With all the talk about grading Schwartz and Mayhew I thought we should go back and look at the last two offseasons, warts and all. I analyzed all the draft picks and the bigger trades (I left off a lot of the smaller ones that didn’t have much impact) and graded each out. I also looked at who we could have grabbed in each spot because I love hindsight bias. Feel free to call me on anything I got wrong or if you disagree with an analysis.
1(1) M. Stafford (QB)
Stafford turned 23 in February while his shoulder turned 57. He has a great arm and his instincts are getting better, but he has had 4 major injuries and played only 13 games in 2 seasons; both ending with him on IR. He showed a tremendous improvement in his second season—improving his QB rating 30 points to 91.3—showing he can be a top 10 QB in the NFL… IF his arm doesn’t fall off first.
Who else could we have taken: Sanchez, Freeman. Sanchez is crap and held up with a stellar D and run game. Freeman is a monster and it’s a tossup between having him vs Staff.
Grade: B- (potential stops at kickoff)
1(20) B. Pettigrew (TE)
A lot of people wanted us to go offensive line here instead of TE. I think that a good TE is a new QBs best friend. He was starting to look good in his first year when he blew out his knee. He came on a little slow in his second season, but ended strong with 71 receptions (#3 in NFL) for 722 yards (#7) and 4 TDs (#15)… and that was while he shared time with Sheffler. I think he will be a great piece of the offense for years to come and will probably be a perennial top 10 TE in the league.
Who else could we have taken: Oooh. The next 3 off the board were A. Mack (OC), P. Harvin (WR) and M. Oher (OT)—2 probowlers, the OROY, and a movie star.
2(33) L. Delmas (S)
Delmas was the darling of the 2009 class. He had a fantastic year on a terrible defense ending the year with 94 tackles, a sack, a safety, and 2 INTS (one for 101 yard TD). His numbers dropped somewhat in 2010 due to a better cast of characters around him and a nagging groin injury. He should be a fixture at Safety for years and our version of Troy Polamalu.
Who could we have taken: P. Chung (S), J. Laurinaitis (LB), Alphonso Smith (CB). Chung has turned out to be a good player for NE and Laurinatis has also come on in STL, but neither had as good a start as Delmas. I find it funny that Smith was taken 4 spots later and we got him for our last pick in this draft.
3(76) D. Levy (LB)
Levy had a the first half of the 2009 season to learn behind Foote before injuries gave him the starting job. He played well enough to send Foote packing in 2010, however, injuries kept him out of the first 5 games. He was hampered by the groin injury even after his return, but still played well. I think he will be our MLB fixture for years and I can’t wait to see what he plays like if we get some quality LBs to play next to him.
Who else could we have taken: No one.
3(82) D. Williams (WR/KR)
Where to start. I think his first punt return in the 2010 preseason game against the Steelers sums up his career to date: steps back 5 yards and calls a fair catch on the 3. He may have speed, but since he has no brains he won’t play in the NFL much longer. Runs poor routes, flys into the wedge during returns, can’t make anyone miss, can’t beat Bryant Johnson out of the #3 WR position.
4(115) S. Hill (DT)
Sammie was thrown into the mix too early—starting 12 games his rookie season—and it showed. He ended the year with 26 tackles and no sacks. His second year he was used a situational player who came in on run plays and shined—30 tackles and 2.5 sacks on the year. He will just get better and better as he has some great role models on the defensive line.
Who else could we have taken: No one. I love this pick
6(192) A. Brown (RB/KR)
A little, quick RB meant to be our home run hitter. He is not. His first year was marred by not knowing the plays and poor ability to break the big run. After Best was drafted he knew his time was limited. He played in 3 games in 2010 and underwhelmed in all of them.
Who could we have taken: Not many good payers taken after him.
7(228) L. Murtha (OT)
Stolen off our practice squad by Miami before he played for us. He had an ankle injury in 2009 putting him on IR after a single game for Miami. He ended up playing in 10 games—starting 4—for Miami over the last 2 seasons.
Who could we have taken: Meh. 7th round
7(235) Z. Follett (LB)
Fan fave who was kicked from the team and made his way back as a special teams ace and eventually a starting LB. Ended the year on IR with a neck injury that might end his career.
