Last week, with the release of safety Louis Delmas still fresh on my mind, I went back and put together a list of all the players selected in the second round by the Detroit Lions since Martin Mayhew took over as general manager. The list wasn't pretty, to say the least, but how does it compare to Mayhew's picks in other rounds? Let's take a look:
(Note: The overall pick numbers are listed in parentheses.)
Aside from Best, whose career was ended early by concussions, every player on this list started for the Lions last season. Only Suh played at an All-Pro level, but there still seems to be a lot of untapped potential with guys like Stafford, Pettigrew, Fairley and Reiff. The same is true for Ansah, but he's only been in the league for a year, so that really goes without saying.
Aside from Young, who basically lost his mind, the theme here is injuries. Delmas finally made it through an entire season last year, but he was on a carefully managed practice schedule to keep his knees from being an issue. Leshoure and Broyles have both suffered Achilles injuries, and Broyles has also dealt with two torn ACLs (one in the NFL and one in college). Slay, meanwhile, had a pair of knee surgeries during his first year in the NFL.
Levy and Warford were two of the Lions' best players last season. Interestingly, Levy entered the NFL way back in 2009, whereas Warford was merely a rookie. In any case, both players were outstanding for the Lions in 2013. Bentley, on the other hand, was far from outstanding, but he was at least the Lions' nickelback when healthy. As for the others, Williams has been off the team for a few years now and Spievey was let go last August.
This is an interesting group of players. Hill was quite excellent as a backup defensive tackle, and he ended up leaving for a better deal elsewhere last offseason. Taylor was quite good last season in a backup role, and Fox opened 2013 as the Lions' starting right tackle before injuries became an issue again. Lewis was released last August, and he was by far the most disappointing pick in this group.
Martin was quite good as the Lions' starting punter and kickoff specialist last year. The other three fifth-rounders are defensive players, and Whitehead and Greenwood are both looking to become bigger contributors this year. The other fifth-round defender, Hogue, was released in 2012 and is now in the CFL.
Interestingly enough, the Lions didn't have a sixth-round pick in both 2010 and 2011. (They were also without a fifth-round pick in both 2009 and 2010.) Brown, the sixth-rounder from the start of Mayhew's tenure, last played for the Lions in 2011. The more recent sixth-round picks are still relatively new to the NFL. Green has gotten some starting experience, Riddick served in a backup role last year and Fuller spent 2013 on the practice squad.
Seventh round: Lydon Murtha (228), Zack Follett (235), Dan Gronkowski (255), Willie Young (213), Tim Toone (255), Johnny Culbreath (209), Travis Lewis (223), Michael Williams (211), Brandon Hepburn (245)
This is another interesting group of players. Murtha, Gronkowski, Toone and Culbreath really didn't do anything for the Lions, but aside from Culbreath, all of them at least landed with other teams after departing Detroit. Follett looked like he was going to be a solid special teams player for Detroit for years to come, but his career was cut short by a neck injury. Lewis, Williams and Hepburn are all still looking to break through with the Lions right now, and Young is headed for free agency after being a starter in 2013.
Considering so many of these players are from recent drafts, it's tough to make concrete judgments about certain rounds. However, it's apparent that there have been a lot of risky picks that haven't worked out and a lot of complete whiffs for Mayhew over the years. Part of that is simply the nature of the draft considering every team makes bad picks. Going forward, though, the key is to have more drafts (and undrafted free agent classes) like last year. You can't rely on third-round picks to become stars every year, but the Lions have to start regularly hitting on picks beyond the first round if they ever want to become a consistent contender in the NFC North.