A look at the Lions heading into the 2011 NFL Draft; Detroit has the 13th pick in the first round.


Record – 6-10, a season that featured a losing start and a very strong finish. They were 0-4 and at one point 2-10 in early December. But the Lions finished with four straight victories.

Finish – tied for third in the NFC North with Minnesota, five games behind division winner Chicago.

Playoffs – the Lions have long been out of the post-season picture. They have not made the playoffs since 1999, and haven’t won a game in the post-season since 1991 when they beat Dallas 38-6.


The league was buzzing about the Lions at the end of the 2010 season and their four-game winning streak, including a 7-3 victory over Green Bay. Detroit was close throughout the season, losing by 5 and 4 points to Chicago, 3 points to Philadelphia, 2 points to Green Bay, 3 points to the Jets and 2 points to Buffalo. That’s six games lost by a total of 19 points. 

That they got this done without QB Matthew Stafford was very impressive. Stafford missed a big part of the season after suffering another shoulder injury. This one came in the opening game of the year and although he came back for two starts a few weeks later, eventually went back on the shelf.

Detroit ended the season with 15 players on injured reserve and that was a lot to overcome as several starters went out and did not return. The Lions have done a good job in the last two years of mining the waiver wire and the street for players and they aren’t afraid to make moves and try to get better at every position. It’s worked, but still has a way to go.


Offense – they averaged 339 yards per game, good for a No. 17 rank in the league. They were better throwing the ball than running it and scored 37 offensive TDs. Rookie RB Jahvid Best was the leading rusher with 555 yards on 171 carries. He also added 487 receiving yards to get his offensive production over the 1,000-yard mark. Johnson was the leading receiver with 1,120 yards on 77 catches with 12 TDs. TE Pettigrew caught 71 balls for 722 yards. Veteran Shaun Hill handed most of the QB duties after the Stafford’s injuries, throwing 16 TDs vs. 12 INTs. He finished with a passer rating of 81.3. Overall the pass protection of the Lions was pretty good, giving up just 27 sacks or one every 24 passing plays.

Defense – allowed an average of 343.6 yards per game and gave up 41 touchdowns, 23 through the air. The Lions defense forced 29 turnovers during the season and had 44 sacks. Leading the way on taking down the QB was Suh with 10 sacks in his rookie season. CB Alphonso Smith had five interceptions, returning one for a TD.

Special teams – The kicker position was unstable due to an injury to veteran K Jason Hanson, who was replaced by Dave Rayner. Combined they missed five of 30 FGs. P Nic Harris averaged 44.6 yards a punt, and the Lions net average was 35.8 yards. The return game was handled by WR Stefan Logan, who had a 105-yard kickoff return TD and averaged 26.8 yards on kickoff returns and 12.1 yards on punt returns. Coverage teams struggled, allowing both a punt return and kickoff return for scores.


The duo of GM Martin Mayhew and head coach Jim Schwartz seems to have worked very well in the two years they’ve been on site. The record is just 8-24, but they took the roster down to the bottom and have built it back up and its improved strength is starting to show.

Reportedly Mayhew has the hammer in personnel, but it’s doubtful he’s going to go against the wishes of Schwartz when it comes to adding talent.

Who has the draft room juice? Mayhew, but it’s collaboration in Motown.


1. Outside linebacker. Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham needs some big-potential from his defense and while adding Suh last year was a big help, he needs more from his OLB. That wasn’t there with Landon Johnson and Julian Peterson last year; that duo produced one sack and no interceptions.

2. Cornerback. On the corner, the Lions need some help. They’ve added Chris Houston who played well for them, but he’s a free agent. They added Alphonso Smith and he had five interceptions last year. Former Bears CB Nathan Vasher is there as well, along with journeymen types like Tye Hill and Eric King. Whether that need is filled in round one would be a surprise, but the Lions need another CB.

3. Guard/Center. C Dominic Raiola is getting up there in years, although centers do tend to play longer than other positions. At the guard spots Stephen Peterson and Rob Sims are OK, but a shot of talent there would make all the difference.


The Lions drafting record under departed GM Matt Millen left much to be desired. Roll through those choices, especially in the first round, and it’s a disaster – QB Joey Harrington, WRs Charles Rogers, Mike Williams and Roy Williams were the type of picks that should get a GM fired.

Since 2009, Detroit’s work in the draft has improved and they are another good draft away from getting this team into a contender status.

2006 - There’s not a single player left from this draft and only one is still in the league.

2007 – WR Johnson (1st) has been a big hit as he ranks among the best receivers in the game. Sad to say there’s really n o other contribution from that draft, although QB Drew Stanton (2nd) is still around.

2008 – As a group this class it was better than those that came before, but it did not hit big in a lot of areas. Finding DE Cliff Avril (3rd) was a good one.

2009 – Nine players drafted, six remain and the first four choices are in the starting lineup with Stafford (1st), TE Pettigrew (1st), S Louis Delmas (2nd) and MLV DeAndre Levy (3rd).

2010 – The first three choices are starters, topped by Suh and Best, along with SS Amari Spievey (3rd).


There are still bodies needed here to help this roster. The Lions have done a good job finding immediate contributors in their last two drafts. It helps when they go ahead and put the young kids in and let them play. With a need at OLB, I think they’ll hope Aldon Smith or J.J. Watt is still available. If not, I think they’ll go for Ryan Kerrigan out of Purdue. THE PICK – Ryan Kerrigan.

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