ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Bob Quinn liked the versatility. Taylor Decker just wants a chance to play. So when Decker was still on the board for the Detroit Lions at No. 16, Quinn fielded some calls from other teams and then decided he wanted to keep the pick and fill a need.
So he took Decker at No. 16 with a plan to play him at a tackle position quickly -- Quinn just isn't sure which one.
“We’re going to put him in the mix with the rest of the tackles on the roster and see who the players are at the right position,” Quinn said. “We’re not going to pinpoint him now or until we’re ready to play a game, at what position, what side of the ball.
“He is a tackle, so he’ll either be right tackle or left tackle and that’s really to be determined.”
The Lions appear to have their starting tackles set between Decker and Riley Reiff. That both players have played at both spots throughout their careers gives the Lions options for the next few months leading up to the season opener in September.
Decker understands a starting role won’t be handed to him, despite Quinn saying he’ll play one tackle or the other. He’s never played in the NFL. He went up against another first-round pick, Joey Bosa, in practice every day, but practice is different than games so he knows there will be a learning curve.
And he believes he is a tough player who blocks well against the run and likes finishing blocks. He said he needs to be more efficient with his movement, especially at 6-foot-7, and squaring up in pass protection.
“I do think I come from a very competitive program, so I would say that’s definitely one thing, kind of like a toughness,” Decker said. “And then I think I have a relatively decent football IQ. I think I can learn the plays and execute them, so I know an NFL playbook is a lot different than a college one, but I think I will hopefully be able to digest it well and learn the playbook.”
The combination of intangibles, leadership, production and durability made Decker attractive to Quinn. Decker played in 54 games at Ohio State, starting the final three seasons of his career. Quinn liked what he saw as the Lions evaluated a plethora of offensive tackles -- a clear position of need after Detroit gave up 89 sacks the past two seasons.
“We evaluated all of them and I think they were all, all of them had their different skill sets and I think the thing that Taylor brought (was) that he was really well-rounded,” Quinn said. “He can pass-protect, he can run-block. I think some of the guys may be better at one or the other. I think Taylor was one of the more versatile tackles in this year’s draft.”