In 2016, the Lions hired former New England Patriots’ director of college scouting, Bob Quinn, as general manager. Despite an impressive background with one of the premier organizations in all of sports, Quinn had to prove he was not just another overrated Bill Belichick disciple.
A year later, Quinn has the Lions in position to become the favorites in a very competitive NFC North division. An unexpected playoff berth after Calvin Johnson’s abrupt retirement is giving fans confidence that owner Martha Firestone Ford has found the right guy to build this team.
Now, don’t get me wrong, a 9-7 season doesn’t suddenly make the Lions a championship contender by any means. However, when you look at the dozens of successful moves Bob Quinn has already made, it’s not unwarranted to think this team will build upon his successful first season as Lions GM.
Bob Quinn’s Notable Moves Thus Far
- Signed Marvin Jones to replace Calvin Johnson (career-high 930 rec. yards).
- Signed veteran Anquan Boldin (led team in touchdowns with eight).
- Kept Jim Caldwell as head coach (second playoff appearance in 3 years).
- Very successful first draft (Mel Kiper bumps to a B+).
- Added depth in draft and free agency (Tavon Wilson, Graham Glasgow, Joe Dahl).
- Signed former Packers Pro-Bowl guard T.J. Lang in free agency.
- Signed right tackle Rick Wagner (arguably the best RT on the market).
As we can see above, Quinn puts a lot of thought into every transaction, and for the most part, those moves have been extremely effective. The biggest weakness last year was the offensive line and Quinn found two likely starters in rounds one and three of the 2016 Draft. He upgraded the secondary with cheap, but effective bargain bin players like Rafael Bush — a safety that played well and plugged a need last year (31 tackles, 2 INT, 1 sack).
The real test comes in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. There are plenty of options, but most think Quinn will target the defensive side of the ball, after investing so heavily in the offensive line last year. Yes, he made some controversial comments about Joe Mixon not being at the combine, but many agreed with the point he was making.
Most predicted a 3rd or 4th place finish for Detroit in the NFC North last season, however, the Lions were just a Week 17 win against the Packers away from their first division title since 1993. They fell short, eventually losing in the Wild Card round to the Seattle Seahawks. Yet, even the most optimistic of fans didn’t think this team was a legit contender going into last year.
Now, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, because one 9-7 season won’t matter if the team regresses in 2017. Judging by Quinn’s work thus far, there’s no reason to believe they won’t continue to improve. Detroit has had the best free agency period of the four NFC North teams thus far, but they can become division favorites with another successful draft.