By Nick Shepkowski-
(CBS) He’s the best defensive tackle in the NFL in just his second season in the league. He’s as intimidating of force as you’ll find. He’s been known to toss 6’3”, 225 pound quarterbacks around as if they were rolled up newspapers.
He’s Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and he’s my favorite player in the NFL to watch play. You won’t find a bigger fan of Ndamukong Suh than myself…or so I thought.
Jemele Hill of ESPN.com wrote a piece yesterday that makes my appreciation for Ndamukong seem more like my appreciation of the CTA.
Hill goes as far as saying that Ndamukong Suh is the best draft pick in the history of the Detroit Lions because of how much hope he has brought the organization.
She adds: “Suh isn’t just a better draft pick than Sanders because he might be the next Reggie White or, worst-case scenario, the next Warren Sapp. It’s because Suh already seems to have done something Sanders never could: He’s changed the Lions’ losing culture or, at least, been the most important catalyst in that change.”
Don’t get me wrong, she’s entirely correct in suggesting despite an NFC Championship Game appearance in 1991, the Lions were never projected to do much during Sanders’ reign in the Silverdome. Barry Sanders was arguably the best running back of all-time and to blame discredit him because the powers that be failed to put any talent around him is absurd.
As fun as Suh is to watch and as much up a nightmare he can be to game-plan against, you can argue he’s not even the most important draft pick on the Lions current roster.
Going the entire article sighting all the love for Ndamukong Suh but not giving any to Calvin Johnson is an absolute shame.
Suh has two sacks on the young season but more importantly has again been dominant against the run and helped in allowing more one-on-one pairings for Kyle Vanden Bosch who leads the Lions with three sacks.
Calvin Johnson getting thrown to by a healthy Matthew Stafford is the reason the Lions are 4-0, however. Johnson is the first player in NFL history to record multiple touchdown receptions in the first four games of a season, a number that very possibly could grow as the Lions host the Bears and their questionable secondary on Monday night. Through the first four weeks of the NFL season, you make a respectable argument that Calvin Johnson is the NFL’s MVP.
Johnson was in his second year in the league when the Lions suffered the worst season in NFL history, an 0-16 showing in 2008. He’s since turned into an experienced veteran and arguably the best wide receiver in the entire league.
Think his attitude and want to win only comes solely from Ndamukong Suh being around? I’d bet against it.
Ndamukong Suh was put in a perfect position to succeed and be a hero in Detroit. His team features an offense offering both Johnson and Matthew Stafford at quarterback; both players who have proved worthy of being selected with a first second overall picks in 2007 and 2009, respectively. Other first round talent such as Jahvid Best and Brandon Pettigrew have produced as well.
Suh is paired on a defensive line with aforementioned Kyle Vanden Bosch who was a major free agent acquisition for Detroit before last season.
Yes, Suh has performed above and beyond what expectations were when he was selected second overall out of Nebraska in 2010, but credit is due in other places than just the defensive tackle position.
Martin Mayhew was named general manager of the Lions after their infamous 0-16 campaign in 2008 and deserves credit in helping turn the organization around.
While Suh may get the majority of the publicity, Mayhew was responsible for signing the likes of Kyle Vanden Bosch and the reliable Nate Burleson (who would sadly probably be the Bears best receiver) while also drafting guys like Jahvid Best and Brandon Pettigrew.
It’s kind of scary to think we haven’t seen the Lions with two of his prized possessions of the 2011 draft: DT Nick Fairley and RB Mike Leshoure.
Ndamukong Suh is one helluva fine football player who will end up in Canton if he continues to play at the level he has been able to early on in his career and provides a great sound bite on a regular basis.
Ndamukong Suh isn’t the savior of the Detroit Lions; credit deserves to be given to the talent around him and the man ultimately responsible for putting it there, Martin Mayhew.
Can you imagine if someone who actually drafted well, based on team need was in charge of the Bears personnel?
Chicagoans can only dream.
Follow Nick Shepkowski on Twitter (@Shep670).