Thursday, January 19, 2012

Detroit Lions 2009 NFL draft in review: three years out

The 2009 NFL draft will always hold a special place for me because it was the first draft I covered professionally, and it was were the rebirth of my team the Detroit Lions began. General Manager Martin Mayhew fleeced the Dallas Cowboys for a first round pick 20th overall and he began to rebuild a team that was not far removed from a 0-16 campaign. The Lions scored big in this draft and with that let us begin our final look at the NFL draft of 2009.

With the first pick overall the Lions selected QB Matthew Stafford out of Georgia. Over his first two years this looked like a waste of the first overall pick, but after Stafford threw for 5,000 yards in year three it looks like the Lions got the right guy to lead their team. Of course this was the first year in which Stafford played all 16 games and if he can stay healthy the future for this team looks very bright.

With the 20th overall pick picked up from the Cowboys in the Roy Williams trade. Mayhew took TE Brandon Pettigrew out of Oklahoma State. Many were critical of that decision at the time, as TE is a luxury for a team that needed so much. However, since the team needed so much why not draft the very best at every position possible. Three years later Pettigrew is a big piece of the Lions offense and I can remember a pass to him on a seam route in almost every Lions' game I watched this year.

With the 33rd overall pick in the second round the Lions picked up Safety Louis Delmas and he has become a fixture in the Lions secondary. For the record that is three impact starters with their first three picks, and that will be the legacy of this draft for Mayhew and the Lions.

Of course there was a miss in here. In the third round they selected WR Derrick Williams. We understand the team needs to have more at wide out than Calvin Johnson but Williams was a clear miss. So far the only miss in this draft class for the Lions of any consequence. They also landed DT Sammie Lee Hill and RB Aaron Brown who also contributed some.

In the end this draft will be remembered as the birthplace of the Lions rebuild plan. After three season and securing three impact starters we have to give it a final grade of an A.

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