Lions Draft Suh at 2 and Best at 30 in NFL draft

Lions Draft Suh at 2 and Best at 30 in NFL draft

Published April 23, 2010

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions' biggest need is talent.

Ndamukong Suh and Jahvid Best seem to have a lot of it.

Detroit added skill on both sides of the ball Thursday night, making Suh the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft and trading up to take the speedy running back Best at No. 30.

"We're addressing positions, not just with Band-Aids, but plugging them pretty good," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said.

Suh, a Heisman Trophy finalist from Nebraska, became the first defensive tackle to be drafted among the top two picks since Oakland took Darrell Russell in 1997. Suh said he isn't worried about the lackluster track record of similar players at his position taken high in the draft.

"I'm a different type of person," Suh said on a conference call.

The 6-foot-4, 307-pound Suh was the first defensive player to win The Associated Press College Football Player of the Year award since its inception in 1998. He had 4½ sacks against Texas in the Big 12 title game and finished with 12 sacks for the season.

"He's not just a one-year wonder," Schwartz said.

The Lions made an aggressive move to get Best late in the first round, dealing their second-round pick, flipping fourth-round selections and giving up one in the seventh round to the Minnesota Vikings.

"If we didn't get him, I was just praying he didn't go to Green Bay, Minnesota or Chicago," Schwartz said.

Best was surprised the Lions drafted him.

"It wasn't a team that contacted me a lot during the process," he said.

General manager Martin Mayhew acknowledged that was part of the plan, hoping to hide Detroit's interest in Best, who ran for 2,668 yards, caught 62 passes and scored 35 total touchdowns at California.

"He's lighting in a bottle," Mayhew said.

Detroit has a lot of problems as the first team in NFL history to lose 30 games in two seasons, and its biggest gaps are on defense. The Lions allowed 517 points, the second-most by any NFL team, in 2008 and 494 last season.

The defensive line got special attention this offseason, with the Lions signing end Kyle Vanden Bosch and trading for tackle Corey Williams before choosing Suh.

"We have the makings of a strong unit that can be the strength of our defense," Schwartz said.

Suh, a native of Portland, Ore., graduated with a construction management degree and plans to donate $2.6 million to his alma mater.

"Great player — better person," Mayhew said.

The Lions are 33-111 since 2001 — when ex-GM Matt Millen turned a lackluster franchise into perhaps the worst — in what has been the poorest nine-season stretch by an NFL team since World War II. They've won just three games since midway through the 2007 season in what has been the worst 40-game stretch since the Dayton Triangles were slightly less successful during the 1920s.

"It doesn't bother me at all," Suh said. "I went to Nebraska when they were not coming off a very good season and our class turned that around, winning 10 games for the first time in eight or nine years. I think I can come in and help the Detroit Lions do the same thing."

Only one of Detroit's previous 12 first-round picks played defense and that player just got dealt: The Lions drafted linebacker Ernie Sims with the ninth pick in 2006 and traded him this week. A vast majority of Detroit's first-round picks have been busts or simply average, and so have most of the defensive tackles taken with the No. 1 or 2 pick overall in the draft.

"It's not my concern at all," Mayhew said. "You have to believe what you see on film."

The Lions watched a lot of it, evaluating whether to draft Suh, Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy or perhaps defensive back Eric Berry or an offensive tackle. The Lions staff took advantage of coaching at the Senior Bowl and of every opportunity to find out more about the prospects as players and people.

They settled on Suh.

"It was a long process and we kept an open mind," Schwartz said. "Every step along the way, he was the best player on our draft board."

Suh was the players fans wanted, especially the few thousand cheering from Ford Field when the pick was made.

"I plan on not disappointing them at all," Suh said.

Best, who is from Vallejo, Calif., was regarded as a contender for the Heisman entering last season. His season and status were affected by a history of concussions, but that didn't stop him from skipping his senior season.

Best will be expected to fill in for Kevin Smith as he recovers from major knee surgery, but he has some health issues to bounce back from as well.

He was hurt in a terrifying sequence Nov. 8, leaping into the end zone for a touchdown and landing on the back of his head from about 8 feet in the air. Best was unconscious after the fall and left the field on a stretcher, leading to an overnight stay at a hospital and the end of his season. It was his second concussion in as many weeks.

"I'm fine," he said. "I got checked out by the best doctors in the world, and they said I was cleared."


Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.


Written by <P>LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer</P>


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