After reviewing the Chicago Bears’ draft history in the last article, let’s move further into the NFC North to review the Detroit Lions. Have they had successful drafts in the past five years? Are they an organization we can trust to rebuild through the draft?
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson isn’t walking through the door. Quarterback Matthew Stafford is getting older. The Detroit Lions are on the clock.
Round 1: No. 23 Riley Reiff (OT), Iowa
Round 2: No. 54 Ryan Broyles (WR), Oklahoma
Round 3: No. 85 Dwight Bentley (CB), Louisiana-Lafayette
Round 4: No. 125 Ronnell Lewis (DE), Oklahoma
Round 5: No. 138 Tahir Whitehead (LB), Temple
Round 5: No. 148 Chris Greenwood (CB), Albion
Round 6: No. 196 Jonte Green (CB), New Mexico State
Round 7: No. 223 Travis Lewis (LB), Oklahoma
Tahir Whitehead has been a decent selection for the Lions by falling just shy of 100 tackles last season. His struggles show he’s not a starting middle linebacker, but Whitehead will have a chance to show his talents as the weak-side linebacker this year — a position change that may help him perform at a higher level. Riley Reiff didn’t develop into the anchor of Detroit’s offensive line, but he’s a quality tackle who still has a lot of football left. He’ll serve as a starting tackle for the Minnesota Vikings in this upcoming season. The 2012 draft was a bust for the Lions.
Round 1: No. 5 Ezekiel Ansah (DE), Brigham Young
Round 2: No. 36 Darius Slay (CB), Mississippi State
Round 3: No. 65 Larry Warford (G), Kentucky
Round 4: No. 132 Devin Taylor (DE), South Carolina
Round 5: No. 165 Sam Martin (P), Appalachian State
Round 6: No. 171 Corey Fuller (WR), Virginia Tech
Round 6: No. 199 Theo Riddick (RB), Notre Dame
Round 7: No. 211 Michael Williams (TE), Alabama
Round 7: No. 245 Brandon Hepburn (ILB), Florida A&M
Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah is an excellent pass rusher, and Darius Slay is arguably a top 10 cornerback in the NFL. After some inconsistent seasons for Larry Warford, he had a strong performance last year, showing he’s a very reliable guard. His high quality of play earned him a big payday from the New Orleans Saints. Theo Riddick is a decent scat-back who offers change of pace and versatility for an offense. The Detroit Lions hit a home run in the 2013 draft with the talent they acquired and developed.
Round 1: No. 10 Eric Ebron (TE), North Carolina
Round 2: No. 40 Kyle Van Noy (OLB), Brigham Young
Round 3: No. 76 Travis Swanson (C), Arkansas
Round 4: No. 133 Nevin Lawson (CB), Utah State
Round 4: No. 136 Larry Webster (DE), Bloomsburg
Round 5: No. 158 Caraun Reed (DT), Princeton
Round 6: No. 189 T.J. Jones (WR), Notre Dame
Round 7: No. 229 Nate Freese (K), Boston College
Nevin Lawson battled highs and lows last year, but he has potential to be an adequate starting cornerback. Travis Swanson returns as the starting center after suffering a brutal concussion. Eric Ebron had a slow start to his career, but showed signs of a break through last season after totaling 61 receptions and 711 yards. But, selecting Ebron at 10th overall was a huge mistake. He’s still young (24), but he has a lot of room for improvement to warrant such a high first-round pick. A few starters is OK, but Detroit missed on a lot of opportunities in this draft. For everything the Lions got right in 2013’s draft, they got wrong in 2014’s.
Round 1: No. 28 Laken Tomlinson (G), Duke
Round 2: No. 54 Ameer Abdullah (RB), Nebraska
Round 3: No. 80 Alex Carter (CB), Stanford
Round 4: No. 113 Gabe Wright (DT), Auburn
Round 5: No. 168 Michael Burton (FB), Rutgers
Round 6: No. 200 Quandre Diggs (CB), Texas
Round 7: No. 240 Corey Robinson (OT), South Carolina
The Lions chose recognizable draft prospects in 2015, but had none pan out the way they would’ve hoped for. Robinson and Diggs are rotational players, but it remains to be seen if they’ll crack the starting lineup. Ameer Abdullah had a terrific career for the University of Nebraska, but the jury’s out on if he’ll become a franchise running back for Detroit. Laken Tomlinson has struggled mightily at guard, and was demoted to a backup role in 2016. It’s rumored that he’ll be in danger of getting cut from the roster. Another brutal draft class for Detroit.
Round 1: No. 16 Taylor Decker (OT), Ohio State
Round 2: No. 46 A’Shawn Robinson (DT), Alabama
Round 3: No. 95 Graham Glasglow (G), Michigan
Round 4: No. 111 Miles Killebrew (S), Southern Utah
Round 5: No. 151 Joe Dahl (G), Washington State
Round 5: No. 169 Antwione Williams (LB), Georgia Southern
Round 6: No. 191 Jake Rudock (QB), Michigan
Round 6: No. 202 Anthony Zettel (DT), Penn State
Round 6: No. 210 Jimmy Landes (LS), Baylor
Round 7: No. 236 Dwayne Washington (RB), Washington
Most of the players from this draft have ceilings as rotational players. Guard Graham Glasglow has a chance to be a starter based off the potential he’s shown in games last season. Defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson was a highly coveted prospect coming out of college, and has proven worthy of the starting three-technique role for the defensive line. Taylor Decker is coming off of a major shoulder surgery, but the offensive tackle is expected to be the long-term starter. It’s too early to tell if Robinson and Decker will reach their potential, but there’s belief in the organization that both players can be key pieces to Detroit’s future success.