Following his pre-draft presser on Thursday, Detroit Lions’ general manager Bob Quinn hinted that offensive line could once again be a high draft priority.
The Detroit Lions own the eighth overall selection in the quickly approaching 2019 NFL Draft. And of all the names fans would love to hear the Lions announce next Thursday night during the first round, there are two positions most would seem to prefer they avoid. Those being tight end and offensive line.
The Lions have infamously whiffed on two previous first-round tight end selections fairly recently, so the hesitation of doing so again is understandable. And under current general manager Bob Quinn, who took the reins of the franchise in 2016, two of his three first-round picks have been offensive lineman. And the jury is still out on both of them.
To use a top ten selection on the offensive line for which the team has invested so much in already could be viewed as wasteful. But it would be justified. Detroit certainly has a glaring need at right guard after two-time Pro Bowler T.J. Lang decided to retire after the Lions released him earlier this year.
Although there are several in-house options to fill the position, Quinn has shown he is unafraid of public perception and is willing to go against the grain. And clearly, the offensive line has been a major focus during his short tenure. And it has now emerged as a high draft priority once again.
"“It’s a position we’ve studied really hard. I think our offensive line coaches were out more this year than in previous years. We’ll kind of see how that goes but there’s good depth at that position from the first round all the way to I’d say the fifth and sixth rounds.”"
Based on the above statement, it appears to be a pretty safe bet that the Lions will address their offensive line needs within the first four rounds.
Of the talented offensive lineman that are expected to be available when the Lions number is called early in the first round, Alabama’s Jonah Williams seems like a likely target for Quinn and company.
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein compared Williams’ play to that of Pro Bowl Atlanta Falcon offensive tackle Jake Matthews. The 6-foot-4, 302-pound junior was a three-year starter for the Crimson Tide and projects to be an instant plug-n-play at the next level. Williams looks to be an excellent pass protector with a great foundational base, having polished techniques and possessing a work ethic that made him successful on the brightest stage in college football.
In Detroit, Williams could also be a potential replacement for starting left tackle Taylor Decker if the Lions opt to move on from the former first rounder next year.
Jonah Williams is likely one of the safest picks in this year’s draft class. Although it’s not the sexiest selection considering the Detroit Lions are choosing in the top ten, it does fill a need with a player many believe will be a quality long-term starter in the NFL.