Martin Mayhew evaluates the 2012 Detroit Lions draft class

Posted Jan 3, 2013

GM Martin Mayhew admitted that he would have liked more from this year's draft class - Riley Reiff, Ryan Broyles, Bill Bentley, Ronnell Lewis, Tahir Whitehead, Chris Greenwood, Jonte Green and Travis Lewis - but realized that injuries played a big factor in that.

The Lions front office and coaching staff have been in personnel meetings this week following a 4-12 season. Every player and coach is evaluated, including the eight rookies that were part of their 2012 draft class.

The Lions got a mixed bag from their rookie draft class this season. Injuries were the overwhelming story, with second-round pick Ryan Broyles (knee), third-round pick Bill Bentley (shoulder) and fifth-round pick Chris Greenwood (abdominal tear) all unable to finish the season.

In the case of Greenwood, his season never got started because his injury occurred in OTAs.

First-round pick Riley Reiff played in all 16 games and started one, but could never supplant Jeff Backus or Gosder Cherilus in the starting lineup without injury being the cause.

Interestingly, the biggest contribution came from sixth-round cornerback Jonte Green, who played in 15 games with five starts at right cornerback.

Mayhew admitted that he would have liked more from this year's draft class - Riley Reiff, Ryan Broyles, Bill Bentley, Ronnell Lewis, Tahir Whitehead, Chris Greenwood, Jonte Green and Travis Lewis - but realized that injuries played a big factor in that.

General manager Martin Mayhew gave his opinions on each draft pick in his end-of-the-year sit down with beat writers.

Riley Reiff, T, first round, No. 23 overall:

"He did a really good job. I think there are teams he would have started for. I just thought coaches felt that Jeff (Backus) and Gosder (Cherilus) played really well and those guys are very prideful. I think they saw a young guy that was ready to play and both of those guys played really well and really solid this year.

"Our coach did a great job of finding a way to get him involved in it and getting him on the field. He showed he belonged when he was out there, so we're excited about what he brings to the table. I suspect he'll be a good player for us for a long time.

"He can play four spots (both tackle and guard spots). They could evolve over time, but I see him at tackle right now."

Ryan Broyles, WR, second round, No. 54 overall:

"Was injured early, didn't do a whole lot in (training) camp. Came into the season and as we got an injury to Nate (Burleson) he got more involved in the offense and gave us a glimpse of what he's capable of. He had a couple good games in there, a couple of really impressive games.

"As soon as we got really excited about him, he got hurt (ACL tear) and he was done for the year. We didn't get a whole lot out of Ryan, but Ryan had a great rehab on his first ACL, he's a tough guy and a hard worker.

"I feel pretty confident he's going to get through this one too, but next year might be the same as this year was where he may not do much during camp and he may come on around midseason. That's kind of the way that might go.

"You'd like to have that guy to come in and contribute from day one and catch 40 balls for you or 50 balls as a rookie. It just didn't happen for him because of the injury."

Bill Bentley, CB, third round, No. 85 overall:

"Comes in and has a great offseason in OTAs and training camp is going great and then his shoulder pops out (preseason vs. Oakland). Once his shoulder popped out his play declined.

"He still played, but how well he was playing was different after his shoulder started coming out on him. Then he went on (injured reserve) and we didn't get a whole lot out of him."

Ronnell Lewis, DE, fourth round, No. 125 overall:

"He played about seven or eight games for us on special teams and then at some point wasn't able to get active, but his situation is kind of unique because we had four quality defensive ends. One thing we talked about on the (draft) board when we were on the clock and he was on the board was how do we get him active?

"This was something we kind of anticipated. We've got four good defensive ends and it was hard to get five defensive ends up (on game day).

"He had to be making enough of a contribution on special teams to put Lawrence Jackson down or put Willie Young down to deactivate those guys and he wasn't. He wasn't making that big of a contribution.

"I think he's going to be a factor moving forward. I think he's going to be a good rotational defensive end and a special teams player for us. He's got ability without question. He's good on special teams, he just didn't have enough impact to make one of those other guys inactive."

Tahir Whitehead, LB, fifth round, No. 138 overall:

"Was deactivated maybe the first two games then he became a player for us on special teams. You could continue to see him grow throughout the season and he's got upside going into next year. He became a pretty solid special teams player by the end of this year."

Chris Greenwood, CB, fifth round, No. 148 overall:

"Greenwood was injured. We didn"t get anything out of him because he was injured early. One of those things that happens."

Jonte Green, CB, sixth round, No. 196 overall:

"He started off slow. Of the three corners that we drafted, he was probably third most of the offseason, all through OTAs and minicamp, and he ended up playing more than any of them. He really showed some promise and he's got some upside.

"He"s got some size and he's physical enough. He made a couple plays on the ball. He"s really strong and he"s gotten stronger since he got here. He's gained about 10 pounds since he got here. He's got some upside for next year. I think he's going to be in the mix next year."

Travis Lewis, LB, seventh round, No. 223 overall:

"Was a special teams guy for us. Was injured early, I think it was a hamstring or quad pull or something like that early in the season and ended up being a special teams guy for us. I think he and Tahir will be competing for play time next year."