The NFL Draft has come to an end, undrafted free agents are being signed and the Detroit Lions use a familiar concept to improve their roster.
Teams and fans have entered the long wait until football returns. The Detroit Lions have completed their draft and the majority of their free agency work as they have shaped their roster as best they can before the summer sun heats up the nation.
Football shall return in the fall. And with it, a bunch of competition for roster spots. The biggest surprise of the Lions draft wasn’t selecting tight end T.J. Hockenson; it was drafting a second tight end in the seventh round, Isaac Nauta. They join incumbents Jesse James, Michael Roberts and Logan Thomas at the position.
Now, Detroit’s struggles at the tight end position were highlighted throughout the year and into the offseason. That’s why the added a couple of free agents. But then they added two more draft picks. The room is crowded. And that’s just what Lions general manager Bob Quinn wants.
Remember when Quinn drafted a long snapper in the 6th round of the 2016 draft? The Lions had a very good veteran already on the roster in Don Muhlbach. What was he thinking? Why take a player when we already have a good one? And no, it wasn’t for depth.
His message was clear. Don’t get complacent. Competition brings out the best in every player because they are more likely to try harder and perform their best. Your job isn’t a given. You have to fight for it and get better every day.
The old saying “steel sharpens steel” comes to mind. And after the lack of success at tight end last season, some steel needs sharpening at that position. With five guys mentioned above and other tight ends not mentioned, Quinn isn’t leaving it to chance this year. He’ll have a couple of solid starters and depth at the position.
Other positions are getting the same treatment. Second-round pick, linebacker Jahlani Tavai will push last year’s starters. Third-round pick, defensive back Will Harris will do the same, and so on. While a lot of picks seem like needs, in the back of Quinn’s mind is the competition factor. He’s adding players that will push one another to be better, ultimately elevating the entire squad.
Some draft picks this year, like defensive end Austin Bryant and defensive tackle PJ Johnson, aren’t billed as day one starters. They might not crack the starting line up in 2019 or even in 2020. While that might be the hope of all fans for every pick, some picks are made to push the starters to be better. If they eventually supplant the starters and earn playing time, it’s a bonus. But the definitely aren’t busts.
This Detroit Lions draft by Quinn fumes with potential. It’s thick on roster depth. It’s got a solid outlook for two, possibly three, starters when football returns this fall. All that’s left to do is watch the minicamps and OTAs as we wait to see what these new additions can do when games finally kick off.