Mayhew, Scouts Headed to East-West Shrine Game

Posted Jan 13, 2011

General Manager Martin Mayhew is already preparing for the 2011 season.
He will head down to the East-West Shrine game in Orlando, Florida this weekend with other members of the Detroit Lions scouting department.
Mayhew and scouts will interview players each night they are down there, getting a feel for certain guys prior to the NFL Scouting Combine in late February.
“Well sit and just talk to them,” said Mayhew. “ Some of them we’ll visit with again at the combine if we have follow-up questions.”
Between the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl, the Lions’ front office will have talked to upwards of 100 players.
Some will be ruled out because Detroit is not interested; some will be added to the list after impressive interviews.
“Today I’m watching some of these guys on game film,” said Mayhew. “Not doing a whole report on them, but I’ll put one game on to get a feel for each player and then see how they practice at a higher level of competition.”
Looking at this year’s draft, the Lions are in a different situation than they have been in recent seasons. Having built up talent in certain areas – such as defensive line – there are some positions that may carry a more pressing need than others.
That doesn’t mean Detroit wouldn’t draft certain positions, however.
“You’re looking for value,” said Mayhew. “In the seventh round, if you can take a guy you think is a fifth rounder, or a fourth rounder, you’re going to take that guy.”
That was the sentiment surrounding defensive end Willie Young, who was an East-West Shrine Game player last year.
The Lions took Young in the seventh round, excited to get a player they deemed worthy or a fourth- or fifth-round selection.
“We felt good about our defensive line group, but we felt that Willie had better talent than the other players available,” said Mayhew.
The performance of the defensive line proved the point that drafting the best player available can be beneficial, regardless of position.
Young didn’t play until the final game of the season, but injuries had peppered the defensive line.
Starter Kyle Vanden Bosch was placed on Injured/Reserve, yet the defensive line didn’t skip a beat due to the depth of that group.
“We still had Turk (McBride), we still had Lawrence (Jackson), we had Cliff (Avril),” said Mayhew. “Those guys added some depth.”
A high-level player in the later rounds may also bring in trade value.
Detroit drafted tight end Dan Gronkowski in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft, despite also drafting tight end Brandon Pettigrew with the 20th-overall selection.
The Lions ultimately traded Gronkowski to Denver for cornerback Alphonso Smith, who started 10 games and had five interceptions.
So while Detroit will not lose focus on players that fulfill a specific need, talent is most important in the later rounds – regardless of position.
“It’s just about depth,” said Mayhew. “Adding good players.”