Welcome back, Bears faithful. Monday and Wednesday, we looked at the Packers 2011 draft class. Today, we'll take a peek at the newest members of the Detroit Lions. Follow me to the clearing at the end of the jump and we'll glare into the eyes of the enemy together......
The Lions only picked five players in this years draft. And the Lions made the most of them. Check out this haul...
In the first round, the Lions managed to nab one-time projected first overall pick Nick Fairley of Auburn. The 6'4" 291 lb defensive tackle is brutal. Against the pass, he has non-stop hands, more moves than Micheal Jackson and he's as explosive as they come. And he's equally adept against the run. The guy has virtually no flaws in his physical game. But.....he has a reputation as an asshat. His attitude is a huge concern and he has problems keeping his emotions in check. And his work ethic leaves a lot to be desired. The Lions might have gotten the best player in the draft. Or they might have gotten the worst bust. If just a little of Ndamukong Suh's work ethic and stability can rub off on Fairley, the Lions will have the absolute best defensive tackle combo in the league. But with Fairley's attitude, that is a big "if". Still, there is no way that the Lions could pass on the possibilities, and I give this pick an A+.
The first player the Lions grabbed in the second round was Boise St wide receiver Titus Young. The 5'11" 174 lb wide-out is best suited as a slot receiver. He has explosive quickness and can make people miss. He is fantastic at losing coverage in underneath routes and has decent speed to get away from defenders. Size is really his biggest problem, as he is a very slim receiver and doesn't have the bulk or strength to attack for the ball. Some time in the weight room will help Young quite a bit. He's got a ton of upside, and not a lot of negatives, but I'm not sure that Young will be able to overcome the size issues at this level. He will also give the Lions a good option as a return man, though. Overall, I'd give this pick a B.
The second choice the Lions made in the second round was Illinois RB Mikel Leshoure. Leshoure looks like the Lions idea of "Thunder" to Jahvid Best's "Lightning". With a 4.56 40 time, Mikel isn't the fastest RB in the draft, but he does have a great burst and good quickness for a big back. He does a good job of breaking tackles and pushing the pile. Mikel has better agility than you would expect from a back his size. He's also an adequate pass blocker and receiver out of the backfield. He does need to work on his vision and making quicker decision, as he tends to dance a bit in the backfield. I think this was a very good pickup for the Pride, and should give Detroit a good 1-2 punch for years to come as well as helping Detroit in short yardage situations. I give this pick an A-.
The Lions didn't pick again until the 5th round, and I really was confused by this selection: Douglas Hogue, LB from Syracuse. I honestly think this was a stinker of a pick. Hogue wasn't the best LB left on the board at the time, and he wasn't even close. He has decent lateral agility and good speed. He also has a good backpedal when in coverage, and has good burst. That being said, his strength is lacking, severely. As is his overall agility. He posted the worst Bench for LBs at the combine (18), the worst 20 yard shuttle (4.57). I'm not a big combine guy, don't get me wrong. And combine numbers should not be used as a determining factor in drafting, IMO. But the physical failures highlight issues that were already known. The exclamation point, if you will. The laundry list of his negatives reads like this: Poor at reading and reacting, plays too high, poor instincts, gets pushed around by blockers in run support, has problems disengaging blocker, takes poor angles to the ball carrier and misses too many tackles. Hogue isn't a horrible physical specimen, but his speed and his few positives just don't add up to a fifth round selection, IMO, or even a 7th round selection. I give this pick an F
The final selection for the Lions was 7th round pickup Johnny Culbreath. Culbreath is a mammoth tackle (6'5" 325 lbs) from South Carolina State that saw his stock raising him onto the draft boards late. He had an outstanding pro day and that put him on the draft radar. He was the 2009 MEAC Offensive Linemen of the Year. I haven't been able to find a whole lot about the guy, to be honest. But what I have found says that he's a raw talent with great physical ability and huge holes in his technique. Sounds like a 7th round tackle selection, to me. I'll give it a C.
Despite the mind-boggling pick in the 5th, I think the Lions had a damned good draft. I know a lot of people thought they should have addressed the corner position in the top rounds, but I am a subscriber to the theory that if you improve the defensive line, you improve the secondary, and the Lions certainly did that. They drafted BPA, and I will never deduct points for that. The Hogue pick being the lone factor against them, I give the Lions overall draft an A-.
Let's have it, ladies and gentlemen! What are your thoughts on the Detroit Lions 2011 draft class?