Entering his fifth year as the general manager of the Detroit Lions, Bob Quinn’s lack of high-quality draft successes has him on the brink of unemployment.
After years of mediocrity and underachieving, the Detroit Lions believed they could turn the tide of their struggling franchise under the watchful eye of a new executive in Bob Quinn. After years steeped in the winning culture that is the New England Patriots organization, Quinn became the Lions general manager in 2016.
Four years later and both Quinn and his choice for head coach, fellow ex-Patriot Matt Patricia, presumably have one last chance to prove their New England Midwest experiment can work. Following two back-to-back losing seasons under this duo, Lions ownership has mandated they make Detroit a playoff contender in 2020.
It’s a big ask considering the Lions are coming off their worst season in a decade. In 2018, Detroit went a disappointing 6-10 in Patricia’s rookie season. That following back-to-back 9-7 campaigns under former head coach Jim Caldwell. Last year, the Motor City dipped to a new low posting a 3-12-1 record, sending the franchise in the wrong direction.
While it’s Patricia that shoulders the biggest blame for the poor trajectory of the Lions, Quinn’s lack of draft and free agency successes also plays a massive role. The fate of these two men should and likely is tied together.
Here’s how Justin Rogers of The Detroit News responded recently to a mailbag question about Quinn’s inability to put together a competitive roster.
"“What you’re not seeing is star power, at least beyond [Kenny] Golladay. That’s problematic. I don’t know if that’s because Quinn has been too conservative in the early rounds or the coaching staff is doing a poor job of developing talent. Regardless, the entire operation, from acquisition to development, hasn’t been close to good enough.”"
When looking at the draft, we see a distinct lack of star players in the past four seasons. In fact, only one prospect drafted by the Lions during Quinn’s tenure has even earned a Pro Bowl bid.
That was cornerback Jamal Agnew, a 2017 fifth-rounder who was a Pro Bowl alternate as a special teams returner following his stellar rookie season. It certainly could be argued that 2017 third-round pick wide receiver Kenny Golladay deserved a Pro Bowl this past season after posting 65 receptions for 1,190 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Yet, first-rounders in tackle Taylor Decker, linebacker Jarrad Davis, center Frank Ragnow, and tight end T.J. Hockenson have all underachieved. And while their not draft busts by any stretch of the imagination, their not considered superstar players either.
The second-round choices under Quinn are a bit more concerning. Cornerback Teez Tabor, who is no longer on the team, being the worst of the bunch. And it appears 2016’s defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson has likely run his course in Detroit as well.
Running back Kerryon Johnson would be considered a success if he could stay healthy, although the Lions drafted him knowing his extensive injury history. And the book is still out on linebacker Jahlani Tavai, whom Detroit drafted just last year specifically for Patricia’s defensive scheme.
From the 2018 draft, both defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand and safety Tracy Walker are up-and-comers who may or may not be able to become Pro Bowl players in the future. But for every Hand and Walker, there’s a Tabor or someone like tight end Michael Roberts.
Under Quinn, the draft results have been mixed, to say the least. Although there are several quality players among the bunch, there have also been some big disappointments and not enough star power.
The Detroit Lions ownership has now granted Bob Quinn the keys to their highest draft selection in a decade. The Lions possess the third overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, as well as high picks in the following rounds. With Quinn’s future in Detroit on the line, expect a focus on adding prospects to the roster that can help Motown win now.