- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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Over the last two weeks, we took a look at the last 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 garner the most attention.
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.
Complete draft (pick number in parentheses): Round 1 -- Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia (1); Round 1 -- Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State (20); Round 2 -- Louis Delmas, S, Western Michigan (33); Round 3 -- DeAndre Levy, LB, Wisconsin (76); Round 3 -- Derrick Williams, WR, Penn State (82); Round 4 -- Sammie Hill, DT, Stillman (115); Round 6 -- Aaron Brown, RB, TCU (192); Round 7 -- Lydon Murtha, OT, Nebraska (228); Round 7 -- Zack Follett, LB, California (235); Round 7 -- Dan Gronkowski, TE, Maryland (255).
Picks left on the 2014 roster: 3 (Stafford, Pettigrew, Levy)
Picks left in the NFL at the end of the 2013 season: 5 (Stafford, Pettigrew, Delmas, Levy, Hill)
Best pick: Stafford. This might seem like the easy selection, but in his first five seasons in the league he has set franchise records and actually become the best Lions quarterback since Bobby Layne. Of course, that's not exactly a high bar considering the motley group of quarterbacks between Layne and Stafford, but he is a strong-armed quarterback who turned out to be, by far, the best quarterback in his draft class.
Thus far in his career, Stafford has thrown for 17,457 yards, 109 touchdowns and 73 interceptions. While his accuracy (career 59.5 percent passer in the regular season) and decision-making are still major questions for him entering his sixth season with the Lions, the team has completely committed to him after giving him a massive contract extension prior to the 2013 season. For better or for worse, Detroit will be at the mercy of the play of its newly-engaged quarterback.
Worst pick: Williams. The third round pick signed a three-year deal with the Lions when he was drafted out of Penn State and didn't even it make it to the end of his first contract before being released. Williams played in 18 games during his two seasons with the Lions and caught nine passes for 82 yards. He never caught a touchdown. Even more telling -- he only had 17 targets and only 14 yards after the catch in his career.
Best value pick: Levy. The No. 76 overall pick, Levy took a step this season toward becoming one of the top linebackers in the NFL. He had 118 tackles in 2013 -- the second time in his career he topped the 100-tackle mark -- and also had six interceptions. He was Detroit's second-best defensive player in 2013 behind Ndamukong Suh and appears to be heading into the prime of his career. He graded out as the seventh-best 4-3 outside linebacker in the league this season by Pro Football Focus and the third-best in pass coverage. Considering the mess that was the 2009 draft, if teams were to re-draft today, Levy could have been a late first-rounder in 2009.
One pick I'd change (other than the worst one): This one will be a little bit shocking, mostly because it is a higher pick and not fixing part of the Lions' late round miscues this season. If I had to switch one pick in this draft, it would have been taking Jairus Byrd over Delmas in the second round. This has little to do with Delmas' production as he was a good player for the Lions and a starter during his time with the tea,. Rather, Byrd went less than 10 slots later and has turned into a Pro Bowler who was too expensive for Detroit during free agency. He would have offered more stability at the position than Delmas did and would have been healthier as well.
Draft grade overall: B. Detroit got four starters out of this draft class -- Stafford, Pettigrew, Delmas and Levy -- and a contributor for four seasons in Hill. That's not terrible out of a 10-pick class where four of those picks were sixth or seventh round selections. The Lions ended up hitting on their first four picks in that draft with those four starters. Detroit should want that type of success rate every draft. The reason the grade on this draft is not higher is because none of the starters have made a Pro Bowl yet or been named All-Pro. But they have been solid starters and two of those players, Stafford and Levy, could end up at that elite level soon.