Lions general manager Martin Mayhew had his first chance to turn around the Lions franchise after the 2008 season. In 2009, he hired Jim Schwartz to be the head coach of the Lions. He used the first pick in the draft to select quarterback Matthew Stafford from Georgia. He used the Lions second pick in the first round to grab Brandon Pettigrew, a tight end from Oklahoma State.
Mayhew wasn’t done. He used his second round pick to grab safety Louis Delmas and took linebacker DeAndre Levy in the third round. Those two players are key contributors on an up and coming Lions defensive unit.
Mayhew’s first four picks have become significant contributors and could be the keys to Detroit having a successful 2011. Perhaps no one is more important to the Lions success than Stafford. He has shown flashes of brilliance in his career that has been plagued by injuries thus far.
The defense has a proven leader in Kyle Vanden Bosch and an emerging star in N’damudong Suh. The offense belongs to Stafford. He’s the key piece in the puzzle. Stafford makes Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew better. With a potent passing game, the running game has less pressure placed upon it.
If Stafford can shake off the injury bug that has continued to bite him, the Lions could take that next step from up and coming team to realistic contenders.