When the Detroit Lions selected Eric Ebron with their first pick in this year’s draft, I’m sure I’m not the only one who had Matt Millen flashbacks. The GM known for collecting wideouts who don’t pan out is forgotten by no Lions fan.
I thought all was lost. Why draft a pass catcher with so many pressing needs defensively? The Lions already had one of the most dynamic offenses in the league in 2013, why add to it when the defense was questionable at best?
It was over. The Lions were doomed to another sub-.500 season and I was resigned to the Lions’ top-10 draft pick fate once again.
But then the Lions and GM Martin Mayhew did something surprising: they drafted a good player at a position of need.
I’m not being facetious here- Mayhew has been a “best player available” type of guy during his entire tenure in Detroit, but I haven’t been impressed with his drafts recently. Most notably, the last two draft classes have been questionable at best.
The guy is responsible for bringing some serious talent to the Lions’ lines, but he’s also responsible for drafting Ryan Broyles and now Eric Ebron. Again, I choose the word “questionable” because I’m a good, unbiased journalist who just seeks and reports the truth.
Now that those of you who’ve read me before are done laughing and those of you who haven’t are debating reading on, I’ll try to make a point.
Kyle Van Noy was not only the Detroit Lions’ best pick in this draft, but was arguably the best pick in the entire second round.
This kid can really play. He can tackle with the best of them, possesses good ball skills, is athletic enough to do something with the ball once he has it, can play special teams, and flies to the ball.
And most of all, he can really rush the passer, and once he gets to that passer, he regularly makes a play on the ball. Just look at the dude’s highlight tape and how many fumbles he causes.
Van Noy would give the Lions a pass-rushing, hard-hitting, ball-hawking threat that they haven’t had since… Night Train Lane?
Seriously, who was the last Lions linebacker that was a threat to sack the quarterback? Maybe the reason Gunther Cunningham never blitzed was because he didn’t have a linebacker capable of doing so. It takes Stephen Tulloch a solid minute to get from his middle linebacker position to the QB, so that won’t work.
Van Noy gives new D-coordinator Teryl Austin a superior weapon against the pass, and to some degree the run. Austin will have a really tough time keeping this kid off the field, and while Tulloch remains their stalwart ILB, Van Noy will likely be a day one starter at OLB and may even play in some nickel situations. DeAndre Levy is good against the pass, but doesn’t pose a threat to sack the quarterback like Van Noy does.
I mentioned it earlier, but this kid doesn’t just play special teams, he plays them with authority. Van Noy blocks a couple punts in the above video, and while I can’t find an exact stat on how many he had at BYU, he’s absolutely an impact special teamer. He should see time there this season as well.
I hadn’t heard of Kyle Van Noy until a few weeks before the draft. I still don’t know a ton about him. I know that I like what I see on tape and that everyone seems to praise him for his high football IQ. I know he can sack the quarterback (26 career sacks) and play the pass (7 career INT).
What I don’t know is if Teryl Austin and co. will develop him into a dynamic playmaker or just another Ernie Sims.