Like many teams, the Lions made multiple trades on day two of the 2009 NFL Draft to stock up on picks. The first trade was actually what started day two of the draft. The Lions exchanged third-round picks with the Jets and received a fourth-rounder and a seventh-rounder for making the swap. The Lions felt that they didn't need to pick at the top of the third-round, so it was a great move to trade down. The more picks you can get the better. The same goes for the move made in the sixth-round. The Lions traded their sixth-rounder to the Broncos for a seventh-rounder this year and a fifth-rounder in 2010. This type of strategy is one the Patriots have mastered, so I'm all for the Lions doing it. I think both trades were great moves.
Round 3 - Pick No. 76 - LB DeAndre Levy (Wisconsin)
The Lions' first pick of day two was more than a tad puzzling at first. Levy played outside linebacker at Wisconsin, and most of us were wondering why the Lions would pick an OLB when they had such a gaping hole on the inside. The explanation for that, as we now know, is that Levy is going to play middle linebacker for the Lions, at least initially. He will try out the MLB position at next weekend's rookie minicamp, which makes me understand this pick much more.
I'm still not a huge fan of this pick, though, as it seems like Levy was drafted on his potential to play MLB more than anything. While many draft picks are made based on potential at another position, I guess I just don't have a ton of confidence that a player can effectively play MLB in the NFL after not playing it in college. Some will probably ask why I wanted Aaron Curry, as he would have been switched to MLB. My response to that question is that Curry actually played some MLB in college. Levy, at least based on my initial research, didn't actually play that position very much at Wisconsin.
Even though I'm going to take a wait and see approach with regards to this pick based on trusting Jim Schwartz and company, if I had to give it a grade it would only be a D+. Although Levy will play MLB for the Lions at the rookie camp, I just don't think he will be as effective -- at least not in year one -- as some of the true MLBs in the draft. Then again, most of the true MLBs fans wanted dropped big time, so hopefully the coaches and front office know something we don't. I hope that is the case, but for right now, anyways, my grade for the Levy pick is only a D+.
Round 3 - Pick No. 82 - WR Derrick Williams (Penn State)
The initial reaction to this pick was disgust, just because it was a wide receiver. With actual positions of need out there, why did the Lions decide to draft a WR so early on? Well, think of it more like they drafted a returner who can play receiver as well, because that is the type of player Williams is. He isn't a great receiver, but his return abilities make him very appealing, as does his athleticism. He is someone that could run the Wildcat for the Lions, as he did that many times at Penn State. The best description I can give you is that he is a more talented Kenneth Moore, the Wake Forest receiver drafted by the Lions on day two a year ago for his return abilities. Moore didn't make the team but ended up signing with the Panthers, so the hope obviously is that Williams will be good enough at WR to make the team and the active roster on game days. That way the Lions would actually have a decent returner for a change.
While I understand the thinking behind this pick, I am not a huge fan of it. It is very important for the Lions to upgrade their return game next season, but Williams will only help with that matter if he makes the team and then the active roster for games. I'm not so sure that he will be able to do that, especially if the Lions only keep four receivers active for games. Considering the Lions are going to incorporate the tight end position more, it may not be necessary to have more than four receivers on the active roster. That's why I'm a bit skeptical that Williams' return abilities will even be utilized. Given that, I don't think it was worth spending a third-round pick on him.
Round 4 - Pick No. 115 - DT Sammie Lee Hill (Stillman)
This is my favorite pick of day two and maybe of the entire draft for the Lions. Sammie Lee Hill has amazing athleticism for being so big, and it seems like he could be a hidden gem. At the very least, he appears to be a great value pick, and beyond that, he actually fills a need. Defensive tackle was a position that needed to be addressed in the draft, so it's good to see that it actually was.
As stated, this was a great value pick and addressed need at the same time. It doesn't get much better than that on day two of the draft.
Round 6 - Pick No. 192 - RB Aaron Brown (TCU)
This was probably one of the most confusing picks of the day. Running back isn't exactly a position of need for the Lions, and Brown has lots of question marks surrounding him. For example, he had some injury problems in college and was suspended for the first three games of 2008 for violating a university policy. The upside for Brown is that he is also a returner, but as stated in my analysis of the Williams pick, that only means something if a player can make the active roster.
By the time the sixth-round in the draft rolls around, most picks are risks, but this one just seemed unnecessary. The Lions already have a couple players similar to Brown on the roster -- Aveion Cason and Brian Calhoun. Both Cason and Calhoun are nothing more than depth at the running back position, but their upside is that they can return kicks. Calhoun can't ever stay healthy and probably won't be a Lion for too much longer, but Cason is serviceable in my mind. If anything, Brown is a poor man's Cason.
Round 7 - Pick No. 228 - OT Lydon Murtha (Nebraska)
The Lions finally decided to pay attention to the offensive line in the seventh-round of the draft. The OT they picked, Lydon Murtha, has great size and athleticism. Like many players with that kind of makeup, his size and athleticism haven't translated too well to the football field. Even so, in the seventh-round there is no point not to pick someone like this. He has great potential, and better yet, he plays a position that is a need for the Lions.
Murtha certainly has all the potential in the world, but whether or not he will ever reach his potential is left to be seen. Regardless, the Lions only used a seventh-round pick on him, so it's not like the risk involved is that big.
Round 7 - Pick No. 235 - LB Zack Follett (California)
Zack Follett is an interesting character, to say the least. I'll expand on that in his scouting report, but it is obvious that he has a colorful personality. He also appears to have a mean streak on the football field, which is pretty important for a linebacker. Follett is listed as an outside linebacker, but he did play MLB in college. I actually like his potential in the middle more than Levy, the Lions' first third-round pick. Follett has a ton of potential, and it seems like he has a better chance of actually living up to it than others.
The more I read about Follett and the more video I watch, the more I like this pick. Follett can play both OLB and MLB, and he also will contribute on special teams. He's got the perfect mindset for a linebacker, and he seems like someone that could be viewed as a steal a few years from now.
Round 7 - Pick No. 255 - TE Dan Gronkowski (Maryland)
Teams that have one of the last picks of the draft have to figure out which player is going to be the toughest to sign as an undrafted free agent. That way they can simply draft him and not have to worry about competing with other teams to make a signing. For the Lions, they felt that player was TE Dan Gronkowski. This pick makes two things evident as we look ahead to next season: the Lions are going to utilize the tight end position more and the coaches aren't content with the TEs already on the roster. The latter point was obvious after Brandon Pettigrew was picked on Saturday, but this pick further echoed that notion.
It's tough to even give out a grade for a pick this late in the draft, but I decided on a D based on the fact that the Lions already drafted Brandon Pettigrew. I would have preferred to see depth added to the offensive or defensive line. Even so, I wouldn't put a whole lot of stock in any grade for the second-to-last pick of the draft. Like I said, at this point it is all about who will be the toughest to sign as an undrafted free agent, so I'm hoping the Lions knew that Gronkowski was going to end up somewhere else if he wasn't drafted.
While there were a couple picks I really liked from the second day of the draft, there was still a lot of room for improvement, in my opinion. It really was hit or miss on Sunday, as it seems like fans either loved or hated the picks. There was more of a middle ground with the day one picks. Then again, I guess that should be expected to happen more with lesser-known players. People usually are going to flat out hate the pick or like it based on what they first read about the player. That is why draft grades are so tough to give out for second day picks. In a few years when you look back at draft grades, there's a good chance they will all be inaccurate. Even so, it's a good topic to discuss, so let's hear your grades for day two.