Draft Grader: Detroit Lions
Khaled Elsayed looks at how the underachieving Lions became that way, with top picks and mid rounders failing to live up to expectation.
Draft Grader: Detroit Lions
Draft season is upon us as free agency quiets down and prospect watch goes into overdrive. But the reality for us is that we’re not that involved in the College side of things, but that doesn’t mean we’re not fans of the draft.
For me though that means reflecting back on drafts gone by to tell you which teams made the best picks and which ones the worst. So as I do every year I’m grading every draft pick from 2009 through to 2011 on the PFF rating scale (-2 to +2), factoring in where they were drafted, injuries and a host of other things.
We’re moving in draft order so it’s the Detroit Lions up next.
+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round
+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!
Move along now …
+1.0: The scouts nailed it!
Ndamukong Suh, DT (2nd overall pick in 2010): One of the most hyped prospects in years, there was a time when we at PFF wondered if perhaps that hype (and some character questions) would swallow him up. But Suh has become a more rounded and destructive player, his 2013 season being his best (and good enough to see him ranked number two overall).
Willie Young, DE (214th overall pick in 2010): If you can find a solid role player in the seventh it’s a win. So if you can find a guy who can hold down a starting job and look good in the process, well then I like the pick very much. Young was our 16th-ranked 4-3 defensive end and amassed an impressive +13.6 grade in his 1,419 snaps as a Lion.
+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor
DeAndre Levy, LB (76th overall pick in 2009): Levy isn’t the best when blockers get their hands on him, but his work in coverage means this third-rounder has been worth the price. He’s gotten better in every year, culminating with a fine 2013 where his coverage grade was third highest of all 4-3 outside linebackers.
Sammie Lee Hill, DT (115th overall pick in 2009): Had a tough rookie year when too much was asked of him. A reduced role, however, really brought out the best of him and in the three following years he really delivered with a +20.7 grade.
Nick Fairley, DT (13th overall pick in 2011): Just a 0.5 and that’s somewhat frustrating because with his Albert Haynesworth-esque skill set you thought he could deliver more. His +32.2 grade in 1,478 is certainly impressive but he’s nowhere near consistent enough (except when it comes to drawing flags).
0.0: It could have been worse
Matthew Stafford, QB (1st overall pick in 2009): At times has looked worth so much more, but a slow start and some erratic performances leave you wanting more out of this former first overall pick. His career grade of +4.9 only begins to tell the story.
Louis Delmas, S (33rd overall pick in 2009): Another who has, at times, impressed but struggles with injury and consistency have hampered his production. About what you’d expect out of an early second-round pick, though his upside would suggest the team should have got more out of him.
Aaron Brown, RB (192nd overall pick in 2009): This sixth-rounder would hang around long enough to play 197 underwhelming snaps. To expect anything else would be extremely optimistic.
Lydon Murtha, OT (228th overall pick in 2009): Stolen away from the practice squad in his rookie year by the Miami Dolphins.
Zack Follet, LB (235th overall pick in 2009): Injuries saw him retire early, but not before he’d featured for 172 snaps and made 12 special teams tackles.
Dan Gronkowski, TE (255th overall pick in 2009): Best known as part of a trade that saw him swap places with former second round pick Alphonso Smith.
Jason Fox, OT (129th overall pick in 2010): Hung around for a while and even managed 231 snaps. But he’s proved little more than depth and is closer to a negative than a positive.
Tim Toone, WR (256th overall pick in 2010): Would fail to get on the field missing most of his first year on injured reserve after ending up on the practice squad. Cut the following year.
Doug Hogue, LB (157th overall pick in 2011): Wasn’t the answer at linebacker, managing just 13 snaps on defense. Waived midway through the 2012 season with nine special teams tackles to his name.
Johnny Culbreath, OT (209th overall pick in 2011): Spent year one on injured reserve but a run in with the law was all the team needed to severe ties.
-0.5: That pick was not put to good use
Derrick Williams, WR (82nd overall pick in 2009): It took the Lions just 317 snaps and a -10.8 rating for the team to move on.
Amari Spievey, DB (66th overall pick in 2010): Had his chance to start at safety in 2011. It did not go well, ending with a -8.4 grade and losing his starting job the following year. That was it in regards to his Lions career.
-1.0: What a waste!
Brandon Pettigrew, TE (20th overall pick in 2009): Was seen as a sure thing prospect-wise and something of a get when the team landed him with the 20th overall pick. But this tight end, who admittedly is asked to do a lot more than most, has struggled with his blocking, with his catching and with penalties. At times he looks the part but all too frequently he’s failed in this regard. A slightly below average tight end is a bad use of a first-round pick.
Jahvid Best, HB (30th overall pick in 2010): Concussion issues ended his career, but even before that his lack of playmaking had seen him turn 878 snaps into a -11.5 grade.
Titus Young, WR (44th overall pick in 2011): What can you say about Titus Young? There are issues with him that few in the game will really understand, but even when he was on the field it was hardly eye catching. There he earned a -14.6 grade.
Mikel Leshoure, HB (57th overall pick in 2011): Drafted to be a feature back, he’s so far managed just 540 snaps. He hasn’t looked bad in action but that really isn’t anywhere near enough when you’re looking at a second-round pick.
-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!
Nothing to report …
-2.0: You just drafted the love child of JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!
Nor here …
Here are links to the teams that have been through the Draft Grader to date:
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled