Lamorandier: Detroit Lions 2018 Draft Grades

The NFL Draft is complete and the Detroit Lions added six new rookies to their roster. Obviously, every player drafted was one of GM Bob Quinn‘s “guys” that were coveted by the organization. In saying this, it doesn’t mean we can’t analyze every individual decision.

Yes, grading players before they ever even step foot on an NFL field is rather pointless, but here are my thoughts on each selection.


Frank Ragnow, OC, Arkansas

Despite not receiving much pre-draft hype until the late stages, the Lions grabbed one of my favorite players in the entire class. Not only that, it also fills the biggest hole on the roster.

It’s hard to understand why Ragnow was so often pegged as only a day two pick leading up to the draft. You can try to poke holes in the selection, but it’s very difficult to find any flaws in his game. He is the complete package: elite athleticism, an elite pass blocker, elite in the run game, and appears to possess all the intangibles.

Ragnow had the highest floor and maybe even the highest ceiling of any of the remaining players on the board. The Lions could have used a pass rusher such as Harold Landry, but after learning of his medical concerns, it makes sense to go the safe route in the first. With six interior linemen taken in the first 40 selections and the Cincinnati Bengals all but a lock to draft Ragnow a pick after the Lions, Quinn looks like a genius in hindsight.




Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn

The Lions were in need of a potential feature running back and that is exactly what Johnson can be. It did come at the cost of their fourth-round pick this year in order to trade up ahead of the Washington Redskins though. It’s a somewhat tough pill to swallow when LSU running back, Derrius Guice, was still available. Due to character concerns, Guice apparently was not a fit in Detroit and the Redskins ended up with a nice consolation prize.

I will be honest and disclose that I was not high on selecting Johnson in the second round–especially when giving up valuable draft capital to do so. His very patient running style scares me a little without the Lions having a bunch of road graders up front.

The 6-foot, 213-pound junior is deceptively fast but not sudden or violent. Fortunately, we have seen other similar runners be very successful in the NFL.

Don’t get me wrong, Johnson has plenty of likable attributes including vision, pass protection, and reliable hands. I will give Quinn credit for making sure he didn’t come away empty-handed in the running back department.




Tracy Walker, S, Louisiana-Lafayette

Walker seemed to be a consensus day three selection, but after reports surfaced that the Carolina Panthers were ready to pull the trigger just a few picks later, Quinn snagged another player right before another team (that makes three steals in a row for those who aren’t counting).

Patricia used three safety sets as his base defense a year ago. Walker excelled in coverage and has the length teams covet. A perfect example would be his game tape against second-round draftee WR Christian Kirk and Texas A&M. He was a big reason Kirk was held to just 34-yards.

The Lions brass was visibly excited in their draft room after landing Walker– a testament to just how much they valued the safety. At the end of the day, safety wasn’t an immediate need, but you can never have enough cover guys in the NFL.

I don’t see Walker making an instant impact. Coming from a small school and being buried behind a solid safety group, this was a long-term move.

This pick feels very similar to the WR Kenny Golladay selection from a year ago.




Da’Shawn Hand, DT/DE, Alabama

Hand is the antithesis of Ragnow in terms of pre-draft hype and production. A top-rated recruit out of high school, Hand was never able to put it all together while at Alabama. He couldn’t consistently rush the passer and never flashed as a run stuffer either. Who knows, maybe those woes were scheme related.

The Lions also had to give up a 2019 third round pick in order to acquire him– a pretty costly trade-off if you ask me.

Being almost 300-pounds and running a 4.83 40-yard dash at the combine, this pick provides plenty of potential, but also a pretty low floor. At the very least, he appears to be an excellent match for Patricia’s defense.

Grabbing a big name at a position of need in the fourth round sounds like a perfect combination. Let’s just hope his former D-line coach at Alabama and now current line coach, Bo Davis, coupled with Patricia’s magic can bring out the best in him.




Tyrell Crosby, OT/G, Oregon

Talk about a steal. Many publications and mock drafts had Crosby as a top-5 tackle and a second or third round lock. Coming into Detroit, Crosby can probably immediately be the swing tackle and even move inside when necessary. He does not have any guard experience but does project well at the position.

Crosby’s last sack given up at the college level was in the fourth game of the 2015 season. Maybe not a great athlete, but that didn’t hold him back in pass protection.

His biggest strength is the power he brings in the run game. At this point in the draft, he was the best player available and solid depth with starter potential.

There are some injury concerns that could have played a role in his draft slip. He would not comment on how many concussions he has had.




Nick Bawden, FB, San Diego State

The former quarterback recruit is still relatively green at the fullback position, but that hasn’t stopped him from being the lead blocker to the last two leading rushers in the nation. Bawden was named a first-team All-American by Pro Football Focus in 2016.

With the dedication and resources Quinn has put towards strengthening the run game, it would appear a fullback is here to stay.

The 6-foot-2, 245-pound fullback continues the trend of versatile selections. Bawden has natural hands and athletic ability. In the seventh round, any player that can be labeled a starter is considered a win.




None of these players were really “sexy” picks, but the Lions didn’t require anything flashy. They needed help in the trenches and that’s exactly what they did.

The Lions improved their run game with four of their six selections. After having the worst rushing attack in the league last year, finding just a semblance of a run game will go a long way in 2018.

The remaining two selections went to the defensive side of the ball, yet neither will likely impact the Lions second biggest weakness– rushing the passer. Quinn only had six picks and there was realistically no way to upgrade every deficiency.

Staying true to his board, he selected the best players available and didn’t deviate from his plan. Quinn said it himself, there was a precipitous drop-off in pass rushing talent. There is no reason to reach for inferior players.

Remembering that an average grade is a “C,” Quinn compiled an above average draft that really should solidify the offensive side of the ball. Patricia has been known to make the best out of mediocre defensive talent. Give him a chance to prove his defensive philosophy can be successful with unheralded players.


Follow Lion Lowdown on Twitter @LionLowdown or Logan Lamorandier @LLamorandier

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