Who could we have taken: No one
Grade: A for getting starts out of the 7th round.
7(255) D. Gronkowski (TE)
His biggest gain for the Lions was when he was traded for Alphonso Smith.
Who could we have taken: Ryan Succop, Mr. Irrelevant
Grade: A for getting us Smith
Overall Draft Grade: B – 4 starters in first 4 picks. 2 other good positional players.
C. Redding (DT) + 5th for J. Peterson (LB)
In retrospect, we could have used some defensive line help that first year and Peterson has been underwhelming.
7th in 2010 for K. Simpson (S)
Meh. He started some games for us. He made sure we had enough players at Safety.
Overall Trade Grade: C+
1(2) N. Suh (DT)
I don’t even have to write anything here.
Who could we have taken: Zeus himself would have lost DROY to Suh.
Grade: Is there anything higher than an A+
1(30) J. Best (RB)
Best is the home run hitter we wanted Brown to be. In his first 2 games he had a ridiculous 268 yards and 5 TDs in his first 2 games. Then he got turf toe in both feet and slowed considerably. He still ended the year with over 1000 yards from scrimmage. He was also limited by the lack of a power run game that could take some of the pressure off of him on short yardage plays. Watching Best try and pound it up the middle on a 3rd and 1 was not pretty. Next year I expect to see a much improved Best--hopefully next to a power back like Micheal Bush.
Who could we have taken: Dexter McCluster
3(66) A. Spievey (CB/S)
Spievey was a CB in college who got moved to S with the Lions even though we had a revolving door of mediocrity at CB last year. Early in the season he was burned by opposing teams and often was seen trailing the play or confused as to where he should be. By the end of the season he had his legs under him and did pretty well for the limited time he was on the field. I think he will be greatly improved next year and should start alongside Delmas.
Who could we have taken: Brandon Ghee was one of the next CBs off the board, but that was 30 picks later.
4(128) J.Fox (OT)
Was once rated as one of the best OTs in the draft class. He dropped due to knee injuries. He saw limited action for us later in the season, playing in 4 games. He should develop into a starter for us.
7(213) W. Young (DE)
A preseason great (13 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 FF) who did not see much playing time behind a log jam of great defensive line players in the regular season. He played a tiny bit in 2 games without recording a stat. His promising preseason gives me hope that he is developing into another piece of our defensive line.
Who could we have taken: Dekoda Watson (LB) did backup duty for the Bucs. Played in 15 games (started 1) and had 30 tackles. Or maybe Marc Mariani (WR/KR) who went to the probowl for the Titans as a KR (25.5 avg) PR (12.2 avg).
7(255) T.Toone (WR/KR)
The dreadlocked white guy. A speed WR from DIV II. Was on the practice squad until an injury put him on practice squad IR. He may have another shot next year.
Who could we have taken: He was Mr. Irrelevant, so any UDFA. Compare him to LeGarrette Bount and you feel sad.
Overall Draft Grade: B+ 3 starters and 2 backup players in 6 picks.
6th+7th in 2011 for C. Houston (CB)
We needed a CB, ATL needed to get rid of one. He was our most consistent starter.
5th for C. Williams (DT)
Putting him back in a 4-3 was a good idea. Other than about 50 offsides penalties, he was a monster for us.
5th + R. Henderson (DE) for R.Sims (OG) + 7th
Hender-who? For a solid OG that fills a huge need? Yes please.
E.Sims (LB) for T. Sheffler (TE) + 7th
Sheff played well for us when we needed it (while Grew was still hurt) and came alive later in the season as well. Too bad we lost a starting LB for him.
6th in 2011 for L. Jackson (DE)
6 sacks in backup duty? Thanks, Pete Carroll, for being mayhewed.
D. Gronkowski (TE) for A. Smith (CB)
What can I say? Other than the Thanksgiving game, he was money. I look forward to his return. I think Mayhew might have some tidbits that will help him be a great small frame CB with ball hawk skills.
Overall trade Grade: A-
So there you have it. 2009 draft is a B- and trades are a C+ and in 2010 the draft is a B+ and the trades are an A-. The Front Office is getting better and targeting needed pieces. I think they are putting together a great team that can really contend for years to come.