You’ll see many lists over the next couple of days on the best and worst players drafted by the Lions and the other 31 NFL teams. And while this is another list, it’s one with a twist. This list will focus on the 7 players, drafted by Detroit in the third round or later since 2000 that provided the Lions with the most value. The seven are listed in my perceived order of impact.
Cliff Avril (3, 2008)
Try these numbers on for size: in his last 26 games played, Avril has 14 sacks and 49 tackles…….not bad for a third round pick that was rumored to be headed to the Miami Dolphins just one year ago. As the 2010 season proved, Avril is a solid fit for Gunther Cunningham’s aggressive defensive scheme.
DeAndre Levy (3, 2009)
Another solid third round pick who’s become a fixture in the Lions starting lineup. His play was critical for a linebacking corps that played better at the end of the year than it did at the beginning, when Levy was slowed by injuries.
Cory Redding (3, 2003)
Redding’s 2006 season – when he had 8 sacks and 39 tackles – was his best year during his time as a Lion. That year, combined with that monstrous seven-year, $49 million dollar contract he signed that off-season, increased the pressure to produce on Redding. His 2007 numbers: 1 sack and 27 tackles. Two years later, he was playing for the Seattle Seahawks.
Sammie Lee Hill (4, 2009)
A solid third option in the Lions defensive tackle rotation, behind Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams, Hill’s 2010 numbers – 16 tackles and 2 and ½ sacks – were improved over his rookie season.
Zack Follett (7, 2009)
The fan favorite has been an impact player on special teams, and moved into the Lions starting lineup in 2010. His frightening neck injury in October, however, leaves his status for the upcoming season a question mark.
Terrence Holt (5, 2003)
Like Follett, a good special teams player that earned a spot in Detroit’s starting lineup in 2005. His numbers as a Lion weren’t bad: 128 tackles and 8 interceptions in four years, but it was his inconsistent play that eventually led to him leaving Detroit. By the way, Holt hasn’t played a regular season game in the NFL since 2008, when he was a member of the New Orleans Saints.
Kevin Smith (3, 2008)
Injuries kept Smith from repeating his surprisingly good 2008 rookie season numbers (976 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns) in either 2009 or 2010. Where he’ll play next season – and how effective he’ll be – will be one of the more interesting developments in the off-season.