After analyzing the draft needs of all 32 teams, PFT will review how well each team addressed those needs. Up next: The Detroit Lions.
What they needed: Offensive line, cornerback, defensive end, wide receiver.
Who they got:
Round 1: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Brigham Young
Round 2: Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi State
Round 3: Larry Warford, G, Kentucky
Round 4: Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina
Round 5: Sam Martin, P, Appalachian State
Round 6: Corey Fuller, WR, Virginia Tech; Theo Riddick, RB, Notre Dame
Round 7: Michael Williams, TE, Alabama; Brandon Hepburn, LB, Florida A&M
Where they hit: The Lions hit on every one of the needs we identified, and they made a particular point of addressing defensive end, taking Ansah in the first round and Taylor in the fourth. After losing both of last year’s starters, Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch, that was a high priority.
Where they missed: Although they drafted one offensive lineman, a third-round guard, tackle remains a need for the Lions: They lost last year’s starting left tackle, Jeff Backus, to retirement and lost last year’s starting right tackle, Gosder Cherilus, to the Colts in free agency. It was a surprise that the Lions didn’t draft an offensive tackle, and it appears that they’ll rely on some combination of Riley Reiff, Corey Hilliard and Jason Fox to give them their two starters. Matthew Stafford can’t feel great about that.
Impact rookies: It sounds strange to say this about a punter, but Martin might be the rookie who’s most ready to provide an immediate upgrade for the Lions. Last year’s punter, Nick Harris, struggled through a tough season and won’t be back this year, and Martin should be able to improve the Lions’ punting in 2013.
Slay will enter training camp as the favorite to start at cornerback opposite incumbent starter Chris Houston, although he’ll need to prove in camp that he’s better than the three corners they drafted last year: Bill Bentley, Chris Greenwood and Jonte Green. Slay may also end up handling returns, which is another area where Detroit needs to get better.
Long-term prospects: Ansah has the kind of freakish athletic talent that could make him one of the best pass-rushers in the league some day, but he only took up American football three years ago and started all of nine games in his college career. He’s going to need some time to get accustomed to the NFL. And after last year’s 4-12 record, Lions G.M. Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz may not have time.