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News » Detroit Lions Inside Slant 2009-04-27

Detroit Lions Inside Slant 2009-04-27

Detroit Lions Inside Slant 2009-04-27

You can't say the Lions didn't stick to their plan.

General manager Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz said repeatedly talent would trump need in the draft because the Lions' roster was so barren after the NFL's first 0-16 season.

And the Lions went with the highest-rated player on the board with each of their 10 picks, starting with the first overall pick, Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, and ending with the second-to-last overall pick, Maryland tight end Don Gronkowski.

The result wasn't what Lions fans might have hoped, wanted or expected. The Lions went offense with their first two picks -- Stafford and Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew 20th overall -- even though their defense ranked last the past two seasons.

And they would have gone offense with their first three picks had Ohio State running back Beanie Wells fallen two more spots. Coach Jim Schwartz said the Lions were looking hard at Wells, who went to Arizona 31st overall. The Lions took Western Michigan safety Louis Delmas at No. 33.

"Let me say this: Everybody we drafted we liked and we saw a role for, so it wasn't like we were just drafting just blindly to take guys," Schwartz said. "But I thought we did a really good job of balancing high-rated players with how we were going to use them."

By some measures, the Lions got good value. Many would say they got the best quarterback (Stafford), best tight end (Pettigrew) and best safety (Delmas) with their first three picks.

And it's not like they didn't fill needs. They got a franchise quarterback. They got a complete tight end. They got a playmaking safety. They got not one, but two returners.

But they ended up with two returners, two tight ends and two outside linebackers when they had a gaping hole at middle linebacker. (One will move inside.) They took only two linemen -- none in their first five picks -- when they have said they believe in building from the inside out.

"We went into the draft saying, 'Let's not go into the draft saying we have to help this position,'" Schwartz said. "What we need to do is go in and say, 'Hey, look, let's grade the talent. Let's take the talent, and let's fit them into our needs.'...

"You don't want to strictly draft need just to take players that your scouts don't really have a good feel for, your coaches really don't have a good feel for. You'd rather take somebody that you like. We still have other opportunities to fill some holes."

BEST PICK: When the Lions picked Pettigrew, fans at the Ford Field draft party booed louder than they did when the Lions picked Stafford. The fans would have preferred Southern Cal linebacker Rey Maualuga or Ole Miss left tackle Michael Oher. But both of those players had issues and dropped in the draft, while Pettigrew was a top-10 pick on some teams' draft boards. Until they took Pettigrew, the Lions didn't have the kind of complete tight end that is important in offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's system.

COULD SURPRISE: Stillman defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill is raw. Coming from a small college program, he needs to learn technique and make the adjustment to the NFL. But at 6-foot-4, 330 pounds, he has the size the Lions want as they try to bulk up their defense, and he can learn behind veteran behemoth Grady Jackson.

A closer look at the Lions' picks:

Round 1/1 -- Matthew Stafford, QB, 6-2, 225, Georgia

The Lions have been looking for their next great quarterback since trading Bobby Layne to Pittsburgh in 1958, and now here comes Stafford, who went to the same high school Layne did. Stafford has a big arm that can get the ball downfield to wide receiver Calvin Johnson, and coach Jim Schwartz said he was the consensus No. 1 player at Lions headquarters. The Lions don't have to rush him because they have a rejuvenated Daunte Culpepper on a one-year deal.

Round 1/20 -- Brandon Pettigrew, TE, 6-5, 263, Oklahoma State

General manager Martin Mayhew said the Lions would take talent over need, and Pettigrew appeared to fit that profile at No. 20. He was rated in the top 10 on some teams' boards. But Pettigrew also fits a need for the Lions. Tight end is an important position in offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's system, and the Lions did not have a complete tight end like Pettigrew on the roster. He is an excellent run blocker and can break tackles after the catch.

Round 2/33 -- Louis Delmas, S, 5-11, 202, Western Michigan

The Lions already had two second-round safeties. But Daniel Bullocks (2006) missed the '07 season with a torn ACL, and Gerald Alexander (2007) missed much of the '08 season with a fractured vertebra. So they added a second-round safety for the third time in four years. Delmas is small. But Mayhew pointed out Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu were about his size when drafted. Schwartz lauded Delmas' versatility, aggressiveness and passion, calling him a "guided missile."

Round 3/76 -- DeAndre Levy, LB, 6-1, 236, Wisconsin

Levy played on the outside at Wisconsin, but he said the Lions had talked to him about playing the middle, where they have a gaping hole. He said he ended up with some similar assignments to the middle linebacker in certain situations in college. He was visiting New Orleans when the Lions scrambled to get him on a plane to Detroit for the last day prospects could visit teams, and he took that as a good sign. He's athletic but might need to get stronger.

Round 3/82 -- Derrick Williams, WR/KR, 5-11, 194, Penn State

Williams said he had the flu during the Combine and participated against the advice of his agent. He called it a bad idea. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds and struggled to catch the ball. But he said he ran the 40 in 4.37 at his pro day. The Lions envision him filling two holes: slot receiver and return man. He returned three punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns in college. One of his mentors is Lions wide receiver Bryant Johnson, a fellow Penn State product.

Round 4/115 -- Sammie Lee Hill, DT, 6-4, 330, Stillman

Hill is huge and athletic, but raw. He went to a small high school and didn't receive scholarship offers from major colleges. He didn't receive much teaching at Stillman and mostly got by because of his size. He wasn't invited to the Combine, but the Lions got a good look at him when defensive line coach Bob Karmelowicz worked him out at his pro day. His build fits the Lions' vision of a bigger, stronger defensive front.

Round 6/192 -- Aaron Brown, RB, 6-1, 196, Texas Christian

Brown could be a change-of-pace back, a kickoff returner and a slot receiver. He's athletic and quick, but not big or known as a blocker. He was not invited to the Combine, but he visited the Lions and spent time with running backs coach Sam Gash. He said he felt more welcome in Detroit than he did elsewhere and was not surprised when the Lions drafted him.

Round 7/228 -- Lydon Murtha, OT, 6-7, 306, Nebraska

Murtha stood out at the Combine. He led the offensive linemen in the 40-yard dash (4.89 seconds), the 20-yard shuttle (4.34) and three-cone drill (7.06). He ranked second in the vertical jump (35 inches) and tied for second in the broad jump (9-feet-2). But he was less impressive in college. He is tall and lanky, and he hasn't displayed strength and power. He also has struggled to stay healthy.

Round 7/235 -- Zack Follett, LB, 6-2, 236, California

Follett is a hard-nosed, competitive guy who found a way to make plays in college, with 13 career forced fumbles. But he lacks ideal size and has a history of injuries. He'll have to use his grit and toughness to overcome his athleticism and durability issues.

Round 7/255 -- Dan Gronkowski, TE, 6-5, 255, Maryland

Gronkowski had good size. He's tough, smart and hardworking. But he isn't known for athleticism. He will compete with Michael Gaines, Casey Fitzsimmons and Will Heller for one of two roster spots.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 27, 2009

Tony Beckham Name: Tony Beckham
Position: CB
Age: 29
Experience: 6 years
College: Wisconsin-Stout
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