Many here at POD have wondered why the Lions have not paid more attention to the offensive line since Martin Mayhew began his reign with the Lions. Among the possible reasons for this perceived slight may be that the OL draft candidates simply weren't rated highly enough when it was time for the Lions to make their selection. Let's, with the benefit of hindsight, take a look at the 2009 draft and see if this might be the case. This is the only draft class we can attempt to judge at this point since most would agree that 3 years is the minimum time frame required to begin to rate a draft class. A list including brief commentary of all offensive lineman drafted in 2009 along with who the Lions drafted per round follows.
Looking at Round 1
1 DET Stafford, Matthew, QB, Georgia
2 Rams Jason Smith OT Switched to RT and now is a question mark due to both injury concerns and inconsistent play
6 Bengals Andre Smith OT starting RT has had injury problems but 2011 was a very good year for him.
8 Jaguars Eugene Monroe OT starting LT when healthy
20 DET Pettigrew, Brandon, TE, Oklahoma State
21 Browns Alex Mack C Starter and likely all pro
23 Ravens Michael Oher OT Back to RT the jury is still out
28 Bills Eric Wood C Solid starter possible all pro
1 DET Delmas, Louis, CB, Western Michigan
7 Jaguars Britton, Eben OT Starting RT also when healthy
17 Seahawks (From Bears) Unger, Max OT Has started at C but still listed as an OT
19 Bills (From Cowboys) Levitre, Andy OL Starting LG solid plus player
22 Vikings Loadholt, Phil OL Starting RT often criticized
26 Patriots Vollmer, Sebastian OL 6'7" Has performed well at both R & LT. Solid plus player.
28 Giants Beatty, William OT Starting LT but pass protection has been a problem.
11 Cowboys (From Bills) Brewster, Robert OT Unemployed
12 DET Levy, DeAndre, OLB, Wisconsin
13 Texans Caldwell, Antoine OG Backup guard
14 Chargers Vasquez, Louis OG Starter
15 Steelers (From Broncos) Urbik, Kraig OT Now a starting G with Buffalo
18 DET Williams, Derrick, WR, Penn State
6 CIN Luigs, Jonathan C unemployed
9 Packers Lang, T.J. OT 6'4" Starting G who has also filled in at both Tackle spots, appears solid.
15 DET Hill, Sammie Lee, DT, Stillman
23 Patriots (From Ravens) Ohrnberger, Rich OG 6'2" Unemployed
32) Broncos (From Steelers) Olsen, Seth OG 6'5" Reserve guard seldom plays
33) Chargers (Compensatory selection) Green, Tyronne OG 6'2" 309 Reserve guard seldom plays
35) Titans (Compensatory selection) Kropog, Troy OT 6'6" 309 Practice Squad
3 Chiefs Brown, Colin OL Reserve guard seldom plays
19 Buccaneers Fulton, Xavier OT 6'4" 302 Unemployed
20 Falcons (From Cowboys) Reynolds, Garrett OT Starting guard
23 Eagles (From Patriots) Tupou, Fenuki OT Last with NO, practice squad maybe
26 Packers (From Ravens through Patriots) Meredith, Jamon OT Now with the steelers after bouncing thru rosters/ Seldom plays
27 Panthers Robinson, Duke OT Unemployed
31 Cardinals Johnson, Herman OT unemployed
34 Patriots (Compensatory selection) Bussey, George OT Unemployed
8 Dolphins (From Raiders) Gardner, Andrew OT Now with Houston. Seldom plays
19 DET Brown, Aaron, RB, TCU
20 Jets Slauson, Matt OG Starting G
4 Eagles (From Seahawks) Fanaika, Paul OG Now with Seattle maybe PS
16 Broncos Schlueter, Blake C Unemployed
17 Steelers (From Buccaneers) Shipley, A.Q. C Unemployed
19 DET Murtha, Lydon, OT, Nebraska Plucked by Miami off our PS. Often Injured
26 DET Follett, Zack, OLB, California Career derailed by neck injury
27 Colts Thomas, Jaimie OT Unemployed
30 Titans Durand, Ryan OG Practice Squad?
37 Bears (Compensatory selection) Louis, Lance OG Started frequently in 2011 but probable stopgap on a weak line
45 Cardinals (Compensatory selection) Canfield, Trevor OG Bounced around Practice squads
46 Lions Gronkowski, Dan TE Despite showing early promise Dan has bounced around and is currently with the Browns.
I was going to post this toward the end of the 2012 season but decided it wasn't really relevant despite some conversations regarding the Lions lack of attention to the Oline at the time. Not because those harboring the view that the Lions were neglecting the Oline didn't have some valid points but because when the 2009 draft began there wasn't a single strength in the Lions position groups. In fact, with the exception of the Oline, all position groups could accurately be described as frighteningly weak. I decided to publish this post now because well hell I'm sick of reading bout pot smoking, dui's, sucker punching etc.
Looking at the 1st round Matt was easily a better choice than any of the Olineman drafted in the top 10. I doubt there'll be an argument on this statement. I can see some still thinking that the Lions would have been better off drafting an Olineman rather than Pet but imo not Oher who was the consensus alternative at the time around here. Alex Mack would have given us an all pro Center though so I can see an argument there. Of course who would we now have at TE if we had done this?...
2nd Round Delmas with the benefit of hindsight is the obvious choice over any Olineman likely to have been on the radar at this point.
3rd round It would have been nice to have avoided DWill but the next worthwhile Olineman drafted was TJ Lange 23 picks later so I doubt eliminating this mistake would have netted another Oline candidate. I'm not going to discuss the additional rounds. This post is long enough and I'll let you guys do that if you want. In this draft at any rate it looks like the Oline candidates just weren''t there when the Lions selected. Tell me what you think.