Detroit Lions: Revisiting the 2018 draft class three years later

Frank Ragnow, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Frank Ragnow, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Da'Shawn Hand (93), Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Da’Shawn Hand (93), Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

Da’Shawn Hand

Position: Defensive Line
Selection: Round 4 / 114th Overall
Career Stats: 26 games, 11 starts, 3.0 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 52 total tackles
Contract Status: Signed through 2021

A former five-star recruit, Hand enjoyed a solid if unspectacular four-year tenure at the University of Alabama. Despite his impressive measurables and athletic traits, he didn’t reach the upper echelon of college defensive linemen, prompting his drop in the draft.

The Lions saw him as a good fit for their defense; Crimson Tide defenders, particularly front-seven players, were generally seen as compatible with the scheme that Quinn and Patricia liked to run. He quickly found a role as a versatile two-gapping lineman for the Lions.

His rookie season was impressive, punctuated by dominant back-to-back performances against the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers in which he totaled 2.0 sacks, a pair of forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and two tackles for loss. He was certainly trending up at the halfway point of year one.

Unfortunately, he has yet to reach that level since then. The main reason has been injuries; he has missed 22 of 48 career games due to a series of ailments, including knee, groin, and elbow problems. These setbacks have clearly affected his development as he has not recorded a sack or quarterback hit since Week 10 of 2018. He just can’t be counted on as a full-time contributor at this point.

Entering year four, Hand figures to be firmly on the roster bubble when training camp arrives this summer. The acquisition of defensive tackle Michael Brockers from the Los Angeles Rams, as well as the addition of versatile defensive linemen Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeil in this year’s draft, could push Hand off of the roster completely. He’ll need to show that he is healthy and able to adapt to a new defensive scheme for the first time in his career in order to stick around in 2021.

Expectations should always be tempered for mid-round draft picks, so it may be a little harsh to call Hand a total miss. However, the potential that he flashed in his rookie year has made his subsequent lack of progress somewhat disappointing. That, combined with his lack of durability and a new regime in place makes it hard to see him staying in Detroit long-term.