In a wild and unpredictable first round at the 2012 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions stayed put at No. 23 and landed Riley Reiff, an offensive tackle from Iowa.
Thanks to several early trades and a couple of surprise picks mid-round — Bruce Irvin No. 15 to the Seahawks and Shea McClellin No. 19 to Chicago, for example — Detroit had its pick of Reiff, offensive lineman David DeCastro, pass-rushers Nick Perry and Whitney Mercilus, plus running backs Doug Martin and David Wilson. In the end, the Lions opted for Reiff, who gives them depth at a position where they desperately need some.
Reiff could provide some help on either end of Detroit’s offensive line. Veteran Jeff Backus, who’s coming off an injury, is entering the final years or his career on the left side; Gosder Cherulis has been inconsistent on the right and has just one year remaining on his contract.
Lions linebacker Justin Durant had this to say via Twitter:
Congrats to Riley Reiff on being selected to the best organization in the league…let’s get to work bruh
— Justin Durant (@JDurant52) April 27, 2012
Reiff’s stock dropped in recent days, with many pundits citing his less-than-ideal arm length for a left tackle. However, Reiff has proven himself to be a sturdy blocker, especially in the pass game, where he’ll be used most often in Detroit. If Backus and Cherulis enter 2012 healthy, Reiff could benefit from a year of seasoning as Detroit’s third tackle, though he may also be able to provide some support at guard.
“Big, smart, tough guy, versatile,” Lions general manger Martin Mayehw said, according to MLive.com. “We think he could play four positions. The guy is a three-year starter in a good program. A good, solid offensive lineman. We came into this draft thinking we need to try to add some young players to that group, and Riley certainly fits that mold.”
Detroit currently holds two picks on Friday, which will span the second and third rounds. Detroit has the No. 54 overall pick (Round 2) and the No. 85 selection.