The Detroit Lions went into the NFL draft with plenty of holes on offense and defense. With speculation surrounding the fifth overall pick, Martin Mayhew gave us subtle hints as to what he would do. So, after three picks down — and heading into Saturday’s final day of the NFL draft — here are my grades for the Lions draft.
Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, DE, BYU –
Rumors swirled in the days leading up to the NFL draft, but it became apparent the Lions would go with Ansah if the top offensive tackles were off the board. Following the Philadelphia Eagles selecting Lane Johnson — the third offensive tackle in the top 4 picks — Mayhew jumped at a player with, perhaps, the highest ceiling in this class. After essentially playing one season of impactful football at BYU– were he recorded a grand total of 4.5 sacks his senior year– ESPN’s Mel Kiper described Ansah’s climb as the most meteoric rise of any player he’s evaluated in his 35 years of working the draft.
Although he comes raw, so did current Giants defensive end Jason Pierre Paul and Aldon Smith. He has freakish athleticism and a strong build (standing 6-foot-5 271 pounds). Not to be forgotten, the Lions brought in wide-9 guru Jim Washburn as their co-defensive line coach. He helped shape the careers of raw talents such as Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jevon Kearse.
This, essentially, was their only logical pick. Dee Milliner had health concerns (5 surgeries as well as Adam Schefter reporting he will start training camp on the PUP list), Barkevious Mingo had questions with his ability to be a 4-3 defensive end and a guard in the top 5 seemed a bit of a stretch. That said, it still was far from a slam-dunk pick. It’s the ultimate boom-or-bust pick for the Lions. If it works out, Mayhew looks like a genius. If not, it may mean his job.
Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi State –
Darius Slay came into the draft with reports surfacing about potential surgery on his torn meniscus. According to NFL Networks Greg Rosenthal, that won’t be needed.
Reports surfaced on Wednesday morning that Mississippi State cornerback Darius Slay has a torn meniscus in his right knee, news that comes at a rough time for the borderline first-round prospect. But Slay doesn’t believe it’s a serious problem.
Slay told Around The League on Wednesday that he was told by doctors he would not require surgery on the injury. Slay since has worked out for two teams: the Atlanta Falcons andPhiladelphia Eagles. Slay said he worked out for 16 teams in all, and only one asked for an extra MRI.
If this is correct, it’s a good addition to the Lions secondary. He has size (6-foot, 192 pounds) and speed (4.36 forty-yard dash which was the fastest of any corner at the combine) to succeed in the NFL. He has long arms that help him disturb receivers routes and breakup passes. He also doubles as a return specialist, which will come in handy for the Lions. His feet aren’t the quickest which aids his struggle to break on receivers routes.
The injury history is concerning, and his pad level needs to improve. But his physicality and athleticism are intriguing. Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham loves bigger cornerbacks, and Slay will certainly bring that. The Lions addressed their defensive needs with their top two picks, which is encouraging for the fanbase moving forward. With an overhauled secondary, it should make Slay’s transition a lot easier as a rookie.
Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky –
Seconds after the Jets reportedly signed former Lions right guard Stephen Peterman, they replaced him with Kentucky’s own Larry Warford. He became the first Kentucky offensive lineman taken since 1993. He also became the first Wildcat offensive lineman to be selected as an All-American since 1983. He has the build — 6-foot-3, 332 pounds — lower body strength and ability to get to the next level that thrills scouts. In the Senior Bowl, the Lions coaching staff had an up look at Warford, and obviously liked what they saw. His pass protection needs work, which may concern some due to the Lions love for passing.
I liked the idea of addressing the need at right guard early — which all but assures Riley Reiff will take over at left tackle next season — but I question the pick of Warford. He’s a road grader, and gets to the next level with ease. The Lions will undoubtedly run behind him next season, and likely with success. Where I question him is in open space. The Lions love to draw up screens and draws, and that’s Warford’s perceived weakness. If he can improve his pass protection and prove he can play in space, this will be a steal for the Lions in the third round.
The Lions came in and addressed their needs on the defensive side of the ball early. They grabbed players that fit the system and have room to improve inside of it. With the uncertainty along the offensive line, they now seem ready to move forward with Reiff at left tackle and Warford at right guard. Overall, Mayhew addressed needs without reaching, which is encouraging.
Overall Grade: B
What grade would you give the Lions?
- B+ (41%, 60 Votes)
- A (18%, 26 Votes)
- B (18%, 26 Votes)
- B- (8%, 12 Votes)
- C (6%, 9 Votes)
- C+ (3%, 5 Votes)
- F (3%, 5 Votes)
- D (3%, 4 Votes)
Total Voters: 147