Draft Grades – Detroit Lions
No. 8 Detroit Lions Grade: A-
If you want to get a good picture of the carnage left in the wake of Matt Millen and the old rookie salary (non-)scale, look no further than the Detroit Lions. It’s almost unfair to give them credit for successfully addressing holes. It would have been almost impossible not to. (Nothing is impossible, Millen insists.)
After the draft started with four consecutive questionable positional fits, the Lions landed Ezekial Ansah to replace their departing franchise player. He’ll line up next to the league’s best pair of defensive tackles. A freakish athlete with incredible upside, Ansah has drawn comparisons to both J.J. Watt and JPP. While that’s the kind of hyperbole I can really get behind, his ability to defend the run and the pass could give Detroit the most fearsome front four in football.
Opting for Darius Slay to bolster a ramshackle secondary counts as a swashbuckling move by GM Martin Mayhew. After upstaging teammate Johnathan Banks over the second half of the college season, Slay “won” the Combine with a 4.36 forty.
It took me a while to warm up to the Lions’ draft because it didn’t do much for the fantasy prospects of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. At least superficially. Keenan Allen projected as a solid late first round pick before a 4.71 time at his pro day sent his draft stock into free fall. The perfect potential complement to Megatron, passing on him at the top of the third round appeared inexcusable.
Larry Warford may redeem the selection. I’ve criticized teams like Chicago and Dallas for taking interior linemen in the first round. This helps explain why. Many scouts felt like Warford was a first round value. Guards often slip, and Detroit took advantage.
When the Lions finally addressed their flagging second wide receiver position, they did so with an intriguing athlete. Corey Fuller’s 107 in the Height-adjusted Speed Score is a notch better than Justin Hunter, and his Dominator Rating was actually superior. Only a couple of late round receivers project as future NFL starters, but Fuller is one of them. A better prospect than Titus Young, this pick confirms the influence of Brian Xanders who is rumored to be on hand to provide an analytical bent.