Brad Holmes insists there’s a plan for injured Lions second-round picks

Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports /

His two second-round picks as Lions general manager are both injured, but Brad Holmes insists there are no regrets with either and there is plan.

Over his two drafts as Detroit Lions general manager, Brad Holmes has done a lot of good work. He’s taken two future cornerstones in the top-10 overall (Penei Sewell, Aidan Hutchinson) and had some nice finds (Amon-Ra St. Brown, Alim McNeill, Malcolm Rodriguez).

But last year’s second-round pick, defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike, entered the league with a back issue that lingered into his rookie season. And he has been dealing with it again now, to the point he’s unlikely to play Week 1 and it’s unclear when he’ll be able to play.

This year’s second-round pick, defensive end Josh Paschal, was deemed to have a “lower extremity” injury that lingered from the end of last season. It was eventually revealed he had hernia surgery after rookie minicamp in May. He was on the PUP list to start training camp, and he’ll remain there into the season and miss at least the first four games.

Holmes acknowledged he went against his normal philosophy to draft, let alone move up the way he did and draft, an injured player like Jameson Williams in the first round.

As for the two second-round picks he has made?

Brad Holmes defends approach with Lions injured second-round picks

During his post-final cuts, pre-Week 1 media session on Thursday, Holmes addressed concerns about the team’s medical evaluation process as it pertains to Onwuzurike and Paschal (via 97.1 The Ticket).

"Going back with Levi, he was dealing with something that we were aware of and that we knew about,” said Holmes. “He actually was able to do more than what we thought he was going to do last year. Unfortunately he’s had to still deal with it, but you don’t have that crystal ball quite yet.”With Josh, it was something that we were aware of, that we knew he had to deal with,” said Holmes. “We have a timeline in place and we don’t have any problem with it.”So we’re not kicking ourselves. We’re not saying, ‘Oh, we overlooked this or that.’ It’s just things that we were prepared for,”"

Onwuzurike played in 16 games as a rookie, however ineffectively much of the time as he operated at less than full strength, which appears to have exceeded internal expectations. Paschal will play no more than 13 games during his rookie season, and it’s fair to wonder how effective he’ll be out of the gate coming off a fairly significant injury of his own.

Injuries are a part of the game. They can and do recur, get more severe, etc. And to some degree, no football player who played at all in college is going to have absolutely no injury history.

But to be missing contributions for an undetermined time from back-to-back top-50 picks on the side of the ball which needs help the most is not a good look for the Lions, and more precisely Holmes. Almost as bad as expecting backup quarterbacks who’ve set a baseline at a certain level to suddenly get a lot better.

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