Draft Grader: Detroit Lions

The Lions used the 2008 through 2010 drafts to add some big names to their roster, but where do they stack up when you apply the PFF treatment to them.

| 4 years ago

Draft Grader: Detroit Lions

In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been going back over the 2008, 2009, and 2010 draft class of each franchise and assigning each pick a grade. Up next? Well, that’s the Detroit Lions.

Each pick between the 2008 and 2010 draft classes has been assigned a grade between +2.0 and -2.0 (in 0.5 increments) that depends upon:

• Where they were drafted
• Their performance
• Their contribution (how many snaps their team got out of them)
• Other factors, such as unforeseen injuries and conditions that could not have been accounted for

Let’s take a look at how Detroit drafted.

+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round

Nope, but then they had the first overall pick in 2009, so they didn’t really need to.


+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!

Not here…


+1.0: The scouts nailed it!

Cliff Avril, DE (92nd overall pick in 2008): When Detroit look back on the last draft class of Matt Millen, they can at least thank him for landing Cliff Avril. Not coming off his best year by any stretch, which made it easier for the Lions to let him hit the open market, but a talented pass rusher nonetheless.

Ndamukong Suh, DT (2nd overall pick in 2010): Overhyped as a rookie and over criticized since, Suh has at the very least delivered on what was expected out of him. Really stepped up his game in the second half of 2012 to finish fourth overall in our ratings. Few can get upfield like him.


+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor

Gosder Cherilus, T (17th overall pick in 2008): Has got better year on year with the Lions, culminating with his best performance to date in 2012. As right tackles go he held up in pass protection, but didn’t get the kind of push in the run game you might have expected.

Kevin Smith, RB (64th overall pick in 2008): The first pick of the 2008 third round, Smith has always produced when the Lions got him on the field. Not the feature back many had hoped for, but solid nonetheless.

Matthew Stafford, QB (1st overall pick in 2009): A big one this. However, when you draft a guy with the first overall pick you want him to lead your team to some glory days. Stafford has teased doing as much and is a favorite of fantasy football players everywhere. Now he’s certainly helped the team improve, but more is expected and this is only a marginally positive grade for a player who needs to do more.

Sammie Lee Hill, DT (115th overall pick in 2009): After a rookie year that showed Hill as not quite NFL-ready, he has since elevated his game. A big part of the Lions’ tackle rotation, he earned a +11.8 grade for his play the past two years, earning himself a chance at a starting spot in Tennessee.

Dan Gronkowski, TE (255th overall pick in 2009): Spent time on the practice squad and then played 17 snaps on offense before eventually being traded for former second-round pick Alphonso Smith. Lions were able to turn him into something.

Willie Young, DE (213th overall pick in 2010): Is there more to come from Young? In limited snaps in 2011 he was a stud in accumulating a +11.7 grade. But a year later, and with more opportunities handed to him, that turned into a -6.4 grade. They’ve already got more out of him considering what you’d expect from a seventh-rounder, but is there more to come?


0.0: It could have been worse

Jerome Felton, FB (146th overall pick in 2008): Developed into an adequate lead blocker in an offense that doesn’t really champion that position.

Landon Cohen, DT (216th overall pick in 2008): Played considerably in the first year of Jim Schwartz, but wasn’t up to the standard he wanted and was gone after playing 431 snaps for the team.

Caleb Campbell, S (218th overall pick in 2008): After being drafted in 2008, wasn’t able to sign with the team for another two years after he had to complete his duty with the army. Bounced between practice squad and active roster where he ended up making two special teams tackles in 2010.

Louis Delmas, S (33rd overall pick in 2009): Misses his fair amount of tackles and has struggled staying on the field the past two years. A good player who the Lions need to see more of.

DeAndre Levy, LB (76th overall pick in 2009): While Levy has at times looked like a productive player, his play can be best described as streaky. He’s asked to do a lot behind an aggressive defensive front and at times just doesn’t look up to it.

Aaron Brown, RB (192nd overall pick in 2009): A weapon the Lions tried to make use out of, but ultimately have only got on the field for 195 snaps.

Lydon Murtha, T (228th overall pick in 2009): Murtha was taken off the Lions’ practice squad by a Dolphins team that still have him on their roster.

Zack Follet, LB (235th overall pick in 2009): Looked like a player who would excel as a career special teamer before a serious neck injury ended his run.

Jahvid Best, RB (30th overall pick in 2010): The Lions knew there was a risk with his concussion history and so it has proved. Best has at times delivered the goods on the field but looks set to retire early with no doctor clearing him to return to the sport he loves.

Jason Fox, T (128th overall pick in 2010): The former fourth-round pick has just 26 career snaps to his name, emphasizing how hard he has found it to stay healthy since entering the league. Make-or-break year coming up for him.

Tim Toone, WR (255th overall pick in 2010): Spent time on the Lions’ practice squad without ever cracking the game-day roster.


-0.5: That pick was not put to good use

Jordan Dizon, LB (45th overall pick in 2008): Made just 280 snaps in two years, with both his first two years ending on injured reserve after he failed to make much of an impression. A final injury a year later ended his Lions career.

Andre Fluellen, DT (87th overall pick in 2008): Is he a defensive end or is he a defensive tackle? His ability to play two spots is about the only thing going for Fluellen who has been something of a disappointment as a third-round pick. His -16.3 grade over five years is indicative of the Lions being better when he’s not on the field.

Kenneth Moore, WR (136th overall pick in 2008): The former fifth-rounder was cut quickly enough that he spent most of his rookie year on the practice squad for Carolina.

Brandon Pettigrew, TE (20th overall pick in 2009): He was meant to be an every down tight end who would contribute immediately. Instead he’s struggled with drops, been flagged for way too many penalties and had problems with his in-line blocking. At times a difference maker but all too often for the wrong reasons.

Amari Spievey, S (66th overall pick in 2010): Big things were expected out of Spievey but despite opportunities being handed to him the Lions just haven’t been comfortable with him. It’s easy to see why after a poor 2011, but there were signs that maybe he was moving in the right direction in 2012.


-1.0: What a waste!

Derrick Williams, WR (82nd overall pick in 2009): The Lions appeared to have used up all their wide receiver luck on drafting Calvin Johnson. Williams was a major disappointment, earning a quite remarkable -10.7 grade on just 361 snaps in two years with the team. Caught just nine balls for the Lions.


-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!

Not here.


-2.0: You just drafted the love child of Jamarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!

No Russell/ Leaf hybrids in this draft.
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  • Richard

    “Murtha was taken off the Lions’ practice squad by a Dolphins team that still have him on their roster.”

    • Richard

      He was cut by the Dolphins before the 2012 season.

  • http://twitter.com/Ben24626 Ben Fitzgerald

    How many years has Cherilus actually graded well with you guys? Because they only had him for his rookie contract and if he only performed well for one year of that, that is hardly above average value for a 1st round pick. Even two years doesn’t seem worthy of a +0.5.