If there's anything the show Arrested Development has taught me (well, besides to always leave a note), it's that the current grading system is outdated. Letter grades are too arbitrary, too static and too invariable. Letter grades are your grandpa's way of evaluating competency. HEY OLD MAN, DID YOUR GRANDSON PRINT OUT THIS ARTICLE FOR YOU TO READ?
Here at Pride Of Detroit, we... pride ourselves on being progressive. So, without further ado, I present to you my New-Age Report Card for the Detroit Lions' 2014 draft.
1. Eric Ebron
I was very skeptical of Ebron all offseason. Despite being a physical freak, I couldn't look beyond that nagging 11.4% drop rate that hung around Ebron like a shameful court-ordered sandwich board. However, after doing a little more digging about how that drop rate actually compares to his type of player, I've eased my worries. Seeing how he perfectly fits into a New Orleans-style offense, I'm becoming very optimistic about this pick. I still may have preferred Aaron Donald, but overall I like Ebron.
Grade: Eric Ebron makes me feel hopeful.
2. Kyle Van Noy
I was very late to the Kyle Van Noy party. Pretty much everyone was pulling for this pick, and almost every Lions fan is stoked about this pick. This had me a little worried. Lions fans have been wrong before. But it didn't take long for me to jump aboard this bandwagon. Van Noy has crazy instincts, solid tackling ability and four years of experience. There's not a lot to hate about this pick. It fits a need, it brings in a playmaker on defense and it adds another potential leader to the franchise.
Grade: Kyle Van Noy makes me feel giddy.
3. Travis Swanson
Center was a clear need for the Lions going into the draft, and they addressed that need at the end of the second day. Swanson was considered by most to be the third or fourth best prospect at that position. He is a versatile lineman who also brings a lot of playing experience. The big knock on Swanson is he's not quite as athletic and physical as an ideal center, but he sounds like a tenacious player who will put in a lot of hard work to eventually dethrone Dominic Raiola.
Grade: Travis Swanson makes me feel moderately impressed.
4. Nevin Lawson
Lawson was exactly the riverboat gambler that the Lions claimed to be looking for. Lawson has shown the ability to make plays (4 INTs and 14 passes defended last year), but his small size also makes him vulnerable to giving up big plays. Lawson tries to make up for that size difference by being a physical defender who toes the line of legality. While the Lions needed help in the secondary, Lawson looks to me like another developmental project at cornerback. The Lions already have a surplus of those.
Grade: Nevin Lawson makes me feel worried.
5. Larry Webster
Webster is crazy athletic and could potentially be a contributor beyond special teams. But he comes from the tiny school of Bloomsburg University (about 9,000 students) and only played two years of football there. He was also being scouted as a tight end, but will end up in the defensive end mix in Detroit.
Grade: Larry Webster makes me feel confused, but intrigued.
6. Caraun Reid
Again, I didn't know much about Reid before the draft. But the instant he was drafted by the Lions, word came in that they had just made the steal of the draft. Reid turned a lot of heads after his impressive performance at the Senior Bowl. With the Lions likely in need of a defensive tackle after 2014, Reid may not only be a contributor this year, but he could potentially be a starter as soon as his sophomore season.
Grade: Caraun Reid makes me feel OH MY GOD XANDERS IS A GENIUS.
7. TJ Jones
The Lions finally grabbed a wide receiver with their second-to-last pick. Jones had an extremely productive senior season, totaling 1,108 yards and 8 touchdowns. Jones has a chance to contribute with a weak roster ahead of him, but he won't come in and set the league on fire. His size will limit him to strictly slot receiver, but the Lions need one of those and Jones has shown a steady increase in productivity.
Grade: TJ Jones makes me feel meh.
8. Nate Freese
Nate Freese is a kicker.