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Detroit Lions : 2017 NFL Draft Recap

Hello Motor City,

Detroit has been rockin’ the last few years while they progressed into the playoffs twice out of the past three seasons. Many wrote off the Lions when one of their all-time great players in Calvin Johnson Jr. retired last off-season, but if anything it made Matthew Stafford and the offense around him step up and play at a higher level. Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter has revolutionized this offense into a high octane passing team that gives opposing defensive coordinators headaches to game-plan against. It’s truly amazing what Jim and Stafford have been able to accomplish together with the limited play-makers and a sub-par running game. On the flip side of the ball, the defense was average and struggled to contain high powered offenses and had a record of 0-5 to other playoff team throughout the regular season. Seems as if Detroit doesn’t have to worry about the offense as long as Matthew Stafford is at quarterback, but they need to address their defense if they want to stay any sort of relevant heading into the post-season. Did general manager Bob Quinn take the wheel and get the necessary equipment to stay in the playoff race or did he coast to the finish line on a flat tire? Let’s accelerate and get right to it.

-1st Round, Pick #21: Jarrad Davis – Linebacker (Florida)

  • Seems like the Lions have been recycling through linebackers on a yearly basis. DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch were the main duo to most in recent memory, but no longer with the team and Tahir Whitehead has come along quite nicely to be a regular starter. Before the draft I was on record to say that Ziggy Ansah needed a pass rushing side kick and he got just that. Jarrad is a very versatile linebacker that will contribute day one for this defense and will help out tremendously in the middle of the field. Jarrad also seems to be a natural born leader on and off the field and will keep peace in the locker room while having everyone focused on the task ahead. Jarrad is a phenomenal player and will be a well needed stud for Detroit’s defense. Looks like the Lions will have some sort of stability among their linebackers again for the long run.

-2nd Round, Pick #53: Jalen “Teez” Tabor – Cornerback (Florida)

  • We all know what big play Darius Slay can do, but who is his sidekick on the opposite side? That title is still up in the air and will be a well-fought battle during training camp as well as the pre-season. Being a second round selection, Teez should be one of the top names to be mentioned to earn that role opposite Darius, but he’ll have a steep hill to climb going up against veterans Quandre Diggs, DJ Hayden, Johnson Bademosi, and two year starter Nevin Lawson. Despite the stiff competition Teez will be enduring throughout the remaining course of summer, he’ll be in play for early playing time and a chance for an important role within the secondary. It is a passing league after all and you can never have enough pass defenders, especially when Detroit has to play the likes of Aaron Rodgers twice a year.

-3rd Round, Pick #96: Kenny Golladay – Wide Receiver (Northern Illinois)

  • Anquan Boldin and Andre Roberts were both on a one-year deal and neither was resigned and outside of Marvin Jones and Golden Tate in the wide receiver core, no other receiver on the current roster had more than five receptions in the whole regular season last year. Detroit desperately needed to find depth at the receiver position and grabbing 6’4″ receiver Kenny Golladay could surly benefit the lions. Kenny has strong hands and uses his lengthy arms to catch the ball over defenders. He was the best receiver on a good Northern Illinois team and had more than double the receptions than the next leading receiver. Kenny knows how to be the main guy for a team and if he can come in and contribute right away from the outside. Watch out NFC North, Marvin Jones and Kenny on the outside and Golden Tate in the slot could be a scary trio this upcoming season.

-4th Round, Pick #124: Jalen Reeves-Maybin – Linebacker (Tennessee)

  • Tennessee had a lot of good quality talent in the draft this year and Jalen is another name to add to that list. As stated earlier with Jarrad Davis, Detroit needed to gather some talent at the linebacker position. Jalen is small for his position standing at 6’0″ and sub 230 lbs, but we’ve seen “smaller” guys ignore the standard prototypical requirements at a certain position and just ball out. Jalen has the physical and mental traits to be a very good player, but he needs to bulk up his muscle and recover from his shoulder surgery. The 2017 season could be a redshirt like season for Jalen, but give him time to reach the the “desired” NFL size and recuperate from his shoulder injury and he could be a huge factor in the linebacking core along with Jarrad. Great pick here in the fourth round.

