4 players the Detroit Lions gave up on too soon

Plenty of players have disappointed over the course of their history, but the Detroit Lions gave up on these four players too soon.
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Kyle Van Noy, Detroit Lions
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4. OG Laken Tomlinson

Tomlinson was probably a reach in the first round of the 2015 draft by the Lions (28th overall). But trading him after just two seasons to the San Francisco 49ers has gone down as a mistake.

Tomlinson has not missed a game over the last five seasons, four with the San Francisco 49ers and one with the New York Jets after signing a nice free agent deal (three-years, $40 million) with them. He was a top-12 graded guard by Pro Football Focus in 2021 for the 49ers, as he earned a Pro Bowl selection that year.

Keeping Tomlinson could have allowed the Lions to avoid giving Halapoulivaati Vaitai a bloated contract a couple years later. And they may now have a clearer option to start at right guard, rather than a potential weak spot on one of the league's best offensive lines.

3. LB/Edge Kyle Van Noy

A third-round pick out of BYU in 2014, Van Noy did not last three seasons as a Lion before being traded to the New England Patriots. He is currently without a team for this year, as training camp nears, but he has been a versatile producer. He has at least five sacks and nine quarterback hits in five of the last six seasons, with more than 65 total tackles and at least seven tackles for loss in four of the six campaigns. He also has two Super Bowl rings from his time with the Patriots.

In a certain sense, Van Noy might fit nicely on the 2023 Lions. But there's no doubt the team gave up on him too soon several years ago. He had not yet remotely tapped into what he'd ultimately offer, over what has been a long career that should have had more years wearing Honolulu Blue.