Mocking The Draft hasn't released its individual 2011 NFL Draft grades just yet, but it did put out a list of winners and losers for this year's draft. Thankfully, the Detroit Lions are now becoming regulars in the winners category, as they are back on that particular list this year. Mocking The Draft explains:
The Lions only had five draft picks, but they really hit on their first three with DT Nick Fairley, WR Titus Young and RB Mikel Leshoure. Each should see considerable playing time as a rookie. Fairley is scary on their line next Ndamukong Suh. Leshoure could be the starting running back next season. It's surprising the team didn't address its glaring needs at cornerback and offensive tackle, though. Their fifth-round pick could have been used on one of those positions.
While the Lions did select an offensive tackle in the seventh round, he is considered a project that will take time to develop. Then again, an offensive tackle in the fifth round probably wouldn't have been much different. Unless they selected an OT in the first round, chances are no rookies would come in and make an immediate impact, but the misconception is still out there that the Lions have a below-average offensive line. Hopefully on the field in 2011 that notion will be proved wrong once and for all.
Like all post-draft analysis, this is just one man's opinion, and only time will tell if the Lions were in fact winners in the 2011 NFL Draft. Even so, it's nice seeing the Lions getting the spotlight for positive things after a decade of negative things.
For more coverage of the 2011 NFL Draft, check out Mocking The Draft, SB Nation's NFL Draft hub, SB Nation Detroit's NFL Draft StoryStream and Pride Of Detroit's 2011 NFL Draft archive.