BBAO: Judging Mayhew without a curve

We're Black and Blue All Over:

Another sign of the Detroit Lions' progress? We have our first evidence of higher expectations for general manager Martin Mayhew as the 2011 draft approaches. In rebuilding the Lions, writes Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News, Mayhew has only accomplished "the easy part."

Wojnowski: Eventually, we'll learn to grade Mayhew on his own merits, not on the At-Least-He's-Not-as-Awful-as-Millen scale. On any scale, Mayhew and his scouting staff have done fine, as the Lions have risen from 0-16 to 2-14 to 6-10. But again, not to be flippant, that's the easy part. This is the hard part, when you're actually choosing with the masses. ... Mayhew, 45, has been with the franchise 10 years, but didn't get a chance to make an impact until now. He's part of the big five -- including [Jim] Schwartz, [Matthew] Stafford, [Ndamukong] Suh and [Calvin] Johnson -- that will determine if the Lions get back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999. Landing a "Monday Night Football" appearance was a nice little bauble, but they shouldn't crave nice little baubles anymore."

I'm sure Mayhew wouldn't have it any other way. The Lions are a better team than they were when he assumed control in 2008. But can they make the jump to "good" without the advantage of a top-10 draft position? That's a fair question to judge him on now.

Continuing around the NFC North: