published a list of the ..."/> published a list of the ..."/>

The Three Proper Conditions to Avoid a Draft Bust, Presented by Picks of the Detroit Lions


This week, USA Today published a list of the 25 biggest busts in the history of the NFL draft. On it, three picks of the Detroit Lions naturally showed up, and the team was one of a handful with multiple bad selections as identified by the authors.

A franchise which knows so much about drafting the wrong player should be able to teach everyone else a few lessons about how to avoid selecting players destined to become a dubious byline. In honor of Detroit’s three worst selections, here’s three tips each of them (and others) can provide about getting things right on draft day.

Nov 18, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and wide receiver Titus Young (16) chat before the game between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

1. Don’t take unneeded risks (Mike Williams, Titus Young). Selected by Detroit 10th overall in 2005, Williams was looking to come back strong. You’d think the Lions would have learned from the debacle of drafting Charles Rogers, but alas, they did not. Expecting a player who had sat out of football to make an immediate impact and be the monster he was in college is not always the best path of action. Sometimes, in situations like this, it’s best for teams to avoid temptation. Need an example in 2013? Look no further than “Honey Badger” Tyrann Mathieu, who’s cocky attitude and drug problems a year after sitting out in college might continue to haunt him at the next level.

2. Due diligence on health issues does matter most (Charles Rogers, Kalimba Edwards, Jahvid Best). Though Edwards and Best are not included on the bust list, their selection became questionable as well, especially as injury and inconsistency took hold for each. Edwards could never stay healthy in Detroit, just like Rogers, who was brittle the few times he was in games. To avoid problems, teams must check, double check and triple check everyone, and avoid taking unneeded risks high on players with multiple past injuries, no matter how tempting their talent might be.

3. Sometimes, no matter how special they look, players just don’t fit a franchise or a system. Avoid their selection (Joey Harrington). To everyone, Harrington was the obvious choice to be the next big thing. He had good looks and charm combined with devastating potential, making him irresistible to Detroit. Despite all of that, Harrington was never able to command the city, and his inclusion in the west coast offense of Marty Morhinwheg and Steve Mariucci was constantly awkward. Much like the Raiders’ selection of JaMarcus Russell, from the beginning, the fit felt forced. Avoiding players that just don’t seem to be right is a huge part of success on draft day.

No formula in football is foolproof, but following these lessons from Williams, Rogers, Harrington and others could help a team avoid a noteworthy blunder in 2013.

Max DeMara is the managing editor of Lions 101. You can find him on his personal Twitter account @SportsGuyTheMax or on this site’s Twitter @detroitlions101

Check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.