Calvin Johnson, WR Georgia Tech First Round

I thought the Lions did the right thing by taking CJ first.  He was head and shoulders the best player in the draft and they took the best player and if someone was willing to step up and pay a kings ransom then they hit the jackpot either way.  They couldn’t pass on CJ.  Remember that the Lions had a very good passing attack last season but running the ball was as ugly as me in a Speedo.  Are you done cleaning the throw up off your monitor?

The Lions will now not only improve their passing attack by eliminating people being able to double team Roy, but they also will open up better running lanes for an anemic rushing attack.

CJ is another piece in the puzzle for the overhaul of the character element of the Lions locker room also.  I was laughing at some of the media making fun of Sarge and Millen for stressing character then joking about learning that CJ had tried pot.  I spent time with CJ at the combine and I knew that the Lions were comfortable that it wasn’t an issue so I asked CJ on Saturday to get the issue settled for folks that would joke about it but not man up and ask him.  “Calvin is the use still an issue and when was the last time you used?”  That was my question and he simply answered “”That was back when I was young in college, so I don’t mess with it any more.”
My grade of this pick:  A+

Drew Stanton, QB MSU Second Round

If Drew Stanton were not available the Lions would have went defense.  As you all know I told you since I was at the NFL Combine that the Lions were all over Drew.  Early one morning at the Combine Matt Millen told me “I love everything about that kid.  He is a franchise guy and he fits exactly what we want to do and be.” 

When I got back from the Combine I told Drew that he was the Lions guy and even told that to his agent Drew Rosenhaus while I was eating dinner with Cliff Ryan in Indy.  If you look back at the videos from last Saturday (click on the Hondo’s House ICON to the right) I continued to bang the drum.  I can understand people saying why didn’t the Lions go defense here?  Why take a guy that won’t contribute this season?  Simple.  IF you see Stanton as your franchise QB then this was a great pick if he becomes that.  If Drew fails to become the Lions franchise QB of the future (and I feel he will get it done) then this was a terrible pick.  If he does become the franchise guy, then you acquired him in the second round and he gets two years of tutelage in the Mike Martz system and that is critical.

I had a GM that has a possible future Hall of Fame QB already tell me before the draft “Stanton has been horribly coached, but he has great talent.  If you put Quinn or Russell at MSU and him in either place for their careers, I don’t see Quinn or Russell getting picked before round five and Stanton as the consensus number one pick.  You can teach technique but you can’t teach talent.”  The coaching issue was never more apparent then at Stanton’s pro day.  It was not good and twenty-five minutes with Martz afterwards made Drew a new QB.

Knowing Drew and how he takes teaching I am not worried about him listening and correcting errors.  Could they have used a defensive starter?  Yes.  Did they get a franchise QB?  I think so.

My grade of this pick:  A


Ikaika Alama-Francis, DE Hawaii Second Round

He needs to get bigger but he brings everything this staff wanted.  He has a high motor and he is great in the 4-3 scheme that he will play.  You will hear that the Lions wanted more of a speed rush end but I can tell you that they had him marked from the beginning and they got there guy.  Some of the most respected services had him rated as a high second rounder and the Lions got him right.

He has to develop but he was a good get.  He will contribute and be a productive Lion.  I don’t think a player that you have to wonder if they will start can get higher then a C+ in the first two rounds.  The Lions think he can but he does have to develop. 

My grade of this pick:  C+


Gerald Alexander, S Boise State Second Round

I thought initially that the Lions “reached” here.  I though that Alexander was a good pick just not this high.  That was until I started talking to scouts and front office people from other teams and learned that there where several teams that had him on the radar and were going to select him late in the second or the early third.  If he is your guy (and he was to the Lions) then they had to make this move.  Again, the onus is on them to make him work.  If he develops as they feel he will then this was a great pick.  If not it was a terrible job of scouting.  The fact is that several teams that have proven scouting staffs loved this kid.  That again places this pick in perspective.

