This week, we’re looking specifically at 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, who 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. 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 – Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska (2); Round 1 – Jahvid Best, RB, California (30); Round 3 – Amari Spievey, CB, Iowa (66); Round 4 – Jason Fox, OT, Miami (Fla.) (128); Round 7 – Willie Young, DE, NC State (213); Round 7 – Tim Toone, WR, Weber State (255).
Picks left on the 2014 roster: 1 (Suh)
Picks left in the NFL at the end of the 2013 season: 3 (Suh, Fox, Young)
Best pick: Suh. Beyond the obvious after looking at this draft that there weren’t many contributors for the Lions overall, Suh has been exactly what was expected when the team used the second overall pick on him. He has been a dominant defensive tackle who can change games and demands attention at all times from opposing offenses. He is Detroit's best defender and was named by NFL players as the most feared player in the NFL following the 2013 season.
He became part of a trio of stars for the Lions who have spent their entire careers with Detroit. The biggest question with him now is if and when he will sign his long-term contract extension or a new contract that would lock him up in Detroit for the remainder of his career.
Worst pick: Best. Considering the Lions moved back into the first round to draft the diminutive running back with a history of concussions and then watched as head injuries ended his career after two seasons, 22 games and 255 total carries, this didn’t work out as the team would have expected. As mentioned in the first-round review, the Lions could have had Dexter McCluster either at this pick or at the initial No. 34 pick they traded to move up and get Best. Considering McCluster’s production in his career, that has to sting.
Best value pick: Young. For a seventh-round selection, Young turned into a starter and a productive player last season for the Lions. He played in 48 games for Detroit, made 72 tackles and had six sacks. While those numbers might not stand out, consider he had 47 of those tackles and three of those sacks last season in his first significant action. If the Lions were able to get this type of production out of a sixth- or seventh-round pick every season, they would end up being a much better franchise. These are the types of picks that pan out for good teams more often than not. Young is no longer a Lion, having signed a three-year, $9 million deal with Chicago last month. It will be interesting to see if Young continues to develop into the player he was rounding into during his final season with the Lions.
One pick I’d change (other than the worst one): Considering Victor Cruz, Sam Shields, Joique Bell, Chris Ivory and LeGarrette Blount all went undrafted, I would flip Detroit’s pick of Mr. Irrelevant for 2010 -- Toone -- and draft Bell. While that might seem nice in hindsight (although of those players, Cruz and Shields are better than Bell), he would have been a good local angle for the team to select since he played at Wayne State and ended up in Detroit anyway.
Draft grade overall: D. If that seems harsh, look at it from the perspective of now. The Lions have one pick left on the roster from that draft. Three picks -- Best, Spievey and Toone -- are out of the league. Fox couldn’t stay healthy even when he won the right tackle job last season and signed a veteran minimum deal with Miami this offseason to prove he can be healthy. Young, a seventh-rounder, ended up being the clear second-best pick in that draft. If Suh or Young hadn’t panned out, this would have been an F.