-4th Round, Pick #127: Michael Roberts – Tight End (Toledo)

  • Detroit was projected to grab a tight end in the first round by so many experts and that left me puzzled as to why. Eric Ebron has done a pretty decent job thus far and don’t understand the dislike towards him. Well, it’s not first round, but they did take a tight end in the draft. Michael is a very athletic tight end and is a lot better than what people give him credit for. Small school or not, he can flat out play some football. Michael had 16 receiving touchdowns on 45 receptions his senior year. I don’t know what you think, but scoring on almost 30% of your receptions is spectacular! This will be a great addition to the receiving core and a nice one-two punch at the tight end position.

-5th Round, Pick #165: Jamal Agnew – Cornerback (San Diego)

  • Despite the decent depth at the corner position, Detroit still needed to upgrade or add pieces to compete and make the current players play to their potential. Jamal won’t be making a case for an outside job on an island, but he will make a case for a slot or nickel corner role. He’s a quick and shifty guy that also isn’t afraid to get a little dirty and come up to stuff a hole in the run game. DJ Hayden currently is the starting nickel guy, but he’s had an inconsistent career thus far and is also a newcomer for the team. Don’t sleep on Jamal, he could shock if given the opportunity.

-6th Round, Pick #205: Jeremiah Ledbetter – Defensive End (Arkansas)

  • Ziggy Ansah needs a pass rushing partner on the opposite side of the defensive line, but you won’t find it with this selection as Jeremiah is more of a defensive tackle rather than a pass rushing end. He has experience playing both positions, however his frame and traits are just better suited as an interior defensive lineman. Most sixth rounders aren’t highly anticipated to make the final roster, but his versatility could serve him well and make a run at the final 53 man roster. Detroit needed depth on the defensive line and Jeremiah may not be an all-star, but he’s a solid versatile player that will fill a rotational void.

-6th Round, Pick #215: Brad Kaaya – Quarterback (Miami-FL)

  • The only other quarterback on the roster outside of Matthew Stafford is Jake Rudock. It’s always a risk to have your back-up field general have zero playing time in a regular season NFL game, but it won’t be the first nor the last time a team will do so. I personally liked the selection because Brad showed flashes of being a good quarterback and he has the physical tools to stick around a roster and win a few games if need be. The Lions will probably keep two total quarterbacks on the roster, so Jake and Brad will duke it out against each other in pre-season for the final quarterback spot behind Matthew Stafford. It’ll be an interesting battle, but let’s not forget Brad was once projected to go as early as the third round at one point, so I anticipate Brad as the early favorite based on his athleticism and play-making ability.

-7th Round, Pick #250: Pat O’Connor – Defensive End (Eastern Michigan)

  • Detroit has added players like Cornelius Washington, Akeem Spence and Armonty Bryant, among others, the last couple of years to try and give Ziggy that sidekick. We’ll see if any of them can fill the much needed void, but if not Pat could be the edge rusher Detroit has been looking for. He’s got great burst off the line and it showed on his way to 28.5 tackles for a loss the past two seasons. We’ll find out if he was just a big boy dominating against smaller kids or if he’s the real deal. As usual though, Pat is a seventh round pick and surely doesn’t have to high of expectations right away, but he can bulk up, learn the system and work his way up the pecking order until he has a solidified role among the defensive line. Good pick with better potential.

There it is the checkered flag! We’ve reached the end of this run, so how did the Detroit Lions do? Well, they acquired some much needed position depth that will be day one starters or compete for an important role somewhere along the roster. Did Detroit do enough to continue competing with the rest of their division? That is to be determined, but they’re transcending in the right direction and giving fans hope for a successful future and something to look forward to each and every year. Until next time, have a great day!

-Austin Thomas

 


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