It's hard to believe, but the 2012 NFL Draft will be Martin Mayhew's fourth as general manager of the Detroit Lions. While we are quite a ways removed from the Matt Millen era at this point, it's hard to believe we are already in year No. 4 of the Mayhew era.
Now that we are heading into Mayhew's fourth draft as the Lions' GM, at this point we have a pretty good idea of who is panning out from his very first draft back in 2009. These players have been in the league for three seasons, and by now it's clear which picks were good and which, well, weren't so good. Let's take a look back at the 10 picks made in that year's draft by the Lions.
QB Matthew Stafford (1) - At this time a year ago, every prediction about the Lions had a disclaimer about Stafford's health attached to it. After going down with injuries in each of his first two seasons with the Lions, Stafford's third season was all about if he could finally make it through the year without any big injuries. Stafford proved that he can, and he also proved to be one of the rising stars at quarterback in the NFL by throwing for more than 5,000 yards. The question marks about his health and talent are gone. Now the question is just how good can Stafford be?
TE Brandon Pettigrew (20) - Pettigrew is the lone player selected with a pick from the Roy Williams trade who is still on the team. He emerged in 2010 as a very good tight end, and he continued to show he was an excellent pick by improving his numbers across the board last season by grabbing 83 catches for 777 yards and five touchdowns. Pettigrew has the potential to be one of the best tight ends in the NFL, and although he isn't quite on that level just yet, he is a very nice weapon for Stafford to have.
S Louis Delmas (33) - Although he has dealt with injury issues throughout the first three years of his career, there is a lot to like about Delmas. He is a ferocious player, and when he is healthy he is one of the up-and-coming safeties in the league. He does need to show he can make it through a season without missing time or being limited because of injuries, but Delmas is a very talented player. Former Indianapolis Colts GM Bill Polian, who now works for ESPN, recently named Delmas the Lions' best value pick of the past three drafts.
LB DeAndre Levy (76) - Levy became the Lions' starting middle linebacker in 2010 before shifting back to outside linebacker last season after Stephen Tulloch was signed. As one of the starters on the outside, Levy recorded 109 tackles, one sack, one pass defense, one interception and one forced fumble in 2011. He started in all 16 games and recently re-signed for another year with the Lions.
WR Derrick Williams (82) - Williams was released by the Lions during the final round of roster cuts last September after two disappointing seasons with the team. Detroit was hoping for him to develop into a reliable third receiver, but it just never happened. Williams is now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
DT Sammie Hill (115) - Hill, like Levy, recently re-signed with the Lions. He is back as one of the many talented players on the Lions' defensive line. He is once again expected to be a rotational player at defensive tackle, and looking ahead to 2013, he could be a candidate to start alongside Ndamukong Suh. Hill came into the league as an unknown player from Stillman with a lot of raw talent, and he has developed into a solid player for the Lions.
RB Aaron Brown (192) - Like Williams, Brown was released during the final round of roster cuts last September. He initially made the team, but the Lions released him when they claimed Keiland Williams off waivers. Brown was brought back at the end of November when Jahvid Best went on injured reserve, but he was released a month later (before the end of the regular season). Now, Brown is with the Cincinnati Bengals.
OT Lydon Murtha (228) - The Miami Dolphins signed Murtha off the Lions practice squad back in 2009. He appeared in one game that season and made four starts and eight appearances in 2010. Last season, he landed on injured reserve following the preseason and was out for the entire season. Earlier this month, he re-signed with the Dolphins.
LB Zack Follett (235) - Follett quickly became a fan favorite thanks to his personality both on and off the field. While he began 2009 on the practice squad, he was activated only a month later and emerged as an excellent special teams player. He entered the 2010 season as a contributor at linebacker, but his season was cut short after he suffered a neck injury while covering a kickoff. That injury essentially ended his career, because the Lions released him last summer. Follett appears to be done with football, and last season he did some work as a broadcaster by contributing to Sky Sports in London.
TE Dan Gronkowski (255) - One of three Gronkowskis in the league, Dan was traded by the Lions to the Denver Broncos for Alphonso Smith prior to the 2010 season. He was let go by Denver last September and spent some time with the New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns last season. Currently, he is on the Browns roster.
As you can see, all but one of Mayhew's draft picks in 2009 are currently on an NFL roster, and the only one who isn't had his career ended because of an injury. Four of the picks are currently starters for the Lions, and one is a rotational player. The other four players still in the league are on other teams.