The Detroit Lions 2019 draft class was questionable at best. By the end of this season, Bob Quinn could look like a genius, or on his way to being fired.
Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn made some surprising picks throughout the NFL Draft last week. Beyond the questions about first round pick T.J. Hockenson (tight end from Iowa), every subsequent choice was underwhelming in some way.
To be fair, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay was pretty praiseworthy of the Hockenson pick. McShay believed the Detroit Lions showed patience and got a top-6 prospect at pick number eight.
Hopefully, Hockenson provides a great weapon for this offense. But the real questions begin with the Detroit Lions second round choice: Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai. Each of the three television broadcasts (ESPN, NFL Network, ABC) seemed surprised by the pick when it happened.
Like most picks involving Detroit, the television analysis was short and the goal was to move on to something else (or at the very least a commercial break). This seems to apply with every Lions choice (and really any year of watching the draft), but it was particularly clear with the choice of Jahlani.
“The general consensus that I got was: ‘yeah, he was over-drafted.’ But one person told me that Tavai would not have been there on Day 3. He probably wouldn’t have been there for the Lions third round pick. You know, the Patriots probably would have taken him.”
The idea of ‘over-drafting’ is always an upsetting concept, especially in the second round of the draft. If the Detroit Lions truly got a starter for the next ten years at the position, then the pick is acceptable (at the very least competent).
But there are questions as to whether or not Jahlani will even start this year, which would be a really bad look for a team in need of talent at the linebacker position. Changing the culture of this team is very important moving forward, and Birkett seemed to believe that the choice of Tavai represented exactly that (04-29-19):
“That’s what the Lions [want to] be. They want people that football is the most important thing in their life. Because they think that’s going to make them [want to] play in this system. That’s [going to] make them put up with all the tough times that they have in the NFL … ”
If you go and listen to the audio, Birkett doesn’t sound that convinced that the Detroit Lions ideas are going to pan out the way they think. The idea is sound enough. Commitment to the game will mean commitment to playing within the system. Disciplined play that won’t be all that flashy, but will provide winning football.
But is Detroit missing out on bigger talents along the way? It is hard to know where this team is headed right now. The Detroit Lions may have upgraded their roster in some places, but it is unclear if they missed on some prospects that could have a bigger impact.
This draft really shows a commitment to going after guys that fit their system. It could mean looking really smart this December, if this team is making a playoff run (or by some miracle leading the division). But if there is a repeat of last season and this team is looking to squeeze out a few more meaningless wins just to satisfy ownership (and screw up the 2020 draft in the process), where does that leave this franchise?
Another bad season may not seal the fate of Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia. But if this draft is bad, it will have a lasting effect on the roster. This team may not recover for another five years, maybe even another decade.