Lions like quality of their 5-player draft class
ALLEN PARK, Mich. – The Detroit Lions closed the NFL draft by addressing need after two days of taking players they thought had the most talent.
Detroit drafted Syracuse linebacker Douglas Hogue in the fifth round and South Carolina State offensive tackle Johnny Culbreath in the seventh round Saturday.
The Lions didn't end up with a lot of players because they gave up their third- and fourth-round picks to land Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure in the second round. They drafted Boise State receiver Titus Young earlier in the second round and Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley 13th overall.
"We didn't end up with a lot of players, but I like the quality," Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said.
General manager Martin Mayhew said the team tried to acquire more picks Saturday and considered giving up future selections.
"We'd like to have six or seven guys," Mayhew said. "But it didn't work out. We have five and we feel good about the guys."
The Lions insisted they would stick to their draft board, not the depth chart, and didn't waver in the first and second rounds.
"We had the discipline to stick with what we intended to do — take talent," Schwartz said.
It took Detroit until the third and final day of the draft to improve a weak link, taking Hogue with the 157th pick overall in hopes of juicing up the linebacker corps.
"I was just hoping to get drafted," he said. "I didn't expect it in the fifth round. I was thinking maybe seventh. I thought I was just going to make the cut."
Hogue was a running back in his first two seasons at Syracuse, then he played outside linebacker the next two years.
"Inexperienced at the position, but he has a lot of potential," Schwartz said. "He fits exactly what we're looking for at linebacker."
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound native of Yonkers, N.Y., was an All-Big East player last season after averaging seven-plus tackles a game.
"My strength is my speed, going sideline to sideline and pass coverage," he said
Culbreath, drafted 209th overall, will get a chance to be groomed to protect quarterback Matthew Stafford in the future after backing up starters Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus. The Lions have gotten a great player from South Carolina State in the past, drafting defensive end Robert Porcher 26th overall in 1992.
The native of Monroe, Ga., was a state champion in wrestling and a star football player. He committed to play at Florida State, but didn't qualify academically and ended up in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
"At first, it was a setback," Culbreath said. "But it was good for me and a humbling experience to go to a smaller school."
There's a chance none of Detroit's draft rookies will start when the NFL starts its next season.
Fairley will likely back up defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams; Young is expected be a No. 3 receiver behind Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson; Leshoure probably won't beat out Jahvid Best to be the starting running back.
"Filling a need doesn't necessarily mean you're getting a good player," Schwartz said. "You need to have discipline as an organization."
Instead of getting ready for a rookie minicamp this upcoming week, the team will have to hope its newest players stay in shape on their own.
"It's a concern for everybody, but we have to deal with it," Schwartz said.