Friday, May 1, 2009

2009 NFL Draft Grades: Detroit Lions

I introduced this new feature yesterday. Today we get the first (and second) team draft recap and grade. Hm, where should I start?

The 2008 Detroit Lions were the first team in NFL history to go win less, finishing the season an epic (in the wrong way) 0-16. They were terrible both on offense ranking 24th or lower in points scored, passing yards, rushing yards, and total yards per game. If possible, they were even worse on defense. The disastrous 2008 Lions were 32nd (read: dead last) in points, rushing yards, and total yards allowed per game (they were only 27th in passing yards allowed/game). How do you fix this train wreck? Well, like every organization, the coaching staff must go. And they did. Up next comes rebuilding the team. Everyone knows the best way to do that is through the draft, where every year a bevy of young college potential eagerly awaits their chance to show their skills to The League.

A team that failed to win a single game in a season must be devoid of talent. To rectify that they need as many draft selections as possible. Thanks to some trades by the past and current regimes, the 2009 Lions draft consisted of 10 picks when round seven concluded on Sunday, April 26th.

- Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
1/20/20 - Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
2/1/33 - Louis Delmas, FS, Western Michigan

3/12/76 - DeAndre Levy, OLB, Wisconsin
3/18/82 - Derrick Williams, WR, Penn State
4/15/115 - Sammie Lee Hill, DT, Stillman
6/19/192 - Aaron Brown, RB, TCU
7/19/228 - Lydon Murtha, OT, Nebraska
7/26/235 - Zack Follett, OLB, California
7/46/255 - Dan Gronkowski, TE, Maryland

  • QB - Check!
  • LB - Check!
  • OL - Check!
  • DL - Check!
  • WR - Check!
The Lions did a good job of fulfilling their basic needs. However they have to be punished a tad for drafting only one offensive lineman. They should have added at least a guard and probably a center as well. The same can be said for the defensive side. Grabbing a big DT was nice but where's the DE? Did they really need two TEs and OLBs? Their LB weakness was MLB not OLB, where they acquired Julian Peterson and have Ernie Sims. If Levy (or Sims) can make the transition to MLB then this grade could go up.

GRADE: 85 out of 100

Pick 1 - While I would have gone with either Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe as Lions overlord, I can't fault the organization for hoping to find their QB of the future. It's a risky pick, as it always is with QBs, but a good selection nonetheless. Grade: 9

Pick 2 - Pettigrew was, to almost every team and scout, the best TE available. And it was a position that needed an upgrade. But they could have grabbed one of the OTs that people though could play LT. Michael Oher instead was selected by the Ravens at 23. Because the team still got a player that should start from Day 1 at a position that had questions they can't be punished too much. They just better hope Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus can make it another year as the tackle bookends. Grade: 8

Pick 3 - I like Delmas. I like him a lot. But I would not have taken him at 33. Look at some of these other names the Lions passed on: ILBs James Laurinaitis and Rey Maualuga, OTs Eben Britton and William Beatty, DE Everette Brown, and OC Max Unger. Any of those players would have been a better pick in my opinion. Grade: 6

Pick 4 - This is a terrible pick, especially if they have no expectations of him playing MLB. Levy was seen as a mid-round pick at best and the Lions pulled the trigger in round three. He could be a great special teams player but he won't make an impact immediately, something Detroit needs. At pick 76 overall the Lions could have grabbed a number of OL or secondary upgrades. Bad pick. Grade: 3

Pick 5 - We are! Penn State! I'll try my best to be objective here. The Lions, for once, did not take a WR in the first round. However they did need someone new after trading Roy E. Williams to Dallas last season and letting Shaun McDonald and Mike Furrey go. Derrick Williams was, arguably, the best WR remaining and is someone who can make an immediate impact in the return game or should the Lions try the "wildcat". With that said, I have to question the pick a bit. Sure they lost three WRs in less than a year but they have Calvin Johnson, a budding superstar, plus they signed Bryant Johnson, Ronald Curry, and Will Franklin. They definitely had enough depth to get through the year and I feel this pick could have been used on a defensive lineman. Good value, but more of a luxury. Grade: 6

Pick 6 - Even though Hill is raw and didn't grade out well with the "experts" (Scouts, Inc. has Hill as a 59 overall), I like the pick. I was hoping Miami could grab him in the 5th round to be tutored as an NT. Anyway, the Lions needed a new DT after trading Cory Redding to Seattle in the Julian Peterson deal. Hill will get a chance to build strength and learn the system behind Chuck Darby and Grady Jackson, two seasoned veterans, and will work into the rotation with Andre Fluellen, another young DT. Even though a few DBs and DEs were available at this juncture, I like the Hill pick. Grade: 7

Pick 7 - I'm not as big a fan of this pick as the one before it. Brown seemed like a reach, especially with Clemson's James Davis and Liberty's Rashad Jennings still on the board. I'm not sure this was really a need position either. They have Kevin Smith as their starter and guys who can spell him in Maurice Morris, Brian Calhoun, and Aveion Cason. Brown seems like overkill. Grade: 4

Pick 8 - Finally, a tackle! After many thought they'd go OT #1 overall, and they were thinking about it, they don't take one until the 228th selection. Murtha was believed to be a target in the mid rounds but fell to the 7th for whatever reason. This is a nice value pick at a position of need. If they're patient he could develop into an above average starter at RT in two or three years. Grade: 7

Pick 9 - Another OLB? Odd. The pick of Levy was worse than this but taking Follett isn't much better. Fortunately for the Lions Follett's value here is much better than Levy's in the third round. A developmental guy that could challenge Levy to take over for Peterson in two or three years. The better pick would have been LSU DT Ricky Jean-Francois however, even after taking Hill. Grade: 5

Pick 10 - Gronkowski was the second TE taken by the Lions in the '09 draft and the second-to-last player taken in the entire event (Mr. Penultimate, if you will). This late in the draft it's really hard to argue against picks because the value is very subjective and teams are just going with developmental players or those who may have slid. Grade: 5

GRADE: 60/100

The Lions successfully filled all of their general needs though they didn't add a DE or MLB or any o-lineman until the 7th round. They had a few good picks (Stafford, Pettigrew, Hill, Murtha) and some bad ones (Levy, Brown). What do I think about the Lions 2009 draft after examining what they filled and with what talent?


WHY: They may have gotten a superstar QB and added a player that can help in both the running and passing games in Pettigrew. They have a developmental player at OT and DT, both of which were solid picks. Williams is an impact player, much like fellow Penn State alum Eddie Drummond, though Williams is a much better WR.

NOTE: My "final grade" is weighted and is not a simple combination of "needs" and "talent".

Best Pick: Stafford
Worst Pick: Levy
Sleeper: Murtha
Instant Impact: Pettigrew
Developmental: Hill


CBS Sports (Prisco): A
CBS Sports (Rang): B
ESPN (Kiper): B- (Brooks): C+ (Fan's): B
Walter: C-



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