Did Lions make right draft picks?
It normally takes two to three years before an NFL team knows how well it drafted.
Sure, the first or second pick could make an immediate impact and bring smiles to the executives who plucked them out of the draft.
But anything beyond that normally takes a while for the dust to settle to see if any more draftees help or stay with the team that picked them.
With that in mind, it’s hard to say how the Detroit Lions did in the recent NFL draft.
On the one hand, it appears the organization addressed some needs and drafted some key players who could help the team.
On the other, the Lions took some risks and made a couple of questionable moves that may come back to haunt them.
Picking defensive end Ezekiel Ansah with the fifth overall pick in the draft is a gamble. The 6-foot-5, 270-pounder apparently has loads of athleticism and his potential is great.
But the Ghana native didn’t even know what American football was until three years ago. He’s a raw talent that will have to learn quickly if he’s to make an immediate impact.
The Lions’ staff coached Ansah in the Senior Bowl and learned a lot about him. Lions fans hope he’s worth the club’s No. 1 pick.
Cornerback Dee Milliner of Alabama might have been a better selection for the Lions, but the team decided to shore up its defensive line first and then concentrate on the defensive backfield.
They drafted cornerback Darius Slay of Mississippi State in the second round, making him the 36th selection overall.
Again, he’s apparently talented. But he also tore the meniscus in his right knee during the offseason and decided not to have surgery.
The Lions are gambling that Slay made the right decision and his knee will not hinder his development or play. But who knows?
Detroit chose Kentucky guard Larry Warford in the third round with the 65th pick. Either Mel Kuiper Jr. or Todd McShay – both ESPN draft analysts – raved about Warford.
The latter, according to CBS Sports, didn’t give up a sack last season. If true, he should shore up a depleted Lions offensive line this coming season.
The Lions then drafted another defensive end in the fourth round, Devin Taylor of South Carolina. That gives the Lions at least three players at that position – Ansah, Taylor and Jason Jones, who came from Seattle as a free agent.
Taylor might be another raw talent who needs a lot of work. Whether he winds up being a solid NFL player will rest on how much he learns from Lions’ defensive line coaches.
Late in the fifth round, Detroit picked punter Sam Martin of Appalachian State. That should be a solid pick, as the Lions’ punting game last season was woeful.
The team finished last in the NFL in punting average (41.4 yards) and net punting yards (37.1).
Martin averaged 45.7 yards a punt last season.
The Lions then drafted four other players, but let’s face it: anyone on that list who makes an impact is a bonus.
It happens, but the chances someone in the later rounds turns out to be a solid NFL player are slim.
On the one hand, the Lions addressed some needs and picked some potential starters in the draft.
On the other, the club took some chances and is gambling potential turns into long-term talent.
Only time will tell how well they did.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is email@example.com