The blog has kind of been put off to the side for the moment, getting ready to move out of our house and then move to Colorado is not as easy or as fun as it may sound. I had meant to do this a while ago, but here it is now.
Riley Reiff, Left Tackle, Iowa- This was an absolutely massive pickup. It gets some youth infused into the offensive line, and more importantly it was an a steal. Reiff was thought to go in the Top 15, but having him fall to the Lions was important. Instead of having to reach on an offensive lineman, which they probably wouldn’t have done since General Manager Martin Mayhew goes with a strict best player available policy, they were about to get the second best tackle in the draft and were not forced to take a player at a different position. With the three best corners in the draft gone, and unable to afford the luxury of taking Janoris Jenkins, they were able to address a need and still get a great player. Hopefully the offensive line will look like this next year, LT Backus, LG Rob Sims, C Dominic Raiola RG Gosder Cherilus RT Reiff. Reiff has the ability to play both sides of the line and I think Cherilus will be more suited playing at guard.
Ryan Broyles, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma- Broyles is the NCAA leader in career receptions, and he will be groomed to eventually replace Nate Burleson in the slot. I was not a fan of this pick at first, I wanted Dwight Bentley or Trumaine Johnson, both were corners available at the time of the selection. BUT, Mayhew obviously knows far more about the draft than I do, since he was able to get Bentley in the third round. While Broyles is coming off of a torn ACL, if he comes back and plays at the level he did at Oklahoma, it will be like getting another 1st round receiver in the 2nd round. An absolutely stellar selection, given the way the rest of the Lions draft panned out.
Dwight Bentley, Cornerback, Louisiana-Lafayette-Bentley is a great value selection in the third round. At the combine, he ran a 4.39 forty, so he possesses the ability to stay with faster receivers, and at 5’10” with a 31 inch vertical he has some great leaping ability. He will have to adjust to the better competition playing at a lower level Division I school, but he performed very well in the Senior Bowl. Not to mention, when Louisiana-Lafayette played Oklahoma State, he was covering Justin Blackmon and picked off Brandon Weeden twice…both first round picks. He could be a bit of a project but he has serious potential.
Ronnell Lewis, Linebacker, Oklahoma-Lewis is the second player selected by the Lions from Oklahoma and interestingly enough he would not be the last. There is talk that the Lions will end up using Lewis in the defensive line rotation, probably at rush end, and at 6’2″ 254 with 4.66 speed, he should do just fine. He’s not the best at covering players, which is probably why the Lions will use Lewis at defensive end, and if he can produce at a more consistent rate, he could have an impact early on.
Tahir Whitehead, Linebacker, Temple-Whitehead is a bit of an interesting choice here, the Lions traded their 4th round pick for next year in order to move into the early 5th round and pick him, so they clearly like him. I personally do not know much about him, but my guess is he will be used in the depth rotation at outside linebacker. Like Lewis, he is more of a speed rusher, than he is a cover linebacker and will probably used in different blitz packages.
Chris Greenwood, Cornerback, Albion-A local Division III prospect that has rare size and speed. I am very curious as to what deficiencies he had coming out of high school, because corners that are nearly 6’2″ that run a 4.4 forty do not grow on trees and are typically high draft picks. It will be interesting to see how he can adjust to the higher level of playing ability that he will face in the pros, but he very well could end up like Brandon Carr, an underrated cornerback that the Kansas City Chiefs took in the draft a few years back and hit it big in free agency this offseason with the Dallas Cowboys.
Jonte Green, Cornerback, New Mexico State-Green is a good cover corner considering the level of talent that he played against and the round he was drafted in, but he needs to get more consistent if he wants to make the Lions roster. Late picks like this are usually just picks where a team takes a flyer on a guy they like and just hope that he can make their roster. I would really not expect much out of him except for some contributions on special teams.
Travis Lewis, Linebacker, Oklahoma-The final Oklahoma player taken by the Lions, and I’m starting to wonder if the Sooners will now be the Lions new minor league squad. Lewis came into college hyped up and was thought to be an early round pick early in his career, but injuries and lack of production really killed his stock. He has proven that he has the ability, but he needs to find a way to improve and tap into the potential that people thought that he had as a Freshman and Sophomore. Like Green, he will mostly be a special teams contributor until he proves he can play.
Draft Grade: B. It’s tough for the Lions to get a higher grade, taking Broyles is a bit of a risk, but if he pans out, this draft’s grade immediately goes up. They did a great job covering need positions and trying to add depth. The Draft was especially important for the Lions because they are so close to the cap (they still have to sign Cliff Avril to a long-term deal) and were unable to make any moves in free agency.