Detroit Lions 2012 Draft Grades

April 29, 2012


By Eric Ratkowski

Forward down the field,

A charging team that will not yield.
And when the Blue and Silver wave,
Stand and cheer the brave.
Rah, Rah, Rah.
Go hard, win the game.
With honor you will keep your fame.
Down the field and gain,
A Lion victory!
Lion fans planning to head to Ford Field this fall had better memorize those words, because they are going to be singing them quite often after the Lions score…..and they may have to. There are going to be some shootouts this year at Ford Field.
Keeping their best player available strategy, the Lions became even more potent on offense while hopefully improving their dreadful pass defense and adding depth along the way.
Many of their picks in the 2012 NFL Draft  are of the developmental variety, but could provide huge dividends down the line.
With that in mind, lets jump right into the picks.

23. Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

Pick Grade – A-

I have to admit, I screamed a little bit when this pick was made. My initial grade on this pick was a B-. David DeCastro was still on the board and went the next pick to the Steelers. When the Steelers rush to the podium to take someone the pick after your team drafts, your heart sinks a little bit.

After I digested this pick for a little, it makes a great deal of sense.

If you take DeCastro, next season when we don’t resign Gosder Cherilus for beyond obvious reasons (may crash a random friend’s car into a lake if we do) and Backus decides to either walk, retire or resign as a shell of his former self,  not many options are left.

The Lions like Jason Fox as their swing tackle of the future and now they can plug in Reiff on the right side. Lions do need a guard, but not as badly as one might think. Rob Sims had a down year but has an established reputation. Stephen Peterman was not setting the world on fire by any means and took a lot of heat from the Lions faithful. However, he was playing hurt for the entire year.

Ideal situation. Pick up a developmental guard in the 2013 NFL draft. Move Jason Fox or Rieff to RT/LT. Move Backus to guard. FIND a center.

DeCastro may have been the safer pick, but Reiff gives the Lions more flexibility.  It is also pretty difficult to  fault top 10 talent at 23.

54. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma

Grade: B-

There is no doubt that somewhere, deep in the cornfields of Pennsylvania,  Matt Millen was applauding this pick.
I know Lions fans around the state did their best to keep their heads from exploding when this pick was announced, but try to understand from the Lion’s point of view.

The Lions take a best player available strategy. While  I personally wanted Wisconsin C/G Peter Konz, he may not have passed their physical or not fit their scheme.  They also may not have seen a difference in the corners that were available to them in round 2 and those that were going to be available later.

While the need for a wide receiver may not have been imminent, it is more prominent than people think.

Everyone knows that Calvin Johnson will be trying to break the Madden curse. After him, they don’t have much.

Brandon Pettigrew was second on the team in receptions, but he isn’t a receiver.

Titus Young showed flashes last season, but not enough to surpass the aging Nate Burleson on the depth chart.  @Nate13Burleson is a team leader and fan favorite, but his age is beginning to show.

The Lions are not exactly getting a slouch in Broyles. Yes he did suffer a torn ACL, but not before setting the Career NCAA receptions mark. Before the injury he was fighting Michael Floyd and Alshon Jeffrey (OK this may have been a while ago) to be the number 2 receiver off the board. If we was healthy, no doubt in many draft experts’ minds that he would have been a first round pick.

If he comes back fully healthy (and that is a big if), the Lions add another dynamic weapon to the passing game.  Lions only have 3 receivers on the roster. Broyles is  best case scenario a dynamic slot receiver and a complete steal. Worst case would be he can’t stay healthy and never lives up to his potential.

85. Dwight Bentley, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette

Grade – A-

Yay the Lions drafted a corner.My original thought was he would be the Lions pick in round 2 so this was good value in round 3.

I watched a grand total of one Louisiana-Lafayette game this past year, that was their bowl win versus San Diego State. I knew a grand total of one player from that game going in (SDS and now Arizona Cardinals QB Ryan Lindley) and now I know two. Cannot exactly give in-depth analysis on someone you have never watched. So I will let evaluate him for you.

“Bentley had an excellent Combine with a fast 40 time and impressive movement skills in the field work. He opened numerous eyes with his quality performance at the Senior Bowl. Even though Bentley is undersized, he scraps and plays bigger than his measurements. He also has good quickness and agility. “

125. Ronnell Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma:

Grade – A+

I am not even going to deny it, I LOVE this pick.  ESPN rated Lewis as a fringe first round prospect so how he fell to the fourth round remains to be seen.  Absolute tank of a human being at 6’2 250lb. Does have an injury history but is a noted tackling machine.

With Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch possibly out the door next season, the Lions were left with Lawrence Jackson and Willie Young as possible starters. Lewis has developed pass rushing skills but could use some development in other aspects of his game. Have KVB light a fire under his butt, give it a year as a rotational player and lets see what happens.

Lewis also could be moved to OLB if the Lions show some 3-4 fronts.

138. Tahir Whitehead, DE/OLB, Temple:

Grade – D+

As with Bentley, can’t say I have caught many Temple games and ESPN put him in the priority free agent category. If ESPN doesn’t have a player drafted, he is probably a reach in the fifth round.

According to @ryanermanni, the number 2 at Temple is equivalent to the number 1 on Michigan. The guy was great for Temple obviously. Not entirely sure how far being great for Temple is getting to get anyone in the NFL though. Outside of Muhammed Wilkerson, has anyone from Temple done anything relevant in sports recently?

Does fill a need, but better prospects were available, including TCU LB/personal favorite Tank Carder.

The part I absolutely hate about this pick is that the Lions gave up a fourth-rounder in next years draft to get him.

148. Chris Greenwood, CB, Albion: 

Grade – B+

Local small school kid who will need to be developed but has loads of potential. Good size and reportedly ran in the low 4.4s at his pro day. Late riser who many deem to be a late sleeper. Teams could do a lot worse at this point in the draft.

This is starting to hold my theory that the Lions liked the corners available later in the draft as much as those available in round 2.

Not entirely sure why the Lions traded up to get him, but the cost was only a seventh rounder.

196. Jonte Green, CB, New Mexico State

Grade – C-

I am not even going to pretend I know anything about Jonte Green or New Mexico State for that matter. He is a corner, adds depth, backs my theory but many sites didn’t expect him to be drafted. He does not have a write-up on any major site, therefore cannot say I can like this pick too much.

223. Travis Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma

Grade – A

Keeping with the “Oklahoma linebacker whose last name who have a last name of Lewis and is a possible steal” trend, the Lions add not only depth, but a new toys on special teams. Lewis is a great vocal leader, sure tackler and possesses great instincts. May not be an every down player, but this is a great pick-up in round 7.

UDFA Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State

Grade- A+

Not an actual pick but what Moore lacks in natural arm talent, he makes up for instincts. Love the idea of making Moore the backup of the future. Won’t win you a game by himself, but can be an excellent game manager.

Final Draft Grade for the Lions – A-/B+

I loved the Bentley, Reiff and Lewis picks.  Good value and fill needs.

Broyles  pick is growing on me even though I wanted Konz.

I do not know much about the others to make a full-hearted statement.

Lions could have used a RB but they know more about the health of their current ones then any of us do.

I do not own any of these pictures.

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