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Draft Day Blues

Andrew Owens | Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Growing up, spring meant many things to me: Little League baseball, another summer quickly approaching, March Madness and all its excitement, and the NFL Draft.

For 99 percent of NFL fans, the draft offers hope. The Falcons quickly turned around their franchise when they selected quarterback Matt Ryan (from our little brother out east) with the third overall pick in the 2008 Draft. The team won seven more games the next season and made the playoffs.

On the other end of the spectrum, the ineptitude of some teams each year on draft day simply continues the cycle of turmoil for a franchise. Selecting quarterback Tim Couch with the top overall pick will set your franchise back a couple years (if that is even possible for the Browns).

Unfortunately, the draft habits of my Detroit Lions tend to align with the latter.

Following a nightmarish 5-27 run during the 2001 and 2002 seasons, the Lions used their picks, third and second overall, respectively, to select the dynamic duo of Joey Harrington and Charles Rogers. There was finally some hope for football fans in Detroit. Harrington to Rogers would someday invoke as many memories as Aikman to Irvin does.

Unfortunately, Rogers’ collarbone did not hold up (nor did his resistance to drugs), and it quickly became apparent that the star Michigan State receiver would not produce in the NFL.

Although injuries weren’t Harrington’s problem, “Joey Blue Skies” also failed to bring respect to Detroit. During his four seasons quarterbacking the Lions, he threw 60 touchdowns compared to 62 interceptions.

It was not only the 2002 and 2003 drafts that general manager Matt Millen and the Lions front office failed miserably in. Of the nine first-round selections that Lions made from 2002-2009, only three are still on the roster: Calvin Johnson (2007), Gosder Cherilus (2008) and Matt Stafford (2009). The likes of Roy Williams, Kevin Jones, Mike Williams and Ernie Sims all find themselves on different rosters, while Harrington and Rogers are out of the league altogether.

Hopefully the Lions learned that picking wide receivers in the first round of four drafts in five years is not smart- especially for a team that has many glaring weaknesses.

My father and other relatives used to laugh at my high hopes for the Lions because “they will screw it up sooner or later.” I always attributed that outlook to them being “old and out of touch with modern day sports.” By that logic, at age 19, I am now also old and out of touch with modern day sports.

I used to anxiously anticipate draft day- it was a day of hope in an otherwise bleak year for the Lions. The feelings of hope have been replaced by expectations of failure for whoever is next to don the Honolulu blue and silver.