NFL.com dunks hard on Detroit Lions latest draft class
The league’s official website posted a ranking of the 2019 NFL Draft classes naming the Detroit Lions’ selections the third worst in the league.
When it comes to the latest draft class for the Detroit Lions, opinions seem split. The selection of tight end T.J. Hockenson in the first round may have drawn the ire from most Lions’ fans due to the Eric Ebron debacle, but the draft experts still believe the Iowa product was the best player at his position.
Most seem to believe third round safety Will Harris is set to be a solid player. And many are calling the selection of Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwariye in the fifth round a possible steal. But it is the second round pick of Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai that is drawing the most negative attention.
Although the Lions’ swear they did not believe Tavai would have lasted until the third round, drafting a linebacker with questionable speed, athleticism and coverage skills coming off a shoulder injury with the 43rd overall pick is highly suspect. And how this draft class will ultimately be graded likely relies on the play of Tavai.
As for how the Lions’ latest haul of rookies is being judged right now, two of the league’s draft experts recently ranked all 32 NFL teams, giving each a grade. Detroit received a C. NFL.com’s Gennaro Filice and Dan Parr posted the following explanation as to way the see the Lions’ draft class as the third worst in the league.
"“[Lions’ fans] just want to instinctively shout those three pejorative words: Same. Old. Lions. And when the franchise follows up a first-round tight end with a second-round linebacker NOBODY saw coming, the SOLs fly fast and furious. Look, Lions fans are wounded animals, following a franchise that’s logged one playoff win since 1957. Give them some space.”"
Much of Filice and Parr’s negative grade seems to come from the Lions’ first two selections, which is understandable as they are deemed the most impactful. Both Hockenson and Tavai should be instant starters at their respective positions come Week One. But there is little argument to be made that both selections come with numerous concerns.
Firstly, how impactful can a tight end be in the Lions’ offense? With Darrell Bevell now the offensive coordinator in Detroit, the Motor City figures to become a more run-heavy offense behind second-year phenom Kerryon Johnson. Hockenson was projected to be an elite run blocker coming out of college, so his impact could go far beyond his receiving numbers.
As for the selection of Tavai, this is all about scheme. Head coach Matt Patricia believes the young linebacker is the perfect fit for his multiple defensive scheme. So if Tavai is going to prove his doubters wrong, his best chance to do so is in Detroit.
The fact is, this isn’t the Same Old Lions. This is general manager Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia’s version of the Lions. More than it’s ever been. They’ve been tasked with changing the culture in Detroit and bringing a Super Bowl to the Motor City. And they drafted the players they believed were best suited to accomplish that goal. The win/loss column will be the ultimate judge.