No one has been more critical of Lions president Matt Millen in his two-year reign atop the Detroit Lions franchise. But Millen, in his first turn running the Lions draft board, made quite a splash drafting three players who all at one time, could have been first round picks.
Millen smartly passed on New England's offer of two first round picks plus a second for
Detroit's second overall. The result? Detroit now has its Manning-to-Harrison duo for the
next seven years barring injury. Michigan State wide receiver Charles Rogers will team
with quarterback Joey Harrington to give the Lions a go-to tandem that should inspire fear
in NFC North secondaries.
Rogers was the consensus best receiver in the draft. At 6' 1" 205, and with the ability to run a 4.2 40, defenses will have to scheme to handle this game breaking receiver. Rogers was overjoyed at being able to stay home as a pro and vowed not to disappoint his team.
"I had teams trying to make a trade with them, but just thankful for my family for
having faith in me and for giving me this opportunity and they won't regret it," said
In round two, Detroit grabbed a player who many felt would be mid-first round in Georgia linebacker Boss Bailey. The younger brother of Washington Redskins corner Champ Bailey, the Boss is a weakside linebacker in the mold of Tampa Bay's Derrick Brooks. Bailey is by far the fastest linebacker in the draft, posting 4.3 40's, unheard of for a linebacker. Still, Bailey was stung by missed tackles and his injury history which dropped him in the eyes of some scouts.
Lions head coach Steve Mariucci compared Bailey to...well...the man of steel. "We just drafted both the fastest wide receiver and [the] fastest linebacker in the draft. Boss Bailey's speed is faster than most wide receivers in this draft. He jumped 45 inches. He can leap tall buildings in a single bound. We love that athleticism and it's a great start to the day."
Detroit then grabbed a player that, prior to his senior season, was regarded as one of the top defensive ends in college football, Texas' Cory Redding. Redding was selected first team All-Big 12 and was a finalist for both the Lombardi and the Hendricks award, named for former Oakland Raider Ted "The Mad Stork" Hendricks, and that is awarded to the nation's top defensive end. At 6' 4", 279-lbs, Redding will jump right into the mix at the left end spot occupied by exclusive rights free agent James Hall. Redding is a very durable player, having 35 consecutive starts to end his collegiate career after compiling 201 tackles (123 solos), 21 sacks for minus 174 yards, 53 stops (third on the school's career-record list) for losses of 249 yards, an interception, six pass deflections, six forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
So after a very productive day atop the Lions draft war room, Matt Millen now turns his attention to filling the Lions remaining needs, running back, safety and offensive line on day two.