Now that we've all had a few hours to digest the rollercoaster ride that was the 2009 draft, I'd like to offer up my perspective on the Lion's draft. Like most of you, I thought many of these picks were pretty shocking and strangely scattered. Each felt like a massive build-up and then ended with a collective "huh?" Looking back, I think that one of the problems that contributed to most of us feeling this way is that we talked these picks to death. We all had each other convinced on exactly what the Lions needed and which players would fit. Problem is, they were all based on just that... need.
Instead, the Lions did something very uncharacteristic and ultimately frustrating - as displayed by our reactions to the picks... they stuck to their board and took best player available. Imagine that? Millen's biggest flaw was that he simply did not stick to his scout's board and went with flash over substance. True, some of the Lion's picks were a little flashy, but they were still who Mayhew had as best player available. That's at the very least, commendable.
My second observation is on the players we passed up. Some of these players appeared to us to be the perfect mix of need and value and we were left dumbfounded at why the Lions could allow such players to slide past - some more than once. Players like Maualuga, Oher, Robinson and many others that have been our mock favorites and seemed to be perfect need solutions, appeared to be completely off the Lion's radar. But then I think we all started to notice these players sliding past many other teams as well. In the end, this tells me that they were simply not as good as advertised.
This is a direct result of us mocking ourselves to death. Some might remember a post I wrote a few months ago talking about how analysts like Kiper and sites like Scouts Inc. can really skew the fans knowledge of the draft. What can happen is these "experts" build unneeded hype around certain players that don't deserve it, while at the same time cause fans to be disappointed in their team's picks by not grading those players high enough. NFL teams don't tip their hand and rarely do their boards change significantly in the last few days. That is simply the analysts catching up some to the "real" draft boards. Do you really think that Sanchez was not rated as a top 10 pick before yesterday? Do you really think he just shot up the board in the last few days? Of course not. Many of these draft publications are simply wrong. That's why we were all jacked up about Maualuga while the NFL teams allowed him to slide to pick 38.
All that said, it's still tough to see the Lions pass on need positions. My take on it is this... the Lion's roster is absolutely pathetic. They are nowhere near truly competing and they have needs at every position aside from the #1 wide receiver position. This is a multi-year project and the Lions simply need good players everywhere. So while I don't agree with every pick, I understand Mayhew's approach.
It's tough for us to be patient. It's tough to know that we have to endure another losing season. But we've pleaded with the front office to build this team the right way this time. Well, they really truly stuck to their board this time. I guess we asked for it a little. I say this... once again, they get the benefit of the doubt from me. But if next year, we are looking at Hill or Levy like we are looking at Dizon from last year... heads better roll in the scouting department, pure and simple. I've done some research on all of our picks since the draft concluded and I've got to say that I feel a lot better. Hopefully by Mayhew sticking to his guns and not being afraid of the criticism of these picks, he's doing things the right way.
Let me know what you think. Oh... sorry for being so long winded here.