Detroit was honestly trying to figure out what kind of team they are. The new front office could have gone in many directions. The state of Michigan was on the edge of their seat waiting to see what kind of team they wanted to build. Bob Quinn made probably the safest draft in ten years for Detroit. Picking five lineman and no trades up, Quinn might have just satisfied the Detroit Lions and their fan base.
Here’s an overview of the Lions’ draft:
Round 1, 16th Overall: Taylor Decker, offensive tackle, Ohio State
Round 2, 46th Overall: A’Shawn Robinson, defensive tackle, Alabama
Round 3, 72nd Overall: Graham Glasgow, center, Michigan
Round 4, 111th Overall: Miles Killebrew, safety, Southern Utah
Round 5, 151th Overall: Joe Dahl, offensive tackle, Washington State
Round 5, 169th Overall: Antwione Williams, offensive lineman, Ga. Southern
Round 6, 191th Overall: Jake Rudock, quarterback, Michigan
Round 6, 202th Overall: Anthony Zettel, defensive end, Penn State
Round 6, 210th Overall: Jimmy Landes, long snapper, Baylor
Round 7, 236th Overall: Dwayne Washington, running back, Washington
Lions 2016 NFL Draft Grade: 8.5/10, B+
Detroit Lions 2016 NFL Draft Review
The Best Player: A’Shawn Robinson. He slid so far in the draft. There was buzz around Detroit when he wasn’t selected at 16th. Maybe teams didn’t think he was flashy enough with his pass rushing, only obtaining 3.5 sacks. In a system that didn’t have him rushing the passer often, he became the best run defender. Robinson uses his arms excellently with balances of speed and brute strength at the attack point. At 307 pounds, he’s surprisingly nimble. Alabama used him to edge rush occasionally as well. He makes it seem as if Detroit got two first round picks.
The Head-Scratcher: Jimmy Landes. The current long snapper for Detroit is 35 years old. Yeah, Don Muhlbach was burning such a hole in the pockets of the front office. The battle on special teams wins and loses quite a few games, so there’s some justification. But heading for a player who won’t get double digit snaps during a game when you still haven’t addressed cornerback or wide receiver? The team did just lose it’s best receiver, ever. No amount of weapons can replace Calvin Johnson, but certainly retooling the depleted receiving corps has to be a priority. Seemingly ignored, it simply wasn’t addressed in the draft. It seemed almost disrespectful to the local community as All-American Michigan State receiver Aaron Burbridge wasn’t selected. Burbridge would have been a steal for Detroit. Providing the Michigan native with a chance to play for his hometown team when they need wide receiver the most. Burbridge was selected three picks after Landes.
The Surprise: Watching Taylor Decker’s highlight role just brings smiles to Detroit. The All-American anchored an offensive line that averaged 245.2 rushing yards a game. He was liked by Detroit, having been brought in for separate meetings ahead of the draft. This draft featured uncertainty all around, players slipping and rising due to things happening that day. Detroit seems to have gotten exactly who they wanted too, using very little of the time after they came onto the clock. It was known what the Lions needed in this draft. The rookie general manager made the safest choice, and that’s surprising to Detroit die-hards.
Decker is a destroyer in the run blocking department. Which reveals the organization’s intent to recommit to the run game by the worst rushing unit in football last year. Decker brings a sense of tenacity that hasn’t been seen in the Lions offensive line for awhile now. The likely starting lineup for the Detroit front five will be one of the youngest ones in the league. Riley Reiff is the veteran of the group at 27. With such an inexperienced group, it provides instant improvements across the board.
The Steal: Miles Killebrew. Detroit had wonderful performances from two strong, in-the-box safeties last year in James Ihedigbo and Isa Abdul-Quddus last season. Killebrew looks to replicate that performance. His average coverage and ball tracking skills hindered his draft grades, but boy can he hit. He’s widely considered one of the biggest hitters in CFB. The hits dazzle. Detroit can use such a terror in it’s defense. But the most promising piece of his tape is his tackle form. He doesn’t compromise flair for form and delivers the strikes with consistency: 132 tackles last year. Killebrew fit the linebacker/safety hybrid position well in college and he could be destined to play a similar role with Detroit. A fourth round selection for someone who looks to be starting day one is a steal for Detroit.
Most Likely to Turn Heads in Training Camp: Jake Rudock. He transitioned well from Iowa to Michigan last season. This will prove to be valuable when learning the new position. But the reason he’ll be turning heads is that he provides Matthew Stafford with fighting competition. Stafford has been the franchise quarterback and regardless of how set his position is, it’s a kick in the rear to see another one drafted. Furthermore, this plays into the storyline of this being Stafford’s make-or-break year. Rudock can perform averagely and might have people calling for Stafford’s job. That’s what Rudock brings.
The Rest: Graham Glasgow was a safe selection. Putting pressure on the current center and bringing that new found Lions tenacity is the reason he was brought in. Reunited with his college quarterback, he could be an cornerstone piece in the Detroit future.
Dahl is greatly versatile, big enough to play on the interior line. He was graded as Pro Football Focus’s top pass protector in all of CFB. He’s a perfect depth selection that will fill any need across their board.
Antwione Williams was known as a consistent tackler, notching 107 tackles. He also had four sacks and four forced fumbles.
Anthony Zettel played all across the defensive line for Penn State. He even tackled a tree.
Dwayne Washington was Washington University’s offensive MVP in 2014. He’s 6’2”, 226lb and expected to compete for the roster spot with Zach Zenner.
The Bottom Line: This was a very safe and smart—on paper—draft for Detroit. They picked up five players for the trenches, filling the team’s top two needs. The front office played in Teryl Austin’s versatile defensive scheme, drafting defensive players that can play 2-4 positions. We also have seen Quinn’s draft style, showing safe and smarter choices. The team earns a great grade for this draft. They didn’t address the wide receiver or cornerback position which shows great confidence in the players they already have.