For reference, here is the pre-draft overview for QB and OL.
No additions and that’s a good thing. The Lions already have a great QB room and did not need to add any developmental guys via the Draft when they have so many other needs. The ownership group killed any thought of Tua or Herbert back in December, so fans who thought picking Tua was a possibility just are not in tune with this team or the dynamics associated with quarterback development.
Outlook: Still Strong. Matthew Stafford is still a Top 10 QB who was playing at a Top 3 level last season before injury. They added one of the best backup QBs in the NFL in Chase Daniel. There should be some camp arms looking for tape for other teams, but they have almost no chance of making the roster. This group is set.
While they will still likely give Tyrell Crosby a shot, the Lions moves to me look like they want Crosby to stay in the swing tackle role for one more season. They added no tackles via the Draft and added two guards to an already crowded interior offensive line (but two needed additions). Taylor Decker, Big V and Crosby will be their active, game day offensive tackles. Skipper will be in another training camp fight to hold on to that 4th tackle spot, which will be inactive unless there is an injury.
Outlook: Still Average. Decker is an average left tackle, and we don’t know what Big V will be. Crosby is a solid backup tackle as well. Not the best group in the world, but also not a group I’ m actively worried about.
The Lions were just as aware as I was that their Guard situation was dire. So they made sure to double dip here, trading a 5th rounder to come up and grab Jonah Jackson (oSU) in the 3rd round, and then in the 4th round, trading back, and getting a 5th back as they grabbed Logan Stenberg (UK). I expect both rookies to start.
Jackson will be the starter at left guard. He is an outstanding pass blocker, arguably the best pass protecting guard in the Draft. He plays with great bend, leverage and consistently getting good punch. He’s pretty mediocre in the run game and can be overwhelmed by more talented defensive tackles, but he is smart and capable, and gets to the second level. Overall, he’s a smart, heady and aware player and hopefully with Decker to the left, and Frank Ragnow to the right, they will be able to help him mitigate any issues in the run game.
Stenberg will take the right guard spot. He’s the polar opposite of Jackson. He’s a big, mean mauler who roots interior defensive linemen out of the ground in the run game. He’s also more mobile than he looks as he pulls pretty well, and does a good job identifying someone to hit when he does. He’s not the technician that Jackson is and he’s going to have to clean up some of those issues. Because he’s so strong, he does not always play with great leverage, and that will be exploited by NFL DTs if he does not fix that. He also isn’t great against really quick interior players he can’t get his hands on in the passing game, which is why I think he would be better suited to play on Stafford’s right as opposed to his left. But both of these guys are better than the guards the Lions had penciled in. I would have preferred they gotten Ben Bredeson (MICH) with one of the picks, as he is a technician like Jackson but has a lot of the mentality of Stenberg (a more balanced version of the two), but I’m good with this haul. It will be up to Ragnow to get the new guys up to speed on the interior, but they are plenty talented enough.
Outlook: SLIGHTLY ABOVE Average. Massive improvement here. I may even be being a bit conservative because we will be starting two rookies. If they can at least be league average guards, and Ragnow takes that next step, this unit is actually quite a bit above average and will both help keep Stafford healthy , and improve the run game massively. They now also have the opportunity to have solid depth. The battle for the two backup inside spots should be interesting and intense.
For reference, here is the pre-draft preview for the skill position players.
They did not select one even on Day 3, but they did sign an UDFA that I though would be drafted in Hunter Bryant (WASH). Bryant and Isaac Nauta will battle for a spot in training camp, as in going back over the Lions roster, I think they will only keep 3 TEs this year. The 4th they will probably stash on the practice squad, as if they are using TEs as much as they claim to want to, they will need to have 1-2 they trust past the two starters.
Outlook: Still Above Average.
