Daniel Bullocks was drafted by former Lions president and general manager Matt Millen, whose draft record was less than spectacular. (Robin Buckson / The Detroit News)
Allen Park -- The release of Lions safety Daniel Bullocks on Thursday wiped clean the slate of the worst five-year stretch of drafting in NFL history.
From 2002 through 2006, the Lions drafted 39 players -- five of whom were taken in the top 10 picks. Bullocks represented the last remaining player on the roster from that stretch of drafting by former president and general manager Matt Millen that ultimately set the franchise back who knows how far.
Current Lions general manager Martin Mayhew, who took over for Millen when he was fired in September 2008, was recently asked how the franchise stands today, as opposed to when he took over for Millen.
"I think we are a much better football team. I think we are a much better organization. It's not me; I think we've done it collectively. We have come a long way," he said. "Obviously, the talent level has improved. We've had two good drafts. There is a lot of work for those guys to still do to prove that, but we are pleased with the process that we have with our drafts and we are pleased with the way these guys have developed so far."
That hasn't translated to victories on the field thus far, but there's a real sense from talking with players who outlasted Millen's reign, former players still hanging around Detroit and people within the organization that the Lions seem to be on the right path.
But let's not kid ourselves, there's still plenty of work to do.
The defense has been ranked near the bottom of the league in nearly every statistical category for the past three seasons and the team is still trying to find some resemblance of a running game.
But to see the picture as half-filled instead of half-empty; the Lions finally have experienced talent on either side of the ball. They've put together two good drafts, by all accounts. And all indications are that they've finally found a quarterback in Matthew Stafford who can be a cornerstone of the future.
"It's all measured in wins and losses and this season is going to be a big season for us," Mayhew said.
I'm sticking with my prediction of 6-10 for 2010, but if everyone stays healthy (especially Stafford), the defense comes together better than most people -- including myself -- anticipate and the Lions get a few breaks, could this team be looking at seven or eight wins? I'm just throwing it out there.
I'm not ready to go there quite yet, I'll wait till some more things play out in training camp, but players like Kyle Vanden Bosch and Nate Burleson, who have been on winning teams and know a thing or two about talented teams, have been glowing this offseason about the surprising level of talent on this team and a coaching staff that has a plan in place.