LIONS INSIDER

KEY QUESTIONS: Mayhew's take on the 2014 Draft

Posted May 10, 2014

Tim Twentyman covers the key questions from Martin Mayhew's post-draft press conference.

The curtain has closed and we can turn out the lights on the 2014 NFL Draft.

The Lions came away with eight players – three on offense, four on defense and a kicker.

Opinions will vary across the board regarding this haul, but Lions general manager Martin Mayhew says the team was able to match best player available with needs in a lot of circumstances.

“I think we’ve done that in the past,” he said. “We’ve moved around from time to time in some other drafts and moved up or moved back to draft some guys. But certainly, there were some times when the need matched up with the guy who was on the board. We’re happy with the process.”

The Lions needed a pass rusher, a SAM linebacker, a cornerback, a couple pass catchers and an interior offensive lineman. They got all that, including a kicker.

How do the Lions plan to use fourth-round pick Larry Webster?

The versatile 6-foot-6, 252 pound Webster will play defensive end for the Lions, Mayhew confirmed. The Lions will play a closed and open concept at ends and they like Webster’s athleticism on the open side.

Larry WebsterDE Larry Webster (Photo: AP Images)

“He’ll be a bigger, more-physical, Jason Jones-type of guy (on the closed side),” Mayhew said. “And then on the open side, we’ll have Ziggy over there, and we think Larry has an opportunity to compete over there as well.

“So, we’re really excited about him. He ran 4.60 in the 40. He’s 6-5, 260 pounds, so he’s a big, good-looking athlete.”

Were the Lions targeting defense to open Saturday?

The team drafted CB Nevin Lawson and Webster to open the fourth round and it was little coincidence. There was a long wait to get to those compensatory picks at the bottom of the fourth round, but defense was on Mayhew’s mind heading into the day.

“We were targeting some defensive players,” Mayhew said. “We had a list of defensive players when the fourth round started. Some of those guys went. We had a few offensive players there too, but we were leaning defense. We ended up getting two defensive players.”

Was this draft truly as deep as it was built up to be?

Mayhew says it lived up to the hype.

“When you start getting into the sixth, seventh rounds we were seeing good players, so the depth was there,” he said. “It’s hard sitting there, especially the whole fourth round and watching that whole round go by because we liked a lot of those guys, and then see them getting drafted. There were still good guys in the fourth, fifth round.”

What was the No. 1 criteria for this year’s group of pass catchers?

When asked about the receivers, Mayhew made an interesting remark about what the Lions were targeting from the 2014 class of pass catchers.

The team has led the league in dropped passes the last two years and Mayhew said more than a player’s size or speed, he had to have good hands.

“We had a lot of drops last year,” Mayhew said. “If you want to say there was an issue with the receivers, for me, personally, it was the number of drops. We had a lot of dropped passes, passes that could have been a first down in the fourth quarter to keep the chains moving. We didn’t catch those balls.

“That was more an emphasis in this draft. Guys that could catch the ball and had good hands to make plays for us in those situations in the fourth quarter.”

How smoothly did the process go with a new coaching staff?

For the last five years Martin Mayhew and Co. have been going through this process with Jim Schwartz and his staff. After time, there’s a comfort level that comes with that. Both the personnel department and the coaching staff know what to expect.

It was a different process with Jim Caldwell and his staff, but Mayhew said it was smooth sailing.

“It was very smooth,” he said. “Those guys did an outstanding job. Our entire coaching staff – the guys that were here before and the new coach – did a phenomenal job and worked very hard, especially on this free agency eighth round that we’re finishing up right now.

“Making calls, looking at film, ranking their players; they did a lot of work on this. Our college scouts did an outstanding job as well as I said before. Scott McEwen should be getting kudos for the hard work that he’s done for us. It was a team effort; everybody worked very hard to make it happen and we’re looking forward to getting these guys here and seeing how these guys do.”

Did the Lions find the “closers” they were looking for?

“Well, you look at the guys that we’ve got, like Kyle Van Noy, who have made some plays to finish games out and win games at the end,” said Mayhew. “T.J. Jones is that same type of player, and Caraun Reid, obviously playing Ivy League ball, made some big plays in fourth quarters of games. You watch tape and you want guys that can (close games) for you.