LIONS INSIDER

History reminds us not to miss on early picks

Posted May 7, 2014

A little over 70 percent of all draft-eligible members of the Hall of Fame were taken in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft.

If there’s one draft rule that’s universal throughout the league, it’s not to miss on first-round prospects.

There’s no quicker way to sabotage a roster than for a team to miss on their first pick in the draft. The first round is where teams are supposed to find starters and core players for the next four or five seasons and beyond.

Ndamukong SuhDT Ndamukong Suh (Photo: Gavin Smith)

The most effective way to build the core of a football team is through the draft, and with the new CBA and the rookie wage scale in place, it’s also the most cost effective.

The Lions, unfortunately, built their core of Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh through the old rookie wage scale, and they are now the highest paid trio in the game. They’re all great players, however, and that’s most important in the long run.

According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, of the 222 inducted players who entered the league starting with the college draft in 1936, 104 of them were selected in the first round, including two bonus picks, who were awarded at the top of the round from 1947-'58.

That’s 47 percent of all the Hall of Fame players commemorated in Canton, Ohio, since 1936.

A total of 32 Hall of Famers were selected with second-round picks and 21 were third-round picks, which means 70.7 percent of all draft-eligible members of the Hall of Fame were taken in the first three rounds.

Teams that build dynasties and become consistent winners usually do so with Pro Bowl and Hall of Fame-caliber players on their roster. Teams that draft well in the first three rounds are typically those teams.

Here's a breakdown of Mayhew's first three rounds since 2009:

2009
FIRST ROUND
QB Matthew Stafford: 17,457 career passing yards – 109-73 TD/INT ratio
TE Brandon Pettigrew: 284 career catches and 16 touchdowns
SECOND ROUND
S Louis Delmas: Core player on defense the last four year – no longer with team (Miami)
THIRD ROUND
LB DeAndre Levy: Day 1 starter who had a team-high six interceptions last season

WR Derrick Williams: Had only nine catches for 82 yards in two seasons

2010
FIRST ROUND
DT Ndamukong Suh: Three Pro Bowl selections in first four seasons
RB Jahvid Best: Forced to retire after the 2011 season due to concussions
SECOND ROUND
No selection for moving up to select Best
THIRD ROUND
S Amari Spievey: Drafted as CB but converted to S – no longer with team

2011
FIRST ROUND
DT Nick Fairley: Pro Bowl alternate selection last year after a six-sack season
SECOND ROUND
WR Titus Young: 81 catches and 10 TD’s first two seasons -- released after 2012 season
RB Mikel Leshoure: Nine rushing TD’s in 2012. Played a reserve role in 2013
THIRD ROUND
No selection for moving up to select Leshoure

2012
FIRST ROUND
OT Riley Reiff: Starter at LT in 2013 and helped o-line allow just 28 sacks
SECOND ROUND
WR Ryan Broyles: Has suffered a torn ACL and ruptured Patellar tendon last two seasons
THIRD ROUND
CB Bill Bentley: Has turned into a solid contributor as a starting slot CB

2013
FIRST ROUND
DE Ziggy Ansah: Led all rookies with eight sacks last year
SECOND ROUND
CB Darius Slay: Sometime starter in 2013 with a lot of upside. Expected to start in 2014
THIRD ROUND
G Larry Warford: Already one of the better guards in the NFL

The Lions have drafted some talented players in the first three rounds over the last five years, but they’ve also had some misses -- Titus Young was a big one.

Suh is the only player among that group who’s made it to a Pro Bowl. Stafford could get to one soon, and so could Fairley, Levy, Warford, and Ansah, but if the Lions are going to become consistent winners and playoff contenders, they need to continue to build on the success of the 2013 draft and stockpile more Pro Bowl-caliber players.