According to ESPN, nobody drafts worse than Lions

Here we go again. It seems like every time I write something about the Detroit Lions it’s negative and this time will be no different. According to’s researchers, the Lions are the worst drafting team in the entire NFL and it’s not even close.

The research was based only on the drafts from 2002-2012. The past two drafts were not included because those players have not had enough time to develop, one way or the other.

Before going any further let me say this is not only an indictment on Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand, though I have made my feeling known on them, but on the entire organization. Former Lions general manager Matt Millen was also responsible for his fair share of subpar drafts and that data is included in this research.

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In order to evaluate each individual draft pick, ESPN used Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value (AV) metric. Essentially they looked at each draft pick and their first four years in the league and then compared it to what the average player picked in the same draft slot is ranked. By doing this, ESPN determined the Lions organization is the worst in the NFL when it comes to drafting.

As I am sure you have deciphered by now, the Lions are number one on the list of worst drafting teams in the NFL. What makes things interesting is not only that they are the worst, but the fact it is not even close.

The ratings are based on the approximate value (AV) metric. Each team was given a rating based on their overall AV and the Detroit Lions were the only team in the entire NFL to have a negative rating.

Who cares about some stupid rating system, how accurate could it be? Well, there must be something to it because the five worst drafting teams according to ESPN are also the five teams with the lowest winning percentage during the given time frame.

Here is the list of the bottom five teams along with their approximate value rating (AV).

Team Approximate Value Rating (AV)
Detroit Lions -6.2
Oakland Raiders 2.0
St. Louis Rams 3.8
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6.8
Cleveland Browns 9.8

Here is what Sharon Katz from ESPN wrote about the Lions:

“Since league expansion, Detroit has been the worst drafting team in the NFL by a wide margin. The number of unsuccessful picks goes well beyond the three players noted above (Charles Rogers, Mike Williams and Jordan Dizon). Since 2002, the Lions drafted 15 players ranked in the bottom 10 percent of AV added, most in the NFL, and many of those players came with a big price tag. Charles Rogers (No. 2 overall) and Mike Williams (No. 10 overall) are the most notable busts; they cost the Lions more than $25 million despite neither making it through their rookie contracts with the team.”

Rogers, Williams and Dizon were all part the Millen era but it certainly does not dismiss what Mayhew has done during his time as general manager of the Lions.

“Admittedly, the Lions hit on a few first-round picks like Ndamukong Suh and Calvin Johnson, but as top-2 picks, they were expected to perform well. What really hurt the Lions in the rankings is their inability to find value later in the draft. The Lions ranked last in terms of value added in rounds four through seven.” Katz wrote.

With the 2015 NFL Draft less than a month away it is time for Mayhew and Lewand to put up or shut up. The Lions offseason up to this point has been a disaster overall and they need a stellar draft to make up for it. Teams that draft well in the NFL seem to win championships and those that draft poorly seem to fail. It’s time for the Lions to turn this ship around, the only question is whether or not Mayhew and Lewand are competent enough to make that happen.

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