Martin Mayhew didn’t have a lot to live up to when taking over for Matt Millen as the Lions General Manager in 2008. He has actually produced a few valuable players from the 5 NFL Drafts he’s overseen. However, he’s reached quite a bit and missed more often than not and that is troubling going forward with this franchise.
While there isn’t a history of repeated 1st round busts like with Millen and unknown 2nd rounders that never get picked up anywhere after a year or two in Detroit. There is definitely some mid to late round value in his track record, but there are too many misses early, here are the five worst picks, so far (I didn’t include 2013 b/c they haven’t been awful in the regular season yet):
5) Is a tie from two 2011 draft picks, DT Nick Fairley and RB Mikel Leshoure. Now, the fact that these two make this list shows the improvement over the Millen Era, however, what have these two provided to this team going into what should be their 3rd year in the league? Leshoure tore his Achilles tendon before his rookie year, missed the entire season, then was arrested twice for weed possession in the offseason and suspended for the first two games of 2012. So, over two season, Leshoure has played in just 14 games and just a 3.7 yards per carry average.
In the offseason the Lions signed Reggie Bush to take over as the top running back on this team, meaning Leshoure is going to be relegated to goal line duties, if he can be Joique Bell out for those. Not a lot of value for a 2nd round pick that the Lions traded up for.
Then there is Nick Fairley, who also missed a lot of time with injuries and a lot is expected of in 2013, if he can stay on the field. He still has quite a bit of upside at this point in his career, however, if he doesn’t become the disruptive force he was drafted to be on the interior, he could move up this list quickly.
4) 2009 3rd round pick WR Derrick Williams. Williams was drafted with the 3rd round pick acquired in the Roy Williams/Dallas Cowboys trade. Williams was drafted to be a shifty slot receiver and return man and couldn’t do either. He had 42 kick returns in 2009 with a below average 22.2 yards per return. Then there are his receiving skills that made him the top recruit in college football in 2005, which equaled 9 career receptions in 2 seasons. Charles Rogers is embarrassed by his lack of production.
Other Options: 2 picks later Mike Wallace was taken by the Steelers.
3) 2009 1st round pick TE Brandon Pettigrew. Pettigrew is at least still on this team unlike most of the others on this list, but to use a first round pick on a tight end, anything short of Tony Gonzalez style production is going to be a disappointment. But, not only has Pettigrew not put up numbers with in ear shot of Gonzalez, he’s never been a top 10 TE in the league. He has been plagued with drops, inconsistencies and lack of quality blocking skills to help the run game to provide the team first round value and instead has played like a player a team drafts in the 3rd or 4th round and is happy they are useful.
Other options: C Alex Mack, WR Percy Harvin, T Michael Oher, CB Vonte Davis, LB Clay Matthews
2) 2010 1st round pick RB Jahvid Best. The Lions traded back into the first round in 2010 to draft Best, a speedy, skilled running back out of Cal with some concussion concerns. When on the field, Best showed why he was drafted so high. When on the field, Best showed why he fell so low because of his concussions. Unable to play any longer due to numerous concussions in his lifetime, this was a risk pick that flamed out, unfortunately, as it means my #44 Best jersey was a waste as well.
Other options: not a lot missed, Rob Gronkowski was taken about 20 picks later and the Vikings took CB Chris Cook with the Lions pick they traded Best for, who is a good, not great player.
1) 2011 2nd round pick WR Titus Young. What to say about Young? He is out of the league at this point, may still be in jail, his family is trying to get him mental help and it appears as if this character risk was something the Lions should have avoided. Young started fights with in the team, lined up in the wrong spot because he felt he needed the ball more and showed the flashes of amazing skill a few times, but not nearly enough.
Other Options: Anyone.
There are some serious wasted picks in this draft history that have also changed Mayhew’s draft strategy, passing over a player like Janoris Jenkins, a very talented CB with character concerns because he had already brought so many problem players into the organization, more misses would be a fiasco. Because Mayhew missed on his flawed players, he’s unable to keep trying and Jenkins looks like he’s able to get past his issues and be a valuable CB for an up and coming Rams team.
It seems that if the Lions don’t show improvement on the field in 2013 that it could be the last for Mayhew directing a draft for the organization. Fixing the mess left by Millen was going to be a challenge, but 5 draft classes later have not provided a strong result for this front office either.