He will be allowed to compete with Bullocks and Kennedy immediately and could by late season be starting for either one.  Before I really looked at this pick I was surprised.  After spending a lot of time yesterday talking to other teams I really am impressed here.  He could be a starter as soon as late next season so this has some real potential.

My grade of this pick:  B-


A.J. Davis, CB NC State Fourth Round

The Lions love this pick.  The knock was that in the Tampa Two defense you have to have CB’s that attack the run and he doesn’t.  I asked him about that part of his game and he told me “I am willing to do that. In college I wasn’t asked to come up and make tackles. We played a lot of man coverage, Cover-2, so I really didn’t have to support the run. So, I didn’t really get the opportunity so show that I could really do that. As far as that goes, when it is time to buckle-up and go, I will be ready.”

Davis has great speed when his hammy wasn’t hurt.  I was told he ran a 4.38 and rumors that it was even lower.  That helps his cause immediately.  The Lions reached here.  That is O.K. if he pans out here.  Whether or not he pans out I talked with several teams that all had him on their radar but none of them at this spot.  May be a great pick but the Lions hurt themselves with Tanard Jackson on the board and taking Davis here.

My grade of this pick: C


Manuel Ramirez, G Texas Tech Fourth Round

This was a great pick.  I had two teams tell me that they had him rated higher then here and both said that they were going to take him next.  One team even told me that they were trying to move up to get him when the Lions took him.  This could be the steal of the draft.  He is coming off of an injury and the Lions are confident he is fine so lets keep our fingers crossed.

He is a huge road grader and is used to pass blocking.  One scout told me “at Tech you don’t have to run block.  We actually put him through some run block drills and he was better then we thought on technique.”  He has to be 100% but if he is, I will be shocked if he at some point doesn’t start.  He could be one of those 12 year O lineman that you hear about.  This was a very good pick.  Dom Raiola is widely viewed around the league as one of the best centers.  People love his nasty and mean attitude (even though off the field he is a great guy) and his strength.  Ramirez is a Raiola only bigger (much) and stronger.  If you love Raiola then you will worship Manny.

Assuming he is healthy and they are confident he will be:

My grade of this pick: B+


Johnny Baldwin, LB Alabama A & M Fifth Round

I really thought this was not a good pick when it happened.  I had all of my research and all the analysts but some times the media thinks they are smarter then the people that do this for a living.  To a T, every team I talked to loves this kid.  Six, that is correct six different teams told me that he had the skill sets of Lawrence Timmons the Pittsburgh first round pick from FSU.  One NFL team official from and NFC team went as far as saying “Baldwin is a great example of a small school kid getting the lack of respect that the big school gets.  We had him higher then Timmons talent wise but with him not having the competition of Timmons he was moved down.  You could look back in three years and see Baldwin joining Willis (49ers First Rounder) as the best LB’s in the entire draft.” 

If he pans out then the Lions stole yet another gem and they are the winners.  Rufus Alexander was on the board and he was proven against better competition.  Why not trade down and get two sixth-rounders?  If they had they could have taken Rufus here and him in the sixth?  If he works then this was a great one but why not trade down and get two great prospects?  No team I talked to had him above the sixth.

My grade of this pick:  C


Ramzee Robinson, CB Alabama Seventh Round

Lacks a lot but can possibly make the practice squad or maybe even the team as a special teams guy.  He was Mr. Irrelevant for a reason but is a high character guy.  You have to root for this kid.  Any seventh rounder with a shot to make your team is a good pick.

My grade of this pick: C


Overall team grade:  B-

You expect them to get the first two right and they did.  I now understand why they took some reaches, because they weren’t reaches at all.  They had talent and could play.  I still say that they could have gotten this entire class as well as Tanard Jackson and Rufus Alexander and that would have made this an A+ draft.
Who knows for three years how it will really work out but even on the reaches they got good players that specifically fit their needs and desires.  This was a good draft with greatness as a real possibility.