Millen: I wanted DeMarcus Ware, got talked into Mike Williams

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In 2005, Lions President Matt Millen used the 10th overall pick in the NFL draft on Mike Williams, the third straight year Millen drafted a receiver with a Top 10 pick. With the 11th pick, the Cowboys drafted DeMarcus Ware.

Williams was a bust who is now out of the league, while Ware is one of the best pass rushers of his generation. So it’s not surprising that Millen says he should have drafted Ware. And in an interview with USA Today, Millen says he would have drafted Ware — except that the Lions’ scouting staff talked him out of it.

DeMarcus Ware — it wasn’t even close. You put the tape on, you see,” Millen said of his own evaluation of the players in that draft.

So why did Millen pick Williams instead?

“I just capitulated. It’s nobody’s fault but my own,” Millen said.

Millen says he knows why his tenure running the Lions was a failure, but he doesn’t like to go into all the reasons because there’s not much more he can say.

“There was no success there, but anything you say about it sounds like an excuse, and I’m not about excuses. They’re reasons after the fact. What can you say? . . . You’re better off saying nothing. They’re my mistakes. . . . I didn’t pick the right guys,” Millen said.

Drafting Williams over Ware was a stark example of not picking the right guy.

54 responses to “Millen: I wanted DeMarcus Ware, got talked into Mike Williams

  1. Just when I was starting to remember him as more of a player and a TV analyst he has to go and remind us he was also the worst GM of all time…

  2. THIS type of thing is why Millen is no longer a GM (and should never be again).

    He sounds douchier than ever in the fact that he let people “convince” him of a pick.

  3. Currently being stuck with Ponder although not for much longer is like the Lions and Joey Harrington. You can have all the skills in the world and play well against college kids but in the pros at a higher level when you have no heart or confidence and are playing scared with happy feet its over and your team wastes a draft pick. Williams, Harrington and Ponder aren’t the first round 1 draft picks to be a dissapointment and terrible and they won’t be the last. Right Akeli Smith and Ryan Leaf. Millen isn’t the only GM who’s had to take it in the old keister.

  4. Yea, that sounds like an excuse. If it wasn’t even close and he didn’t pull rank as the GM, it’s was clear he wasn’t an effective GM. Then again, his teams’ record under his tenure also speaks volumes about his ability as a GM.

  5. So says every deposed GM. 3rd yr with 1st rd WR. he’s not even a good broadcaster. NFL shows are like welfare for ex players

  6. Matt Millen was one of the very best LB’s to play the game and he was, and is, a mighty fine man.

    As a GM though, not so much.

  7. Why is Millen still being ripped apart. The guy wasn’t a good fit, got fired, and both parties have moved on. Maybe the media should too…

    Millen highlights: Jeff Backus, Cory Redding, Kevin Jones (injured, but 1000 yard RB), Calvin Johnson, Gosder Cherilus, Kevin Smith (injured, but 1000 yard RB), Cliff Avril, and Jerome Felton

  8. I don’t think very highly of Mr. Millen, but I will say he deserves a lot of credit for saying it is his fault and he makes no excuses. So many people have no trouble throwing someone else under the bus, it take cajones to stand up and take the blame on yourself.

  9. The only thing that could make you look stupider than drafting Mike Williams, is telling people you allowed yourself to be talked into drafting Mike Williams.

  10. Matt Millen sure did not mind taking millions of $$$$ from the Lions for being a bad GM!!!!

    As a bad GM, he set himself up for life!!!!

  11. LIES! What a weak thing to say. More finger pointing. YOU were in charge and YOU lead the Lions as the worst GM in professional sports. OWN IT.

  12. Millen is a bust!!! How he has the ‘nads to show up for work on NFL, I’ll never know. He should be ashamed of what he did to the Lions. The Lions should be ashamed for hiring this mutt in the first place.

  13. What a knucklehead ! Your top-rated guy is available at #10, you’re the decision maker (AND a former linebacker), and you let someone convince you to select a player who: A. Sat out for 1 yr. prior to the draft after only 2yrs at USC, B. Ran slower than expected at the combine, and C. Wasn’t expected to go anywhere near the top 10 and D. Was definitely NOT the best player available. What kind of disciplined decision making is that ??? So glad he’s gone…..

  14. If I were to believe his take on Ware/Williams (which I don’t) then how does he explain the other 10 years of failed draft picks? Out of the 61 picks he made as GM I count at least 43 busts (and that’s being generous as I think it’s closer to 50). Millen’s son Matthew states that he was in the draft room for the first 7 years of Millen’s tenure, but the only example that Matt and his son could give was Ware.

    His comment, taken in the best light possible is, that he had one good opinion while he was in Detroit but was so incompetent as a GM that he failed to stand by his convictions. In the very worst light it looks like a poor excuse as to why he failed.

  15. Yeah, and Mr. Davis wanted to draft Calvin Johnson and was talked into taking JaMarcus Russell. It’s a shame that Millen can’t just man-up and admit he was in over his head and wasn’t qualified to be a GM. He was once a decent LB (at least when playing the run) for successful teams , both with the Raiders and 49ers. Sadly, now when his name is mentioned,I think of his awful commentating and worst-of-all-time GM run.

  16. How can anyone believe this guy, he was, is and always will be a fraud. Besides him and his Son, who is admitting that he didn’t want Mike Williams??? You can’t be a man who states that he’s not one to make excuses, and then follow it up by making excuses. Capitulation my butt, he ruled with an iron fist and the held the Ford’s at bay, by not stepping down when he realized he was incompenent. He should have given Millions back to the fans who endured his reign.

  17. I believe him. It sounds reasonable that a linebacker would pick another linebacker in the draft.

    And I honestly thing that Millen was a fall guy for the Ford family who were really pulling the strings. He knows too much about football to make some of the mistakes that happened in Detroit.

  18. A hall-of-fame player, does not necessarily make a hall-of-fame general manager.

    Just shut up, Matt. You’re not helping any one think any better of you. Just shut up.

  19. Millen was an awful gm but in fairness he wanted Quentin jammer and the fords forced Harrington on him. Maybe the fords kept him so long because they knew no one else would listen to them.

  20. Roy Williams wasn’t a bad player for the Lions and he netted them an additional first and third. I don’t know why you would cite him as an example of a bad pick by Millen. It’s also hard to evaluate Harrington as a player because of the poor offensive line and supporting cast around him while he was developing.

    Millen’s tendency to overdraft “skill” players instead of linemen with his early picks is what did him in. It was a league-wide phenomenon at the time too and it really wasn’t until the 2006 and 2007 drafts we started to see teams gravitate towards linemen for early picks(Mario Williams, Joe Thomas) after a long recess.

  21. At the time, if he didn’t take Charles Rodgers he would’ve been crucified. I detest the Packers, but this reminds me of the Mandrich pick. In hindsight, they shouldn’t have picked him, yes. But you can’t judge picks out of context of the time that they were made. If you think the Packers should’ve taken a QB, fine. But if you think they should’ve taken someone else because Mandrich turned out to suck, you are mistaken. Go back and watch the film on Mandrich coming out. Read the scouting reports. He was a once in a lifetime talent. Of course, we now know he was a walking Du Pont factory. But I’ve always maintained that, AT THE TIME, taking Tony was the correct thing.

  22. freepretzels says:
    Oct 8, 2013 12:03 PM
    I believe him. It sounds reasonable that a linebacker would pick another linebacker in the draft.

    And I honestly thing that Millen was a fall guy for the Ford family who were really pulling the strings. He knows too much about football to make some of the mistakes that happened in Detroit.
    Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner.

    Even so, he still didn’t blame them, but look around and you’ll see a bunch of morons talking like he did.

  23. Every first round pick made by the Lions in the era immediately after the Joey Harrington pick was made for the sole purpose of justifying the Joey Harrington pick.

  24. I watched that draft and when Williams was still on the board at ten, the Lions practically tripped over themselves to get up there to pick him, with tons of time left.
    Wanted Ware, my butt.

    Sounds like old Matty is trying to position himself for another front office job.

  25. how can you get “talked into” making a decision when you have the final say on all decisions?

  26. “I let myself get talked into it.”

    Translation, it’s Steve Mariucci’s fault. He still blames Mariucci for everything. Then again, after he got canned, Millen even tried to blame the fans in Detroit for his failures (plural) as Lions GM.

    And it ain’t like there were a lot of genius personnel decisions during his reign as a whole. The Rod Marinelli experiment resulted in 0-16.

  27. Ware was one of many picks you screwed up Jack A_ _!!! You where the head man in charge, if your staff was inept it’s because YOU hired them!! If your Boss was teling you who to pick then that makes you spinless or just in it for the money, either way YOU ARE TO BLAME!! Stop acting like your hands where tied and or you where talked into something you didn’t want to do.

  28. OK, I’ll keep this short this time.

    Weak leader. Part time GM while living in PA most of the time. Clueless on how to run an organization. Terrible decision making. Listened to the wrong guys. Blamed everyone else. Empty suit. Terrible hires. The worst draft record of any GM in any sport at any time. Unprepared. Ignored screaming red flags about players and coaches. Bag of hot air at pressers. Brutal self evaluator.

    Easily the worst hire in the NFL, Ever.

    No one buys your sob story Matt, you stole your paycheck for 8 years. Stay away from the game and my TV forever.

  29. This sounds like a classic case of, “I accept full responsibility – but it was really someone else’s fault.” The second part of that sentence effectively washes away the first part.

    Also, Millen’s laundry list of gaffs goes farrrr beyond one draft pick. There was like a decade of brutal picks.

    That stated, Millen was a fiery player who played with an enormous amount of passion – even by the standard of NFL ballers. And he was, by all accounts, an exceptional teammate to have – a great person to have your back in a dogfight.

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