NFC North: Scott McEwen
Detroit's decision to promote Martin Mayhew to replace general manager Matt Millen had at least one predictable byproduct: Mayhew left the Lions' college scouting staff intact despite years of an admittedly poor draft record.
Mayhew, a member of the Lions' front office since 2001, has focused his efforts on improving the team's process rather than replacing its people. NFL teams don't always announce changes within their personnel department, but a review of the personnel staff directory on the Lions' Web site reveals only one difference from their 2008 media guide: James "Shack" Harris was hired as a senior personnel executive, while former assistant director of pro personnel Dave Boller was let go.
Most notably, director of college scouting Scott McEwen has returned for his 23rd season with the team. Mayhew heartily endorsed his work during a news conference Tuesday.
Mayhew: "Let me just say this: I think Scott McEwen has done a phenomenal job for us, setting the board this year as he has in the past. I think he's just a tremendous evaluator. I like our college scouts. I think there have been some mistakes made in the past and there's been a lot of noise in the system, so to speak, but again, I'm totally focused on the future and not the past."
Mayhew has made several changes to the way the Lions make final decisions on players, encouraging more communication and dialogue than in the past. Earlier this winter, Mayhew also said the Lions will make a greater commitment to developing the players they do draft. "You don't give up on your guys," he said in January.
Today, there are six players remaining from the Lions' drafts between 2000-2006 -- an expanse that should comprise the core of the current team. Overall, 17 of the 72 players now on the roster were originally Lions draft choices.
Asked Tuesday how things will be different moving forward, Mayhew said:
"I think we'll be more efficient. I think we'll be much more prepared. I think we spent a lot of time already talking about how we stack players [in] the first 33. We've had several meetings on that. We're having our dialogue now. ..."
This isn't to suggest that Mayhew won't eventually make some changes. Historically, most NFL teams prefer to shuffle their personnel department in the spring, which is the start of "draft season." Wiping out a scouting staff in January would throw draft preparations into a state of unproductive upheaval. But based on Mayhew's comments, it seems unlikely that a massive overhaul is looming.