4 draft picks the Detroit Lions gave up on too soon

There aren't many obvious ones, but here are four draft picks the Detroit Lions gave up on a bit too soon.
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If you comb through Detroit Lions' draft history, you'll see a lot more big misses than big hits. Of course a lot of draft pick hits have come over the first three drafts of general manager Brad Holmes, which has been a refreshing change and the fruit of that has been born on the field. Lions' fans and followers are not used to loving the work of a front office executive.

But along with the simple, clear-cut draft mistakes, proven by hindsight and easily known (too easily known, in the Lions' case), every team has players they drafted but gave up on too soon. In some respect as it relates to the Lions, a draft pick realizing his full potential elsewhere was a function of the dysfunction that could never quite be avoided in Detroit for years-or even decades. And as became common when Matt Patricia was head coach, if a player didn't fall in line with his poor attempt to instill "The Patriot Way" he was going to be gone quickly.

Players the Lions drafted and obviously gave up on too soon are pretty hard to find. Going way back in history, there a couple Hall of Fame quarterbacks they drafted that never played for them due to circumstances the team could not control. So they don't fit the template of "gave up on", even if it feels like missed opportunity given the historical hindsight.

4 draft picks Detroit Lions gave up on too soon

4. OG Laken Tomlinson

Tomlinson was a surprising first-round pick by the Lions in 2015 (No. 28 overall), and after losing his job during his second season he was traded to the San Francisco 49ers. He went on to be a steady starter in San Francisco for the next five seasons (2017-2021), and he parlayed that into a nice free agent contract from the New York Jets in 2022.

Tomlinson's play fell off with the Jets, perhaps partly as a function of a rough situation (sound familiar?), and he was a too-easy cap casualty this offseason. But he did start all 34 games for them over the last two seasons, and he has not missed a game since his first season with the 49ers.

Tomlinson felt like an option to return to the Lions as the replacement for Jonah Jackson, but that didn't happen. Jackson worked out well at left guard, but Tomlinson could have been just as good as a part of one of the league's best offensive lines in recent years.

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