1st Round (#2) DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
Key Player(s) Passed On: OT Russell Okung, DT Gerald McCoy
Analysis: Every NFL team that has a top 10 overall selection hopes to pick an impact player with terrific talent, character and work ethic. Detroit found such a player in Suh. The Lions could not stop the run or the pass last season and the former Nebraska great is a major building block for their defense. Suh has a chance to be like Albert Haynesworth (with a better work ethic and less problems off of the field) in Jim Schwartz's defense. PFDN rated Suh slightly higher than Gerald McCoy and Russell Okung. The Lions could use a young, standout left tackle to protect Matthew Stafford. However, the last Super Bowl winner that had a top 5 overall draft pick at left tackle was the Baltimore Ravens in 2001 (Jonathan Ogden). The Lions made the right choice with Ndamukong Suh.
1st Round (#30) RB Jahvid Best, Cal
Key Player(s) Passed On:DE Jerry Hughes
Analysis: Kevin Smith was a pedestrian running back last season (747 yards, 3.4 yards per carry and 4 touchdowns) before tearing his acl late in the year. There is no doubt that the Lions could use an explosive running back. Jahvid Best has terrific speed, quickness and vision, but may not be able to handle enough carries to be a lead back. He had his share of injuries (hip, elbow, foot, 2 concussions back-to-back in 2009) in college to make his durability a legitimate concern. Best has a small frame, narrow hips and fairly long legs for his size. He may have weighed 199 pounds at the scouting combine, but he does not look like he is built to carry the ball 12-15 times a game plus catch the ball out of the backfield. Detroit will find out soon enough if he can handle this because Kevin Smith's knee will likely not be ready in the early part of the season. If Best proves to be no more than a change of pace back who primarily catches passes and returns kicks then the Lions would have been better off drafting a pass rusher like Jerry Hughes. Detroit signed Kyle Vanden Bosch, but he is 31 and the team had only 26 sacks last season. Hughes is a talented pass rusher and Detroit will not return to the playoffs until their defense becomes formidable.
3rd Round (#66) CB Amari Spievey, Iowa
Key Player (s) Passed On:OG Jon Asamoah, OG/OT John Jerry
Analysis: One of the main reasons the Lions have been so bad for so long is they do not win the battle at the line of scrimmage on either side of the ball. Spievey is physical, but has average speed. He has a chance to start early in Detroit because the Lions are weak and thin in the secondary. Spievey was not a poor choice, but the Lions may have been better off shoring up their offensive line. Detroit is average at guard with Rob Sims and Stephen Peterman. Jon Asamoah and John Jerry both could have upgraded the talent of the Detroit offensive line.
4th Round (#128) OT Jason Fox, Miami
Key Player(s) Passed On:DE Ricky Sapp
Analysis: We thought this was Detroit's best value selection. Fox needs some time to gain more strength, but has the toughness, competitiveness and technique to start at left tackle in a couple of seasons. The Lions may have found their future left tackle with a 4th round selection. When a franchise hits on their high picks and finds solid starters later in the draft, good things start to happen. Detroit was wise to pass on Ricky Sapp. He may not have enough power or leverage to play defensive end in the NFL.
7th Round (#213) DE Willie Young, North Carolina State
Key Player(s) Passed On:OT Kyle Calloway
Analysis: Young was a solid selection at this point because he has some pass rush tools. He needs a lot of work defending the run and his overall technique is just average. Young may be able to help the Lions with further development as a situational pass rusher. Kyle Calloway also would have been a fine selection and is a more fundamentally sound player than Young.
7th Round (#255) WR Tim Toone, Weber State
Key Player(s) Passed On:RB Lonyae Miller
Analysis: Toone was a productive, but small slot receiver and kick returner at Weber State. What does his selection say about how disappointed the Lions are in last year's 3rd round pick, slot receiver/kick returner, Derrick Williams? Toone will battle Williams to see who makes the bigger impact on special teams. Lonyae Miller has a fine combination of size and speed. He backed up Ryan Mathews at Fresno State in 2009 and we were surprised that he was not drafted earlier. We thought Miller has a better chance of surprising to the upside than Toone does.
Bottom Line: The Lions are doing a better job in the draft and this will eventually translate into a much-improved record. Suh was a no-brainer selection with the 2nd pick in the draft, but given the Lions track record, nothing should be taken for granted. Jahvid Best is an exciting running back who hopefully is more durable and tougher than we suspect. Detroit did not select a really promising pass rusher or find enough offensive line help, in our view. Best needs to be explosive and handle 200-250 carries a season for this draft to be considered a major success.