S Louis Delmas (Western Michigan) - Round 2, Pick No. 33
Of all the Lions' picks on the first day of the draft, this was really the biggest head-scratcher. While it was no surprise that the Lions drafted someone that was ranked as the top safety in the draft, no one was expecting a safety to be drafted with one of the Lions' top three picks. Although Jim Schwartz made it clear that talent would be drafted over need, I don't think many of us expected him to mean it so literally. Just as with the 20th pick, most of us were hoping that a left tackle or middle linebacker (Rey Maualuga was still available) would be the pick. Instead, however, we were treated to Louis Delmas, a safety from Western Michigan.
Best traits per Scouts Inc.:
Great recognition skills. Will diagnose plays faster than most young safeties. Not afraid to take on bigger blockers and ball carriers. Feisty and aggressive. Plays much bigger than measurables indicate. A natural playmaker in run support and in coverage. Great example of instincts and toughness is on 1st-and-10 play with 13:37 remaining in first quarter of 2008 Nebraska game, when he diagnoses the play quicker than any other defender and looks like he's shot out of a cannon as he flies upfield to make the tackle.
No off-the-field issues. A natural leader. Named team captain as a senior. Plays the game with passion and displays an excellent work ethic.
POSITIVES: Active and aggressive safety flying up draft boards. Quickly picks up assignments in coverage, effectively diagnoses the action and gets to plays with a closing burst of speed. Displays good sideline-to-sideline range, plays with a good degree of suddenness, and flies around the ball. Quick up the field in run defense, and sacrifices his body to make the tackle. Solid ball skills and good hands for the interception.
NEGATIVES: Lacks classic safety size. Too aggressive at times, and takes himself from the action. Inefficient and does not always take correct angles to plays.
Final word: Very similar to Tyrell Johnson, who was drafted in the second round of the 2007 draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Delmas was successful in pass coverage as a senior, even though those surrounding him struggled. Notched 111 tackles as a senior. Finished his career with 18 pass breakups and 12 interceptions. A four-year starter, three-time all-conference safety and two-time team captain, Delmas has all the intangibles.
Highlights against Rice (2008):
Outlook for 2009
Similar to the Brandon Pettigrew selection, I am warming up to this pick quite a bit. I think Delmas will compete for a starting job at the very least, and I have to imagine he will become the starter eventually if he can stay healthy. Safeties like Gerald Alexander and Daniel Bullocks are no strangers to injuries, so if Delmas can't simply beat out the players in front of him, the injury bug may take care of that problem for him. One way or another, though, Delmas will see the field quite a bit in 2009.