This group went from being mediocre and troubling to really good in one weekend. They did pass on Jonathan Taylor, my #1 RB, but they got the #1A RB, DeAndre Swift (UGA) in this class so I’m good. Swift and Kerryon is as good a duo (if Kerryon is healthy) as there is in the NFL and having both will allow you to keep each fresh and under 200 carries. Swift is a 3 down back who runs with power, speed, burst and great balance. He’s a nightmare in the open field. Actually, he’s a nightmare even in tight spaces. He embarrassed several safeties and linebackers on tape by with this ability to shift and cut on a dime. He’s going to be a really good NFL running back that does everything well and the sky is the limit for him.
The Lions doubled down at RB with Jason Huntley (NMST). He seems to be a carbon copy of Ty Johnson on first glance. However, upon a quick review of tape, you see a more physical and shifty runner in Huntley. He’s not just a speed demon, he has natural run instincts and a strong propensity to break tackles:
That was second in college to only Travis Etienne (CLEM) who will likely be the #1 RB selected next year.
He and Johnson will have an intense battle for that 3rd down RB spot, and Jamal Agnew may have to win his roster spot solely on his CB merits, as Huntley adds yet another player with dynamic return capabilities to the roster.
This was the worst pick of the draft for the Lions. And that’s not a knock on Quintez Cephus (WISC) at all. I had him going around here or maybe even slightly higher. He’s certainly an upgrade on Travis Fulgham and Chris Lacy. He’s going to be a good special teams player. He’s going to be a good outside run blocker who can give Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones a breather on running downs. He is big, strong, a solid route runner, and has strong hands. He wins at the catch point. He’s going to be a solid player and the value for where he was selected is good.
- He doesn’t make Golladay better. When you are building a receiver corps for the future, you need complementary parts. The Raiders supplemented the speedy Henry Ruggs (BAMA) with a physical outside threat in Bryan Edwards (USC – Gamecocks) and a shifty slot guy in Lynn Bowden (UK). Golladay is a long, physical outside receiver who is at his best winning on intermediate routes on the outside. A good complement to Golladay would be shiftier guy in the slot who can take away LB or S help, or an outside guy with speed who can take the top off the defense and give him more room to operate with. Cephus is neither.
- This was a DEEP draft for receivers. James Proche (SMU) and KJ Hill (oSU) were both still on the board. Both are slippery, highly productive receivers. Neither has blazing speed, but both run outstanding routes and know how to create separation. Or if you want to gamble you can grab a guy like Quez Watkins (SOMISS) who has serious speed, and play making ability. Or maybe just take the most athletic receiver in the draft, Donovan Peoples-Jones (UMICH). All were on the board. All are better potential #3 or even #2 receivers to complement Golladay. They took Cephus instead. IT seems like Quinn just wanted to grab the guy he knew would be a good #4 as opposed to grabbing guys who can do that and possibly be more.
Outlook: Still Average. Cephus does upgrade the #4 spot but not enough to move te needle. Overall it’s a decent group of guys, especially if we become the strong running team we look like we can become.
Here is what I said Pre-Draft:
“The Lions currently have a stud, Top 10 QB but a very disappointing offensive line with just 2 players I could say I’m confident in. This is disappointing after all the resources that have been poured into it the last few years. The Lions must use Day 2 to address this issue, specifically in the middle of the line or we can expect this to be another disappointing season.“
“The Lions need a talent infusion at receiver and running back, and luckily this draft aligns well for the Lions to do so. They need to address running back early on Day 2 either with their own second round pick, or the 2nd they get if they trade down (more on that later). Receiver will likely need to wait until the 3rd or 4th round so they can fix their deficiencies on the offensive and defensive line, but the depth of this receiver class will push some really talented guys to late Day 2 and early Day 3 where the Lions can take advantage. This draft is ripe for the taking here.“
Quinn are you reading this blog ???? If so let me know !
The Lions clearly saw the needs on offense the same way that I did. And they got good value with each selection to address their issue. The Cephus pick was the only one on offense I didn’t think was strong. If that is really my biggest quibble out of the Lions draft weekend, they must have done a good job. And they did. They significantly strengthened their interior OL and RB groups, two units that looked poised to be bad this year if they did not. The entire offense looks poised to build off of their early season success last year and look more like the balanced, run-first team that Quinn promised to deliver. Good job .