Then they traded up to No. 30 overall to land California running back Jahvid Best. Many thought Best was on the Lions' wish list because he had the explosive skill set they wanted, but Best didn't think the Lions were interested.
The reason Suh fell to the Lions was the quarterback factor. The Rams needed a franchise quarterback and drafted Oklahoma's Sam Bradford No. 1 overall. Many analysts considered Suh to be the best player in the draft, and they weren't alone.
"Every step along the way, he was the best player on our draft board," coach Jim Schwartz said. "He has a little bit of the 'it' factor. Everybody has watched a game and seen him on TV. When you turn the game on, when he's in the game, you saw him dominate the game."
Schwartz made his name as the Titans' defensive coordinator when he had a dominant tackle, Albert Haynesworth, working with an outstanding end, Kyle Vanden Bosch. Schwartz brought Vanden Bosch to Detroit as a free agent this offseason. Now he has a new Haynesworth -- a rare player who can stop the run and rush the passer.
"I don't have a problem being compared to him, but I like to be my own player, my own person," Suh said. "I'm not ashamed by any means to learn from somebody else as great as Albert Haynesworth. But I like to be my own player and take bits and pieces from other players, other great players."
Suh is certainly his own man. He's smaller than Haynesworth, at 307 pounds, but has a higher motor. Smart, strong, multidimensional and productive, he fits Schwartz's profile, and he's excited to work with Vanden Bosch, who also went to Nebraska.
"I think the pieces are all there; obviously, now it's just putting the puzzle together," Suh said. "From what I know being there on my visit, I think it's going to be a pretty smooth transition."
Best didn't think the Lions would draft him. He hadn't made a pre-draft visit to Detroit. He hadn't talked to the Lions at all since the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
"Honestly, I was surprised," Best said. "I had a great conversation with them at the combine, but after the combine, it kind of just stopped."
But the Lions apparently were only playing their cards close to the vest. Schwartz wanted more explosiveness in his running game last season, and that was even before running back Kevin Smith suffered a torn ACL.
Best brings home-run ability. He can run the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds. He said he can run with another California product: the Eagles' big-play wide receiver, Desean Jackson. He said he could contribute as a returner and an every-down back.
One question about Best is his history of concussions. But he said he was fine.
"Definitely," Best said. "I've seen so many doctors, and they've all said the same thing. I definitely think I'm past that."
The Lions held the second pick of the second round, No. 34 overall. But looking to land an explosive running back, they didn't want to wait for Best. They sent their second-round pick (No. 34), a fourth-rounder (100) and a seventh-rounder (214) to the Vikings for the No. 30 pick and a fourth-rounder (128).
"Everybody came on the phone," Best said. "They just told me when they got the green light to pick me that the room just erupted. Everybody was excited about it."