Detroit Lions: Grading 2012 draft class

Now that the 2014 NFL Draft has concluded and the much too-early analyses have somewhat halted, let’s grade the Detroit Lions 2012 draft class.

Surprisingly enough, seven of the eight selections are still wearing a Lions uniform.

Detroit Lions

Riley Reiff

Round 1, 23rd overall: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

Reiff was just the second tackle taken in the 2012 draft (Matt Kalil, Minnesota Vikings). He has played in every game since being drafted, making 24 career starts. Reiff has been one of the main contributors on the Lions’ offensive line, turning a glaring weakness into one of Detroit’s strengths.

Round 2, 54th overall: Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma

Many were left head-scratching after the Lions selected the injury-prone Broyles in the second round. He has shown flashes of excellence as a slot receiver, but constant injuries have left him sidelined.

Broyles played in 10 games his rookie season, catching 22 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns before his season was cut short by an ACL injury.

An Achilles injury limited Broyles to just six games in 2013, catching just eight passes for 85 yards.

Round 3, 85th overall: Bill Bentley, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette

Bentley could emerge as a solid nickel-corner for the Lions in 2014. In two seasons he has played in 17 games, making eight starts, and has recorded 44 tackles.

He was the ninth cornerback selected in the draft

Round 4, 125th overall: Ronnell Lewis, DE, Oklahoma

Lewis is the only member of the 2012 Lions draft class that is no longer with the organization. Multiple arrests have completely removed Lewis from the NFL

Round 5, 138th overall: Tahir Whitehead, LB, Temple

It’s very rare to find a starting-caliber player at this stage of the draft, but the Lions did a find job in finding a solid special teams contributor in Whitehead. He has appeared in 30 games, making 20 tackles, and forcing two fumbles.

Round 5, 148th overall: Chris Greenwood, CB, Albion

Greenwood has received limited playing time with the Lions, appearing in just three games over two seasons.

Round 6, 196th overall: Jonte Green, CB, New Mexico State

Green has made seven starts in two seasons, due to constant injuries to the Lions’ defensive backfield. Showing promise as a good special teams player and a solid backup, Green has made 38 tackles, one sack, and one interception in 24 games.

Round 7, 223rd overall: Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma

Along with Whitehead, Lewis has emerged as one of the top contributors for Detroit on special teams. He has appeared in 25 games.

Bottom Line

The Lions receive a B- for the 2012 draft class.

Detroit found a franchise tackle in Reiff with the 23rd-overall pick, which is outstanding considering how many tackles have been selected in the top-15 picks of the last two drafts.

Bentley continues to impress and has the capability to become a reliable slot-corner for the Lions in 2014, which would make him a great third-round pick.

Detroit hasn’t lost complete hope in Broyles but he has been unable to play an entire football season in quite some time.

The Lions fourth-round selection can be chalked up as a complete failure.

However, Detroit found three key special-teams contributors in Whitehead, Green, and Lewis in the draft’s final three rounds, propelling myself to credit the Lions front office with a solid grade for the 2012 draft.

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  • mitch696969

    It is still too early to grade the 2012 draft but I think a B- is generous right now. You can’t entirely fault the Broyles pick but they knew he was hurt so I mark them down there. That leaves the development of Bill Bentley as the saving grade IF it happens. Bentley will face competition from Lawson immediately and has some injury concerns as well. Rounds 2 and 4 are low marks. Round 3 is up in the air and Round 1 is a keeper. You probably only have 1 starter, 3 backups, a load of special teams players when 3 starters, 3 legit backups is the goal. A healthy Broyles, resurgent Bentley would tilt this draft back to favorable.

    • Jordan Johnson

      Drafting 3 starters and 3 quality backups is setting the bar quite high, two starters with two other players in the rotation and two quality special teamers would be an excellent draft. I’m not sold on Lawson, mid-late round corners take at least a year of grooming.