By: Tony Ortiz
Now that the NFL Draft is in the books, let’s take a little closer look at the Lions eight picks.
Riley Reiff [#23 overall] provides the Lions with some youth along an offensive line that has two starters (Dominic Raiola and Jeff Backus) that are over 30 and another (Stephen Peterman) that will turn 30 once the season begins. Reiff will challenge incumbent Gosder Cherilus at right tackle. He could also see time at right tackle.
Ryan Broyles [#54 overall] was the Lions most controversial pick, with fans evenly split down the middle – some calling the selection a good one, while others hated the pick. Broyles provides Detroit with a solid fourth receiver, joining Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson and Titus Young. He’ll also get a chance to make an impact on special teams, as Broyles could challenge Stefan Logan as the Lions primary kick returner. A key for Broyles will be how quickly he can return from injuring an ACL late in his senior season at Oklahoma.
Dwight Bentley [#85 overall] has been called by ‘draft experts’ a ‘solid’ third round choice that could challenge for a spot in the Lions nickel or dime package. From those ‘in the know’, Bentley is a natural playmaker, who is equally solid in both zone and man coverage. One red flag on Bentley: most of the scouting reports on him point out that he struggled at Louisiana – Lafayette against the run.
Ronnell Lewis [#125 overall] was the Lions most interesting pick. He was a solid and effective – if undersized – pass rusher at Oklahoma, and will get a chance, initially, to play for Detroit on passing downs as a situational pass rusher. Lewis – nicknamed “the Hammer” – will also get a chance to play on special teams, where he could become a fan favorite, similar to Zach Follett. He’ll play at defensive end for the Lions, even though he was projected to be a linebacker in the NFL……..
Like Lewis, Tahir Whitehead [#138 overall] will get a chance to make an impact on both the Lions defense and on special teams. He’s got good size for the position (Whitehead is 6’ 1” and 223 pounds) and was outstanding in his senior season at Temple (5 sacks, 70 tackles, 13 ½ for losses).
Chris Greenwood [#148 overall] will be the one draftee that local fans will root for the most, after playing first at King High School here in Detroit, then at Albion. He possesses good size (6’ 1”), but will need to get stronger (just 193 pounds). G.M. Martin Mayhew said that Greenwood was one of the best athletes that he saw in the draft process, drawing comparisons to former Grand Valley State corner Brandon Carr. One red flag for Greenwood: the competition level for the Division 3 Britons isn’t the same as what he would’ve face at Division 1, which could mean a tough period of adjustment.
Jonte Green [#196 overall] is a cornerback who was solid during his time at New Mexico State, playing against some very good passing attacks – including Oklahoma State, whom the Aggies faced during non-conference play last year. Green possesses good speed (he runs a 4.4 40) and is a very aggressive corner – sometimes, too much. Like Lewis and Whitehead, he’ll get a chance to play on special teams, which he said he’s looking forward to playing on.
Finally, Travis Lewis [#223 overall] was the leading tackler for the Oklahoma Sooners defense last year (84 tackles, 4 for loss). He’s considered a ‘big hitter’, who possesses good quickness and a solid work ethic – especially on special teams where he excelled for Oklahoma. Lewis is also versatile – he can play at both outside and inside linebacker. If he plays inside, he’ll need to get better against the pass, as he struggled in pass coverage. Interestingly, the current NFL player he’s compared to the most: the Lions’ Justin Durant.