Detroit Lions 2014 redraft: Fortune teller and just better editions

(Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images) /
1 of 3
Detroit Lions draft
NEW YORK, NY – MAY 08: Eric Ebron of the North Carolina Tar Heels poses with former Detroit Lion Barry Sanders (L) and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (R) after he was picked. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

The 2014 Detroit Lions draft was terrible. It left a permanent stain on Martin Mayhew‘s career. The most frustrating thing about that particular draft was how easy it would have been for the Lions to do better. I am going to select two players for each pick in the draft. The first will be the one that if I were given the ability to travel back in time, knowing everything I know now, and feed Mayhew the right pick. The second will be one that would have made more sense on draft day in context.

I have already graded this draft. If you want to read that, click HERE. Suffice it to say that the result is terrible. Of the Lions eight picks only two remain with the team: Nevin Lawson and T.J. Jones. The first two picks, Eric Ebron and Kyle Van Noy, were huge disappointments relative to their draft position. At virtually every slot there were better options, even just to the internet schlubs like me.

Round One: Eric Ebron

Lions fans are familiar with this pick. The second-guessing began immediately. Bucky Brooks of called it the “most surprising pick” of the NFL draft. Six of the next seven players selected have gone to at least one pro bowl. The other, Kyle Fuller, just signed a four year, $56 million offer sheet with the Green Bay Packers that was matched by the Chicago Bears. There is literally no wrong answer to the question of “who would have been a better pick?”

In hindsight, knowing that Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley were going to be gone a year later, and the Lions would be forced to play Haloti Ngata and a whiffle ball on top of a wooden stake at defensive tackle, Aaron Donald is the obvious pick. The Lions had a shot at the player who immediately became one of the NFL’s top defensive players. With that said, Martin Mayhew believed he could re-sign Ndamukong Suh. I can’t fault him for not wanting to spend a third first-round draft pick. Donald is the “knowing what we know now” pick in round one. At the time he was viewed as an underweight and stumpy defensive tackle with serious question marks as to whether he could transition to the NFL on the inside. He clearly proved his critics wrong but there was significant doubt.

Looking at the team’s roster going into that draft, there are multiple better options. The Lions needed immediate help at the slot corner as well as tight end. The value wasn’t there at those positions though. The team had just signed Golden Tate to play alongside Calvin Johnson. Selecting wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. would have been ridiculous. Riley Reiff, however, was always going to be a better fit at right tackle than left. The majority of draft analysts saw him as a guy that would move to the right, or inside of the line at some point. The Lions should have drafted Taylor Lewan and made that happen immediately. La’Adriam Waddle looked like a reasonable option on the right side, but he would have been an ideal third tackle.