Lions Notebook: Draft Review

No one quibbles with the selection of wide receiver Calvin Johnson second overall. The questions are about the rest of the draft, including a quarterback position that features an aging Jon Kitna and two inexperienced gun-slingers. Much more inside.

ALLEN PARK - No one quibbles with the selection of wide receiver Calvin Johnson second overall.

Johnson is a special player. He was widely considered the best player in the draft. So what if this is the fourth time in five years the Lions have taken a wide receiver in the top 10? This time they got it right. He will be a weapon in Mike Martz's offense.

"We couldn't be more thrilled with the choice of Calvin Johnson," said team president Matt Millen said. "Calvin Johnson's going to be a big part of getting us to where we want to go."

The questions are about the rest of the draft.

Johnson is the only immediate starter the Lions got, and this is a team that went 3-13 last year, has gone 24-72 over the last six years and doesn't have a strong history of developing draft picks.

The Lions' next pick was Drew Stanton, a quarterback to develop for the future. They also traded backup quarterback Josh McCown. So now if Jon Kitna gets hurt, the Lions will be down to Stanton and Dan Orlovsky, who has thrown only 17 NFL passes.

Millen and offensive coordinator Mike Martz admitted it was a concern. But they think the short-term risk is worth the long-term potential of Stanton and Orlovsky, and they point out McCown was in the last year of his contract.

"Josh isn't going to be here next year," Martz said. "To do this organization justice, to get something for him and have the ability to bring in another young quarterback, allow Danny to grow and see what he is, it just all kind of fit at the same time."

Give Millen credit for being active. He traded down once, moved up three times and made another trade that added a pick. He ended up with three second-round picks. Not bad. After Stanton, Millen picked defensive end Ikaika Alama-Francis and safety Gerald Alexander in the second round.

"Did we fill our needs? Yeah, we filled our needs," Millen said. "As well as we would like? No.

"That's not to say you're disappointed with the players you took. Those are good football players. But that fact that people don't know who Ikaika Alama-Francis is, they'll find out. Same with Gerald Alexander. Gerald Alexander's a good player. That's a good football player."

BEST PICK: When the Lions took wide receiver Calvin Johnson second overall, they might have made the best pick of the draft. Johnson was widely considered the best player in the draft. If you believe the hype, he has the body of Terrell Owens, the speed of Randy Moss, the attitude of Marvin Harrison and the hands of Spiderman. He makes the Lions better immediately.

COULD SURPRISE: Ikaika Alama-Francis didn't start playing football until he walked on at Hawaii in 2003. He's raw and inexperienced. But he's a 6-foot-5, 280-pound athlete. He's tough, physical and can play end or tackle. Coach Rod Marinelli compared him to a young Cory Redding, and Redding is the Lions' franchise player.

A closer look at the Lions' picks:

Round 1/2 -- Calvin Johnson, WR, 6-5, 239, Georgia Tech
The Lions nabbed the player widely considered the best player in the draft. He wowed the Lions when he visited. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz was so smitten, he left notes for coach Rod Marinelli, pretending they were from Johnson, begging to bring him to Detroit.

Round 2/43 -- Drew Stanton, QB, 6-3, 226, Michigan State
After moving down in the second round, the Lions tried to move back up to get Stanton. They failed - and he still fell to them. They like his leadership and moxie. Martz says he has everything you want in a quarterback.

Round 2/58 -- Ikaika Alama-Francis, DE, 6-5, 280, Hawaii
This is one of the most intriguing picks in the entire draft. Alama-Francis didn't start playing football until he walked on at Hawaii in 2003. He's raw, but he's athletic. He can play end or tackle. The Lions traded up to get him.

Round 2/61 -- Gerald Alexander, S, 6-0, 210, Boise State
The Lions noticed him right away when they put on the film of the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma. Alexander laid a lick on running back Adrian Peterson. The Lions traded up to get him.

Round 4/105 -- A.J. Davis, CB, 5-10, 192, North Carolina State
The knock on Davis is that he doesn't play the run well, and that's not good for a Tampa Two corner. But defensive coordinator Joe Barry doesn't agree. He says Davis is willing to stick his face in there and has explosive speed. This is the pick the Lions got from Oakland for wide receiver Mike Williams and quarterback Josh McCown.

Round 4/117
-- Manuel Ramirez, G, 6-3, 326, Texas Tech
The question about Ramirez was his run blocking, but offensive line coach Jim Colletto said he distinguished himself at the Senior Bowl. Colletto called him a "road grader" and lauded his toughness. The Lions traded up to get him, too.

Round 5/158 -- Johnny Baldwin, LB, 6-2, 232, Alabama A&M
Baldwin said he played inside linebacker in college and could fit in the Lions' Tampa Two scheme because he had plenty of experience in coverage. He said he was a "seek-and-destroy" type who goes sideline-to-sideline

Round 7/255 -- Ramzee Robinson, CB, 5-9, 182, Alabama
Mr. Irrelevant might not be that irrelevant. The Lions badly needed cornerback coming into the draft, and they got only two.

Other Notes ...
Offensive coordinator Mike Martz thinks president Matt Millen and coach Rod Marinelli have had a heck of an off-season. "I think what Coach Marinelli and what Matt Millen have done in the off-season and the draft - and I really mean this - is truly remarkable, the way they've attacked the situation and answered all the issues and addressed it in a real timely fashion," Martz said. "The needs from what we talked about when we got done with the season, they've addressed every one of those and answered everything in really outstanding fashion."

After he was introduced at a news conference, second overall pick Calvin Johnson threw out the first pitch at a Tigers game. He fired a high, hard one. It was so high and so hard, it skipped off the glove of Tigers first base coach Andy Van Slyke and sailed to the backstop. But that's OK. Johnson isn't in Detroit to throw. He's there to catch. The fans gave him a warm ovation. "Great fans out here," Johnson said. "I hear the fans are great, and they showed it."

Best Quote ... "Definitely I set high expectations for myself. I expect to go out there and have a great year, try to achieve rookie of the year." -- WR Calvin Johnson, after the Lions drafted him second overall

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