- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Detroit Lions reporter
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Martin Mayhew has been making selections for the Detroit Lions for six drafts, with the seventh coming up this week when the first round kicks off Thursday night.
His tenure as general manager has been interesting. He started with a rough roster coming off the first 0-16 season in NFL history and has constructed it into one that has made two playoff appearances, including one last season.
Along the way he’s made some smart selections, some terrible ones and a lot of obvious ones as well. During the next three days, we’ll break down Mayhew’s best and worst picks by position, starting today with his 21 picks of players on offense.
Best pick: Matthew Stafford (Pick 1, 2009)
Thoughts: Stafford was the first pick of the Mayhew tenure and it was a good one. He has already set a bunch of team records and has been better than average throughout his career. It was a pick Detroit had to make at the time – the Lions desperately needed a quarterback – and it has worked out for the Lions.
Worst pick: None.
Thoughts: The Lions have only drafted one quarterback under Mayhew, and picked up Kellen Moore as an undrafted free agent in 2012.
RUNNING BACK (4)
Best pick: Theo Riddick (Pick 199, 2013)
Thoughts: Riddick was a good value pick in the sixth round in 2013. After not contributing much as a rookie, he became a viable pass catcher last season. He had 34 catches for 316 yards and four touchdowns – including the game-winner against Miami. He did enough to make Reggie Bush expendable heading into 2015, although his role might change if the Lions draft a running back this weekend.
Other good picks: None.
Worst pick: Mikel Leshoure (Pick 57, 2011)
Thoughts: This was actually a difficult decision, but went with Leshoure over Jahvid Best since Leshoure gained fewer yards than Best (945 to 807) and had his Detroit tenure end because of a lack of production instead of injuries. The argument for Best, of course, would be Detroit trading up to draft a running back with a history of brain injuries in the first round in 2010. That wasn’t a smart move, either, but when healthy, Best was a talent.
Other picks: Aaron Brown (Pick 192, 2009); Best (Pick 30, 2010).
WIDE RECEIVER (6)
Best pick: Corey Fuller (Pick 171, 2013)
Thoughts: The best of a bad, bad group. Fuller was drafted as a project and at least made some contributions last season, but this has been a really poor drafting area for Mayhew.
Worst pick: Titus Young (Pick 44, 2011)
Thoughts: Where to start. Talent-wise, Young was a strong pick, but all of the off-the-field issues turned this into a disaster. Young is out of the league, recently pleaded no contest to a felony battery charge in California and will be sentenced May 5. If he didn’t have those issues, he would have been Mayhew’s best receiver pick by far. Instead he might be his worst pick, period.
TIGHT END (4)
Best pick: Brandon Pettigrew (Pick 20, 2009)
Thoughts: He might have the occasional ill-timed drop and his production plummeted last season as he became a blocking tight end, but so far he’s had a good career. He has 294 catches for 2,898 yards and 16 touchdowns. He’s also the best blocking tight end the Lions have.
Worst pick: Eric Ebron (Pick 10, 2014)
Thoughts: I’ll start by saying it is too early to judge Ebron and a year from now, he might be Mayhew’s best pick at the position. Considering the Lions thought he’d be their No. 3 receiver last year and he had 25 catches for 248 yards and a touchdown, that’s not great production. But he hasn’t proven to be a bad selection yet. Still time for him to go one way or the other. The other tight ends – Michael Williams and Dan Gronkowski – were seventh-rounders and Williams is now a tackle.
Other picks: Dan Gronkowski (Pick 255, 2009); Michael Williams (Pick 211, 2013).
OFFENSIVE LINE (6)
Best pick: Larry Warford (Pick 65, 2013)
Thoughts: Warford was an immediate starter and is a centerpiece on the Detroit offensive line. He could be a Pro Bowl selection at some point in his career and, for now, is the most consistent, reliable piece the Lions have on the line. A fantastic selection.
Worst pick: Johnny Culbreath (Pick 209, 2011)
Thoughts: Initially went with Jason Fox here, but Fox at least played a role for the Lions as a third-day pick. Seventh rounders are typically not going to be bad picks, but Culbreath had a marijuana arrest and never played a game for Detroit. There wasn’t a lot of bad drafting here as three 2015 starters will come from the six years.
A look back at the six drafts that Mayhew has made in Detroit, by position.