Lions, Mayhew Leveraged Draft Well

The Detroit Lions utilized the 2010 draft in many ways -- but some weren't necessarily on blue chip talent over the weekend. Much more inside, including a full draft analysis of Detroit's moves ...

Since arriving in Detroit in January 2009, in the wake of the NFL's first 0-16 season, coach Jim

Schwartz has said the Lions' No. 1 need is talent. The Lions added two more blue-chippers in the first round of this year's NFL draft, taking Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (No. 2 overall) and trading up for California running back Jahvid Best (30). They took only four more players after that, and none was nearly as sexy.

But general manager Martin Mayhew also used picks from this draft in trade packages for cornerback Chris Houston, safety Ko Simpson, guard Rob Sims and defensive tackle Corey Williams, all of whom could be starters this season.

BEST PICK: Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh -- The Lions found their franchise quarterback last year in Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick. They found the lynchpin of their defense this year in Suh, the No. 2 overall pick. After years of making poor picks in the top 10, the Lions seem to have nailed it for the second straight draft, landing the most dominant player in college football. With two other new acquisitions -- Williams and end Kyle Vanden Bosch -- Suh turns the defensive line from a weakness into a strength.

COULD SURPRISE: Cornerback Amari Spievey -- He doesn't have elite speed. But Spievey could make an immediate impact for the Lions because they are thin at cornerback and are focused on improving special teams. Spievey's strength is his physical play. He also intercepted six passes in 26 games Iowa, so he has some ball skills. Unless the Lions sign a veteran -- perhaps Adam (Pacman) Jones -- Spievey could compete with Eric King, who is coming off an injury, and new arrivals Houston, Jonathan Wade and Dante Wesley.

A closer look at the Lions' picks:

  • Round 1/2 -- Ndamukong Suh, DT, 6-4, 307, Nebraska: Widely considered the best player in the draft, Suh can stop the run and rush the passer. The Lions added a difference-maker in the middle of a defense that has ranked last three years in a row.
  • Round 1/30 -- Jahvid Best, RB, 5-10, 199, California: Best brings speed and big-play ability to a running game that badly needed it. The concern is his injury history. The scary concussion at the end of his college career was just the latest in a series of issues.
  • Round 3/66 -- Amari Spievey, CB, 5-11, 195, Iowa: Though Spievey wasn't the fastest cornerback left on the board, he fit the Lions' profile because he is physical and a sure tackler.
  • Round 4/128 - Jason Fox, OT, 6-6, 314, Miami (Fla.): Fox figures to be the Lions' third tackle, rotating at left and right behind Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus. He could develop to be the eventual replacement for Backus, who turns 33 in September.
  • Round 7/213 -- Willie Young, DE, 6-5, 251, North Carolina State: Young is athletic, but there were questions about his consistency, toughness and durability in college. He will be a 25-year-old rookie.
  • Round 7/255 -- Tim Toone, WR, 5-10, 175, Weber State: Toone said he has been compared to Wes Welker. He's a speedy, hard-working receiver who also had 95- and 90-yard punt returns for touchdowns in college. He's 25, having done a two-year Mormon mission to West Africa.

Player Notebook:

  • Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the No. 2 overall pick, was the popular choice among Lions fans. At a meet-and-greet with season-ticket holders Monday night at Ford Field, the fans yelled "Suuuuh!" Coach Jim Schwartz said they wouldn't be disappointed. Suh heard about it and echoed his new coach moments after he was drafted. "They've got some great fans," Suh said. "As you can see, they were vying for me to come there, and obviously they got their wish, and I'm not going to disappoint them at all."
  • Suh rode to Radio City Music Hall in New York with Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor, one of the game's all-time great pass rushers and personalities. "LT was being LT," said McCoy, who went No. 3 overall to the Buccaneers. "Everything you all know, he was just being it to the fifth power because the cameras weren't on him. LT being LT is a lot of fun." No one would reveal what they talked about, but Suh said Taylor was "very fiery" and he "learned a lot from him in a short amount of time." Suh and McCoy walked down the red carpet in front of Radio City, wearing dark sunglasses.
  • Many have pointed out that Schwartz succeeded as the Titans' defensive coordinator with another dominant tackle: Albert Haynesworth. "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."
  • Running back Jahvid Best thought he would slip into the second round. Then the phone rang with the Vikings scheduled to pick at No. 30. "They were like, 'It's the Lions,'" Best said. "And I was like, 'Why are the Lions calling me when it's not their turn?' And then they told me they were going to trade, so I just got really excited. I was just so excited. I can't even have words for this moment right now." The Lions held the second pick of the second round, No. 34 overall. But 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."
  • Cornerback Amari Spievey, a third-round pick, ran the 40-yard dash in only 4.53 seconds at his pro day. "I think I'm going to get faster," Spievey said. "I never really ran track or anything. This past off-season's the first time I ever really trained for a 40 in my life and I got so much faster."
  • The Hawkeyes kicked Spievey off the team after his freshman season because of his academics. "I came in unprepared mentally," Spievey said. "I wasn't really ready. It was my first time being away from home, and they switched me to defense. I didn't really want to play defense. I played running back all my life. I had a staph infection. So I just started off on the wrong foot. But being dismissed really opened my eyes, let me appreciate my opportunities at Iowa." Spievey said he received some advice from defensive coordinator Norm Parker. "He told me before I left, 'Men do what they've got to do; boys do what they want to do,'" Spievey said. "I knew I had to grow up mentally to do what I wanted to do." Spievey spent 2007 at Iowa Central Community College, then returned to Iowa for the next two seasons. He intercepted six passes in 26 career games for the Hawkeyes and was first-team All-Big Ten last season.
  • Offensive tackle Jason Fox, a fourth-round pick, is coming off clean-up knee surgery. "Our trainers will look at him and determine what he can and can't do, and we'll get a plan and stick to it," offensive line coach George Yarno said. "He can learn a lot and lift and do all those things through the OTAs if he can't participate all the way. That's OK, too. This is a long haul here. We're not expecting him to come in and be the guy from Day 1."
  • Fox missed one game with an irregular heartbeat in college but said it was no longer an issue. "It was just a fluke thing," Fox said. "I've been totally cleared. I've been back for several stress tests. They just said it was a one-day thing and I passed all the tests with flying colors and was told it will never happen again."
  • The Lions entered the draft with four seventh-round picks. They used one (No. 214) to help them move up for Best. They traded another (No. 220, acquired from Denver with tight end Tony Scheffler in the trade that sent linebacker Ernie Sims to Philadelphia) to the Eagles for a 2011 sixth-round pick.
  • Defensive end Willie Young might have been a seventh-round pick. But asked about his strengths and weaknesses, he said: "Honestly, I don't think I have a weakness, at all. I mean, there are always things that I can always get better at. Things that I'm good at now I can get better at. Like, my first step is great. Quickness is great. I might have run a 4.82, but if you look at my game speed, I'm making plays that maybe a 4.4 guy might make or he may not be making."
  • The Lions made Weber State wide receiver Tim Toone Mr. Irrelevant, the 255th and final pick of the draft. Schwartz thinks Toone could be as popular as the colorful, intense linebacker the Lions picked in the seventh round (235th overall) last year.

    "Zack Follett's going to have some competition for new favorite player, new cult hero in Detroit," Schwartz said, pointing out Toone not only had a lot of big numbers and honors from college, but was a "white guy with dreadlocks." Toone, 5-feet-10, 185 pounds, is 25 years old, having served a two-year Mormon mission in West Africa. He's speedy. He had 95- and 90-yard punt returns for touchdowns in college. "A lot of people tell me I'm like Wes Welker," Toone said. "Having him in the league has helped me out a lot because he's not the biggest guy, but he's a hard-worker, he runs great routes, he's quick. That's why people compare me to him, because I work hard. I try to find open holes and do everything I can to help the team win."

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I come with the mindset to never, ever be a bust." -- Lions DT Ndamukong Suh, the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft.


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