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Reviewing the Lions' 2011 draft class

A look back at the Detroit Lions' 2011 NFL Draft class.

Chris Trotman

Before the 2013 NFL Draft arrives, Pride Of Detroit is taking a look back at Martin Mayhew's past drafts as general manager of the Detroit Lions. Next up is a review of the Lions' 2011 NFL Draft class.

Round 1, No. 13 - DT Nick Fairley (Auburn)

For the second year in a row, Mayhew went with a defensive tackle in the first round. This time he got Fairley, who struggled through injuries and only played in 10 games in his rookie season. In 2012, with injuries in the rear-view mirror (at least for the first part of the season), Fairley became a starter and had 5.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. He once again failed to make it through the entire season because of an injury, but at least he didn't miss time because he was suspended. That was viewed as a very real possibility after two arrests in the 2012 offseason (for marijuana and a DUI), but no discipline was ever handed down from the NFL.

Round 2, No. 44 - WR Titus Young (Boise State)

As a rookie, Young emerged as a weapon in the passing game. He caught 48 passes for 607 yards and 6 touchdowns, and he was expected to break out and become one of the top non-No. 1 receivers in the NFL in 2012. Unfortunately, Young's inability to cope with not being the Lions' No. 1 receiver resulted in him throwing his career down the toilet. Upset with how often he got the ball, he allegedly lined up incorrectly on purpose. This came after he sucker punched Louis Delmas earlier in the year, and both incidents resulted in the Lions sending him home. After his immaturity continued on Twitter this offseason, the Lions said enough was enough and released him.

Round 2, No. 57 - RB Mikel Leshoure (Illinois)

Leshoure finally made his NFL debut this past season. It was a long time coming, as an Achilles injury kept him out for the entire 2011 season. A two-game suspension for a pair of marijuana arrests delayed his debut even more, but he was impressive when he finally did get a chance to play. He ended up rushing for 798 yards and 9 touchdowns in 14 games, and he also added 214 yards on 34 receptions. His status as the Lions' starter going forward is in doubt because of the Reggie Bush signing, but Leshoure will continue to be an important part of the backfield.

Round 5, No. 157 - LB Doug Hogue (Syracuse)

Hogue appeared in 13 games for the Lions in his rookie season, mainly playing special teams. That was once again the case in the five games he played for the Lions in 2012. In the middle of last season, he was released by the Lions, signaling that they didn't believe he had the potential to ever contribute at linebacker. The Carolina Panthers quickly picked him up, and he ended up dressing in nine games for them.

Round 7, No. 209 - OT Johnny Culbreath (South Carolina State)

Culbreath spent the entire 2011 season on injured reserve, and he got the Lions' offseason problems started last year with an arrest for marijuana. The Lions released him before the start of training camp last summer, and he is still a free agent.

2011 by the numbers

Of the Lions' five picks in 2011, only two are still with the team. Hogue is the only one of the three who is no longer with the Lions but is still in the NFL. Young was picked up and quickly let go by the St. Louis Rams after the Lions released him, and he is currently a free agent. Culbreath, as mentioned, is also a free agent.


The Lions completed the following trades (picks are for 2011 draft unless otherwise noted):

  • Traded 75th (third round), 107th (fourth round), 154th (fifth round) and 205th (seventh round) picks to Seahawks for 57th (second round), 157th (fifth round) and 209th (seventh round) picks. The Lions used those three picks to take Mikel Leshoure, Doug Hogue and Johnny Culbreath.
  • Traded 173rd pick (sixth round) to Seahawks for Lawrence Jackson.
  • Traded 220th pick (seventh round) in 2010 to Eagles for 186th pick (sixth round). The Lions later traded this pick and Dan Gronkowski to the Broncos for the 205th pick (seventh round) and Alphonso Smith. The seventh-round pick was later traded to the Seahawks in a separate deal.
  • Traded 210th pick (seventh round) and 171st pick (sixth round) in 2010 to Falcons for Chris Houston.
  • Traded Kevin O'Connell to Jets for 231st pick (seventh round). The Lions used this pick to acquire Shaun Hill from the 49ers.
Tampering penalties

The Lions had to swap picks in the fifth round of this draft with the Kansas City Chiefs as punishment for tampering. The Lions also had to give up a sixth-round pick in the 2012 draft.

What did they get?

To put it bluntly, the 2011 draft class has given the Lions a lot of headaches between all of the injuries and off-field issues. Fairley is now a starter, and his future appears to be bright, but this is only after he had off-field issues and problems with injuries. Leshoure may not be a starter going forward, but like Fairley, his future appears to be bright after his career got off to a shaky start because of injuries and off-field issues.

Considering all the Lions have to show for the 2011 draft class is Fairley and Leshoure, they didn't get much in the grand scheme of things. Hogue and Culbreath contributed virtually nothing, and although Young was good as a rookie, his antics last season were not worth the headache, which is why he was ultimately released. Considering he had red flags for his character going into the draft, this wasn't simply a case of bad luck; this was a risk that backfired on the Lions.


This draft was a disaster for the Lions. There's no other way to put it. Fairley and Leshoure will have to put together some really amazing seasons for this draft class to be remembered for anything other than the off-field issues and the fact that three players didn't even make it to a third season with the team. Only having five picks didn't give the Lions any real margin for error, and they crashed and burned considering Young, Hogue and Culbreath are no longer even on the team.

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