A lot has been made of Detroit Lions GM Bob Quinn’s drafting history following the draft. His supporters think people should have faith in his draft strategy and point out picks like Kenny Golladay and Kerryon Johnson. While his detractors point out picks like Teez Tabor and Jimmy Landes as reasons why to not fully trust him.
With some questioning his selections from this year’s draft and national pundits not giving him the highest remarks recently, the debate has been heated.
Let’s take a dive into his three previous classes to see which side is right.
Game Changers/Impact Starters: None
None the players drafted in 2016 are true impact starters who opposing teams have to game plan around.
Starters: Taylor Decker (1st), A’Shawn Robinson (2nd), Graham Glasgow (3rd)
Quinn’s inaugural draft class started off well as he selected three starters with his first three picks. Taylor Decker has yet to develop into an above average starter after a solid rookie season, but left tackle was a huge need for the team, and even average left tackles are valuable in today’s pass happy league. For three years, A’Shawn Robinson was an okay starter, but he blossomed last year next to Damon Harrison. If he keeps his play up, he could enter free agency as one of the better run stuffers in the league. Graham Glasgow was a great value in the third round. He started year one at guard and has been even better at center.
Backups/Spot Starters: Joe Dahl (5th), Anthony Zettel (6th)
Joe Dahl was a project combing out of pass happy Washington State. He has value as a backup guard who can play some tackle in a pinch. Anthony Zettel had a solid start to his career, but his inability to defend the run made him a poor fit in the Patricia’s defense.
Special Teams/Bottom of Roster: Miles Killebrew (4th), Antoine Williams (5th), Jake Ruddock (6th), Dwayne Washington (7th)
Miles Killebrew also had a strong start to his career as a sub package defender. Since then, he has regressed and been relegated to purely special teams. Antoine Williams and Dwayne Washington have been career special teamers, and both are not on the Lions anymore. Finally, Jake Ruddock spent one year as the backup QB, but this past year he was supplanted by
50 36 year old, Matt Cassel.
What were they thinking: Jimmy Landes (6th)
There is no possible way to defend drafting a long snapper. Especially one who doesn’t even make the team.
Overview: The 2016 draft class was a relatively weak one, but getting three average to good starters is pretty solid. The issue with this draft class is 5 of the 7, day three picks are not on the Lions, and none have really made an impact anywhere in the league.
2017 NFL Draft:
Game Changer/Impact Starters: Kenny Golladay (3rd)
Kenny Golladay struggled with a hamstring injury his rookie year which cost him five games. He broke out in a big way his sophomore season with 1,063-yards and five touchdowns and plenty of amazing plays. He has shown all the tools to be a true WR1 in the league for years to come.
Starters: Jarrad Davis (1st)
Jarrad Davis struggled mightily his first half of his rookie season at middle linebacker. Since then, he has been able to continuously improve. He still has deficiencies in pass coverage and diagnosing plays. To hide him on passing downs, the Lions used him as a pass rusher where he played well and had six sacks. I am a believer in Davis as he is still young and one of the hardest workers on the team, and I think he will keep getting better especially with Damon Harrison and A’Shawn Robinson eating up blocks in front of him.
Backups/Spot Starters: Jamal Agnew (5th)
Jamal Agnew started his career of with a bang by returning a punt for a touchdown in the season opener. He was an All-Pro Punt Returner his rookie year and dynamic on special teams.
There have been some flashes at nickleback, but with the acquisition of Justin Coleman, he will likely only play in dime packages.
Special Teams/Bottom of Roster: Jalen Reeves-Maybin (4th), Michael Roberts (4th), Brad Kaaya (6th), Jeremiah Ledbetter (6th), Pat O’Connor (7th)
None of these players have contributed to the Lions in any way. Jalen Reeves-Maybin had the biggest impact as a career special teamer. Michael Roberts has been a large disappoint after failing to get playing time despite a putrid TE group ahead of him. The pick becomes even worse when you realize George Kittle was taken 20 picks after him. The rest, Kaaya, Ledbetter, and Connor, have bounced around various practice squads.
What were they thinking: Teez Tabor (2nd)
Since entering the league, Teez Tabor has arguably been the worst corner in the league. When throwing at Tabor last year, quarterbacks had a perfect passer rating. Corners often need time to transition to the pros, but until proven otherwise, he has the honor of being a worse pick than a long snapper.
Overview: The Tabor pick is obviously the most talked about pick of this class for good reason. Besides him, the Lions got a steal in Golladay and to a lesser degree Agnew. Davis has had an up and down career but looks like at least an average starter. Outside of them, only Maybin is still on the team, and it is far from a guarantee he makes the team in 2019.
Game Changer/Impact Starters: Kerryon Johnson (2nd),
Kerryon Johnson had a dynamic rookie year and revitalized the Lions running game. He is a threat running between the tackles, running outside, and catching the ball out of the backfield. The only thing preventing him from being a 1,000 yard rusher will be his troubling injury concerns.
Starters: Frank Ragnow (1st), Tracy Walker (3rd) Da’Shawn Hand (4th)
Frank Ragnow started from day one at left guard for the Lions. After some initial struggles as a rookie, he was able to finish strong. He looks to be a road grader in the run game and should be a good starter for a long time. In the third, the Lions chose unknown safety Tracy Walker. After getting limited snaps, he slowly wrestled the starting safety spot away from Glover Quin. He flies around the field and made some amazing plays on the football. It will be exciting what he will do with a whole off season next to Quandre Diggs.
I was close to putting Da’Shawn Hand in the game changer category because I think he will have a huge 2019. He had a big 2018 recording one of the highest PFF grades for rookie defenders. He is a great athlete for a big man and could continue to get even better which is a scary thought for quarterbacks.
Backups/Spot Starters: Tyrell Crosby (5th)
Tyrell Crosby fell to the fifth round after being thought of as a potential second round player. He was the backup tackle and got some playing time when Rick Wagner went down. He played well for a late round rookie, and there are definitely tools to develop. While he played tackle, this year, he will also be competing for the starting spot at right guard. Entering the draft, some thought he might be better at guard where he can use his impressive power.
Incomplete: Nick Bawden (7th)
Nick Bawden tore his ACL in training camp but will compete to make the roster as a fullback this year.
Overview: Bob Quinn mentioned it is easier to draft for Matt Patricia’s defense due to his experience scouting for it, and it showed with this small class. Both the defensive picks had strong rookie seasons and could prove to be building blocks for the defense. On offense, the Lions got two above average starters who the Lions will build their running game around. Crosby, the lone non-starter, has developmental potential and has a chance to start in 2019.
Overall, Bob Quinn’s first two drafts were fairly average. He has drafted plenty of starters which is great but has also missed out on elite pieces needed for high-end success. No general manager is perfect though. Important to note, he was drafting for a different style of defense than he was used to while in New England. In saying this, those ill-fitted players haven’t found success elsewhere either.
However, the 2018 looks to be great with the potential to be great if Johnson stays healthy and Walker, Hand, and Ragnow continue to develop — which have been an issue with previous draft years.
The 2019 class should be a good indicator of Bob Quinn’s ability. If it is similar to 2016 and 2017, the detractors will continue to get louder, and his seat could start to heat up. If it close to the 2018 class, he will have proven that he is a skilled drafter, and the Lions should be in contention for the playoffs.