at BYU, where Ansah first played football and learned a lot about the game.

"The first time I met him, I was like, 'Dang, he's big and he has a lot of potential,'" Van Noy said. "I told him he could go really high in the draft if he works really hard and masters his craft. He's got good enough to go to the Lions, and last year, he did pretty well.

"He just has to stay healthy and we'll see him as a Pro Bowler in my opinion.”

[+] EnlargeKyle Van Noy
Boyd Ivey/Icon SMIKyle Van Noy will reunite with former BYU teammate Ezekiel Ansah on the Detroit Lions defense.
Van Noy believed in Ansah then. He still does now -- and they will again be teammates after Van Noy was selected by the Lions in the second round Friday night. And this time, it was Ansah expressing excitement about being reunited with his former roommate, tweeting about the pick and then calling Van Noy to celebrate with him.

When Ansah called, the two started laughing, and then Ansah started calling Van Noy "teammate” again. And his happiness didn't stop there.

"Already texted me and said, ‘Great, can't wait until he gets here,'" defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. "I think those guys, any time you have some people, it'll help Kyle because he's coming into a new situation, that somebody's here to show him the ropes and tell him how it works.

"I think that's always good.”

The Lions, in essence, found Van Noy because of Ansah. When Detroit's staff started scouting Ansah for the 2013 draft, it kept noticing the guy behind him making a lot of plays -- and Van Noy, a junior, was in the midst of his best season, when he had 53 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, seven pass breakups and two interceptions.

So while the Lions didn't necessarily take major notes on Van Noy then, they definitely remembered who he was when they started scouting this season.

"It was ‘Who is this guy?'" Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said. "We were watching Ziggy and this guy is making all these plays.”

The guy who made all those plays turned into someone Detroit had at or near the top of its board entering the second round. Mayhew was so insistent on grabbing him -- or one of the other three players he said were must-gets entering the second day -- that the Lions started with Houston at pick 33 and kept calling until they found a suitable trade-up partner.

Seattle was willing to make the move, so the Lions were able to get their target and reunited two old friends and teammates along with filling a linebacker need.

"I'm happy where I'm at,” Van Noy said. "I landed at a great spot.”
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Some thoughts on the Detroit Lions’ second-round pick.

The pick: Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU

My take: It was thought the Lions might trade up or back in the first round for a player. Instead, it happened in the second round, as Detroit made the move up from No. 45 to No. 40 to take a linebacker, filling one of the many defensive needs the team has. This will give the Lions the pass-rushing linebacker they needed -- and puts him back with his former college teammate Ezekiel Ansah, the defensive end the Lions selected in the first round last season.

Van Noy is a smart player who is productive, having made 226 tackles in his career with 62 tackles for loss, 26 sacks and seven interceptions. He should be able to step in immediately in 4-3 settings along with Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy.

In return for the No. 40 pick, Detroit gave up its fourth- and seventh-round picks this year. It got back a fifth-rounder.

Two for two: The Lions appear to be loading up on engaged players so far in this draft. First-round pick Eric Ebron proposed to his girlfriend, Brittany Rountree, before the first round of the NFL draft Thursday. Now there's Van Noy, whose official bio handed out by the Lions says he is engaged to Miss Utah USA, Marissa Powell.

What’s next: The Lions pick at No. 76, the 12th pick in the third round.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Eric Ebron had been a Detroit Lion for less than 24 hours when he stood up at the podium, looked out at the media, looked down at the recorders taping his every word Friday afternoon and was still in amazement.

On Wednesday afternoon, he was a man waiting for a team and still in a relationship. By Thursday night, he was officially in the National Football League and a newly engaged man. So there are wind storms, whirlwinds and then things that can completely spin your head.

"This all seems fake right now," Ebron said at his introductory press conference. "Like, I'm not even here. Ever since I woke up."

[+] EnlargeEric Ebron
AP Photo/Craig RuttleEric Ebron became engaged and a top-10 draft pick all in one day.
Somewhat surprisingly to everyone but the Detroit Lions, he was in Michigan on Friday afternoon as the second tight end the team has spent a first-round pick on in the past six seasons. And it all started in New York City the day before.

The pick was criticized in the immediate aftermath of the selection, but Ebron paid little attention to that. He was too happy to care. Too happy to talk about anything negative on what was the best personal and professional day of his life Thursday.

See, Ebron not only became a NFL player on Thursday night, he picked up a fiancée, too, finalizing something he thought about for months and then planned for weeks. That began Thursday morning, when Ebron convinced his then-girlfriend, Brittany Rountree, that a visit to the Empire State Building was part of his schedule of events on draft day.

Rountree thought something was different, but in the elevator on the way up near the top of the building, Ebron calmed her down. Told her to "go with the flow.” To relax. This was how he made her feel comfortable, what turned a friendship that began at freshman orientation at North Carolina to a drama class taken together to a friendship and then a relationship.

Now, two years later, they were headed to an uncertain future together in an elevator.

"I was still trying to figure out what was going on,” Rountree said Friday. "Like why are we here.”

She'd find out. They reached the top and Ebron dropped to one knee, proposing to his girlfriend. She cried a little bit. It would be the only thing that could top what would come later. For Ebron, there is some symmetry to this. He lived for a while in the shadows of the building he proposed in, in the city that his life would change in.

Ebron was born in northern New Jersey and spent the first few years of his life in Newark, New Jersey, where his father works for the school district. So it fit, somewhat, that his father, Eric Ebron Sr., would get stuck in traffic Thursday heading from Jersey to Manhattan. That is, after all, all too typical of traveling into New York City.

Ebron Sr., like his son, would head to Radio City Music Hall, where the name Eric Ebron would be read by former Lions running back Barry Sanders with the No. 10 pick. When Ebron heard his name and saw Sanders, he didn't want to let go.

"Wooooo,” Ebron said Friday. "When he walked up there, I was like, whoever gets this pick, man, look. I didn't want to start hugging the man but I had to a little bit.

"We was on television. I didn't want nobody else to miss their pick so I had to let him go.”

He did and after Ebron went through his required post-pick duties and interviews, he and his family went to Tao, not far from Radio City Music Hall, for a late dinner and celebration with his family. Then he slept for about 90 minutes before waking up, jumping on a plane with his family and heading to his new home in Detroit.

That was the last 24 hours of Ebron -- a 24 hours that completely shifted his life.

"We're finally here. We are finally here,” Ebron's mother, Gina Jackson, said. "I knew this moment would come. He just stayed hungry and stayed humble and do what he had to do.

"We are here. Like, 'Yes, dreams do come true.'"