3 years later: Re-evaluating the Detroit Lions’ 2016 draft class
Miles Killebrew, S/LB
Selected: Fourth round / pick #13 (111th overall)
School: Southern Utah
Position: Safety / Linebacker
Career statistics: 48 games, 3 starts, 2 Int, 1 TD
Current status: Competing for roster spot as Lions’ backup linebacker
One of the most frustrating selections on this list, Killebrew has been at times explosive and in turn maddening in his three seasons. As he continues to try to carve out a role on defense, while experiencing a last-ditch position change that may have saved his career, the jury remains out on the former Thunderbird.
Built like a tank, Killebrew flashed some bone-crushing hitting ability and occasional good instincts through parts of his rookie season and early into 2017, but it didn’t last. Way too often, Killebrew was out of position and oblivious to oncoming blocks that sent him to the turf. It wasn’t working, and his snaps were dwindling. He managed to stay on the roster in 2018, but played exclusively on special teams.
Under Patricia, Killebrew underwent a positional switch to more of a hybrid linebacker role, saving him from having to cover too much of the deep parts of the field. While it remains to be seen whether this can help him become more of a contributor on defense, he stands as one of the team’s most dependable special teams players.
Killebrew performed well in the the Lions’ opening preseason loss to the New England Patriots last Thursday, but he still has a ways to go before he gains the coaching staff’s trust. In a crowded linebacker room, Killebrew’s best path to the 53-man roster in 2019 may still be as a stalwart on the third phase. He’ll be a key player to follow as the preseason continues.