In 2011 Martin Mayhew made a calculated risk. He went for a home run. He decided for the first time to ignore character concerns in the draft evaluation process and go for talent. The thought process makes sense in many ways. What are the chances that all the trouble makers you pick will actually get in trouble? Don't we have a team of veteran leaders that can absorb a few guys with issues and mold them accordingly? I mean the Patriots took Vince Wilfork and signed Randy Moss right? Like I said.....it makes a bit of sense.
Unfortunately, after the events of this week have shown, it was an incredibly poor decision. Mayhew, solid up until this point, made his first serious blunder. There are 3 main reasons why the 2011 draft was a mistake.
Firstly, our team was simply not an established winner with veteran leaders who have won super bowls. Add to it the fact that the Front Office had to know that Suh himself wasn't completely leadership material yet and that we had discipline problems from day one with guys like Gosder Cherlius, the 2011 draft was not the time to bring in guys with issues.
Secondly, after the Lions finished with 4 straight wins in 2010, what we needed more than anything from the #13 pick was solid contribution at a position of value and need. We didn't need a homerun. It seems that we keyed on drafting a player that was deemed "elite" and weren't going to settle for anything less than that.
Finally, this Loins team because of the void that Millen left, had serious long term needs at positions of very high value. Primarily along the Oline, at the CB position and at DE. A very very good argument would need to be made to avoid drafting at one of those positions BPA notwithstanding. If a DT with NO issues fell with Fairleys talent...maybe you take him. But a DT with issues that is only a bit better maybe. No thanks.
I was going to wait to make this judgement until at least after the 2nd season of play for the Fairley draft class. But now the error in Mayhew's strategy is on display for all to see. We took unnecessary risk when we were just starting to build something great and we had a chance to become America's darlings like the Saints did before us. I am afraid to report it looks like we are squandering the opportunity just like the Saints........accept we didn't at least win a Super Bowl first. Just go on to PFT and look at the comments about Fairley's arrest. Before the season you couldn't find anything negative about our team. Now its hard to find positive things from non Detroit Lions fans. What a wasted opportunity.
Now everyone is always critical of the critical when they don't supply an alternative. So I will quickly explain what Mayhew should have done in the 2011 draft and then we can discuss that more in the comments. He should have passed on Nick Fairley and taken either Kerrigan, Pouncey, or Solder. All three are solid pro's that will have long careers. They may not be top 5 at their position but they have some height in their ceiliings. All three would have filled a need and with a year of developent made this current off-season and draft much more simple. Pouncey certainly would have started for Peterman and this year took over for Dom. Kerrigan would be learning with KVB and take over for him this year and next. Solder would probably be our starting LT, like he will be
in New England, and we wouldn't have had to sign Jeff Backus again or use a pick in the first few rounds on Offensive tackle. All three players would have helped us last year more than Fairley and all three players would be set to be long term starters at their position. Would Kerrigan got us a sack against Green Bay in the last game that helped us win? Would Pouncey have got us a yard on a running play that won us a game we lost? Would Solder have started for Gosder, won his spot and then played better than him to the tune of a win? I am betting yes. Any of the three would have been, safe, with good upside, and made this years draft much easier for us to navigate. And our team going into this upcoming year would be more complete.
In the second round Mahyew saved his draft with the amazing Titus Young pick. He should have been happier than a kid in the candy story and NOT gotten greedy. We should have held till our 3rd round pick and drafted either John Moffit or William Rackley. They would have pushed Peterman and Dom and would be a starter this year. Our Interior Oline would actually be able to move somebody. We then should have drafted a running back in the 4th Round. Kendall Hunter, Delone Carter, or a trade up for Roy Helu would have been the way to go. I am betting my life we would have gotten a lot of work out of any of these guys and maybe just maybe.....Best would never have gotten hurt.
Bulls make money. Bears make money. Pigs get slaughtered. We were pigs in the
2011 draft and the negative results are on display for all of the NFL to see. This was easily avoided. And what is even more sad about all this is that if we would have played it safe in 2011 we would probably be in a great position in the 2012 draft to take a look at a guy at 23 like Janoris Jenkins. But now that is totally off the table. Even a guy like Dre Kirpatrick may be hard to justify with the cultural problem the Lions currently have. Fairley and Leshoure can use this to motivate them and make them better. I hope that happens. They are more talented than the other guys we have discussed. But the Detroit Lions franchise would be much better off today if we wouldn't have drafted either of them. Lets hope theseguys prove me wrong.