While Mayhew's first draft as the team's actual general manager took place in 2009, he had been working with the team since the middle of the 2004 season as the Lions' assistant general manager. He did not make final decisions when it came to the draft in those first few years -- Matt Millen was still the general manager then -- he was certainly part of the group that helped influence what happened with the Lions.
In 2012, Mayhew actually got a chance to do something rare in Detroit: Have a pick that belongs to a playoff team. He spent his first three seasons as the team’s general manager in the top half of the draft and two of those seasons in the Top 2 of the draft for at least one pick. This would be the only time the team has picked lower than 13th with their first pick in his tenure to date.
The pick: No. 23
The player selected: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
The player’s credentials at the time: Reiff was rated as the No. 18 player on the ESPN.com board and as the No. 2 offensive tackle behind USC’s Matt Kalil. While there was some concern he could be a dominant left tackle, there was little doubt he could play right tackle in the NFL fairly quickly. His Scouts.com profile lauded his durability and described him as “above average” in pass protection, run blocking, awareness and toughness.
Did the pick make sense at the time: Yes. Detroit knew Jeff Backus was getting up in years and much like they might do with Dominic Raiola this season, needed to find someone to groom as his replacement. The team had also not selected an offensive lineman in the first round since 2008, when they picked Gosder Cherilus from Boston College.
Did he end up being a good pick: Yes. Reiff was part of one of the top offensive lines in football last season. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed seven sacks, eight quarterback hits and 34 quarterback hurries in his first season as the team’s left tackle and a full-time starter. Those numbers were in the middle of the pack for tackles, according to PFF.
Who should the Lions have taken at No. 23: One could argue for Martin or Smith considering the issues the Lions ended up having at running back and safety during the 2012 season, but Reiff has worked out nicely for Detroit thus far. He started every game at left tackle last season and looks like he could be the team’s future blocking Matthew Stafford's blind side.
What can Detroit learn from this: If you have needs or potential needs down the road, fill them if you can to allow apprenticeship. Not too much to criticize or learn from here. It might be too soon to see if the Reiff pick really pans out or not for the Lions.