Travis Lewis' departure adds to a dwindling 2012 Lions draft class

The Detroit Lions are likely to lose Travis Lewis to division foe Minnesota when the new league year opens later Wednesday. With his departure, the franchise's 2012 draft class is close to going the same way as the entire 2010 and 2011 editions.

Out of Detroit and in a lot of cases, out of the NFL.

The Lions have one player from the class left under contract, tackle Riley Reiff, and another one who could end up with the Lions or elsewhere in linebacker Tahir Whitehead. That's it. The rest are out of the league.

Second round pick Ryan Broyles didn't play in the NFL last season. Bill Bentley had two stints with the Lions and was cut both times. Chris Greenwood and Jonte Green didn't play last season and linebacker Ronnell Lewis played in eight career games.

It was still a more successful class for the Lions than 2010 and 2011, but yet another reason why the franchise has continued to be inconsistent. It was a draft that should have built depth and it never really happened, at least not in the long term.

Lewis turned out to be one of the better players for the Lions in that draft. He didn't provide the eventual upside of Whitehead, who could end up as an NFL starter next season, but he had good special teams value for Detroit. He played on all four units and had 18 special teams tackles in essentially three seasons.

Lewis is a smart player and showed the capability of being a fill-in linebacker when necessary. With the Lions, his time was likely going to be short. Detroit has a new front office and the franchise has a glut of special teams-type linebackers on the roster already with Brandon Copeland, Jerry Franklin, Khaseem Greene and theoretically Josh Bynes if he were to lose a starting role.

That made Lewis less of a priority for the Lions and Fox Sports reported Wednesday he's headed to the Minnesota Vikings, where if he makes the 53-man roster he'll face his old team for the first time.