Michael Rothstein breaks down the 2016 Detroit Lions draft class.
My take: This was the safe, smart pick by general manager Bob Quinn. Decker gives the Lions an immediate starter on the offensive line, probably at right tackle, to start his career. He'll improve Detroit's running game immediately -- he was a ferocious run-blocker at Ohio State -- and could end up as the Lions' left tackle as early as 2017 with Riley Reiff entering the final year of his contract. While Shaq Lawson and Myles Jack were intriguing options and should also be good players, Detroit found a good one in Decker and also solved a big-need position in the process. He's the first Ohio State offensive tackle taken in the first round since Orlando Pace in 1997. A bonus for the Lions is potential early continuity on the offensive line since Decker has worked out with offensive line guru LeCharles Bentley -- the same trainer Detroit right guard Larry Warford uses. The two could end up playing next to each other this season.
Lions had options: With the way the draft board fell, the Lions had a bunch of other ways they could have gone and Lawson, Jack or Jarran Reed as the pick would have been too much of a surprise. But considering how fast Detroit handed in its card at No. 16, it was obvious Decker was the target all along. Decker played 54 games for Ohio State and helped block for Ezekiel Elliott in 2015, when the Buckeyes averaged 245.2 yards per game. He was an All-American and the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Tunsil slide could have been interesting: The most intriguing storyline of the first round was if Laremy Tunsil was going to potentially slide to No. 16, giving first-time general manager Bob Quinn an interesting decision with his first pick in Detroit. He didn't have to make that decision, though, as Tunsil ended up going to Miami at No. 13 -- to the same team where Ndamukong Suh now plays. Quinn has been big on character -- he called Robert Nkemdiche a red-flag player during his pre-draft news conference last week -- so it would have been a pretty interesting call. But it was not a decision Quinn ended up having to make.
Round 2, Pick No. 46:
My take: Very, very smart pick by rookie general manager Bob Quinn, who is having a strong top of the draft. Detroit needed to find a player who could finally replace the Nick Fairley-Ndamukong Suh tandem that left after the 2014 season. In Robinson, the Lions can finally start rebuilding the interior of the defensive line. Robinson will help against the run immediately while learning either next to or behind Haloti Ngata before eventually replacing him. He'll take up a ton of space in the middle of the line and could pull some double-teams from Ezekiel Ansah as well. It is another solid, but not flashy, selection by Quinn. Good move.
Lines are getting better: A must for Detroit during this draft was solidifying the offensive and defensive lines. Quinn took care of that early, first with offensive tackle Taylor Decker on Thursday night and now with Robinson with his first pick Friday night. Don't be surprised if Quinn adds another lineman or two with the eight picks the Lions have remaining in this year's draft as defensive end and center remain needs. But Quinn appears to be focusing from the lines out, and that's what is happening so far during this draft.
Defensive depth was there: The board played well for the Lions in the second round. While the linebacker depth dropped a bit with Jaylon Smith, Myles Jack and Reggie Ragland all off the board before pick No. 46, there was depth at defensive tackle, cornerback and safety for the Lions at the spot -- giving Quinn a bunch of options at a bunch of positions of need. It likely led him to have a pretty difficult decision on his hands as Detroit won't pick for 49 selections after No. 46 barring a trade. Considering the Lions' struggles with second-round picks over the past decade, this pick might be more scrutinized than most, especially since Detroit picked Robinson over Jarran Reed and Andrew Billings.
Round 3, Pick No. 72: Graham Glasgow, C, Michigan | Highlights
My take: Another safe, smart selection for Bob Quinn, who is quietly having a really strong draft building from the lines out. So far, Quinn has used all of his draft picks on linemen -- two on the offensive line with Taylor Decker and Glasgow and one on the interior of the defensive line with A'Shawn Robinson from Alabama. Quinn viewed Decker and Glasgow in similar ways that they are "big, strong, tough, durable" along with having versatility. Decker can play both tackle spots and Glasgow has played both center and guard throughout his career.
Travis Swanson is possibly in trouble: That the Lions would devote a Day 2 pick to a center for the second time in three seasons doesn't bode well for how the franchise views Swanson's long-term future with the franchise. Swanson was drafted in the third round in 2014 and spelled veteran Dominic Raiola that season. He started last season and was wildly inconsistent. No one in the Lions brass has publicly committed to Swanson being the center in 2016, with Jim Caldwell saying at the owners meetings he would have to earn it. That job got much more difficult with the addition of Glasgow, who is tough and has shown to be a good run-blocker and pass-protector. Quinn said Swanson played well last year but that he'll "have competition" now for the starting center position.
All-Star games helped him stand out: Glasgow is the kind of guy who really benefitted from playing in All-Star games after the season. He played in both the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl and his performance there elevated how the Lions viewed him as a prospect. He showed he could play guard and center during the practices for those games and that helped out even more. Quinn said Glasgow helped himself "considerably" during the All-Star games because he played the best competition possible down there. Quinn called it an important part of the evaluation process and it is obvious it helped Glasgow.
Round 4, Pick No. 111:
My take: The Lions needed to find a long-term solution at safety in the draft and in Killebrew they found a player who can be the in-the-box safety Detroit had with James Ihedigbo and Isa Abdul-Quddus last season. This should be an intriguing pick for the Lions because he is good against the run and is a big hitter. He is way better against the run than the pass, so he’ll almost definitely fill the strong safety need for Detroit. The 6-foot-2, 217-pound Killebrew will be in a competition with Rafael Bush and Tavon Wilson for a starting spot opposite Glover Quin. Another smart, fill-a-need-with-a-talented-player pick by Bob Quinn.
Killebrew put up good combine numbers: While he didn’t have the best 40-yard dash time (4.65 seconds), he’s plenty strong (22 reps on the bench) and he can clearly jump. He was one of the best among safeties in the vertical jump (38 inches) and in the broad jump (127 inches). His size and leaping ability could eventually turn him into a linebacker.
The Detroit Lions are piling up with offensive linemen in this draft. With five picks, three have been on the offensive line after the franchise took Joe Dahl, the offensive tackle from Washington State.
My take: This is somewhat of a surprise considering the Lions focused so much of their efforts on the offensive line during the first two days of the draft. This is the second tackle taken in five picks -- and what it does is put all tackles not named Riley Reiff or Taylor Decker on notice that their jobs are not secure. The 6-foot-4, 304-pound Dahl has some flexibility, which probably made him more attractive to general manager Bob Quinn. He can play guard and tackle if necessary. The Lions probably could have gone with a skill position player here, considering there are multiple needs, but Quinn said Friday night he believes he has to win through the lines, so adding another lineman makes some sense here.
Round 5, Pick No. 169: Antwione Williams, OLB, Ga. Southern
My take: It's tough to really know because he comes from a fairly small school and, honestly, I don't know much about him, but he was the No. 43 outside linebacker on the Scouts, Inc. rating board entering the draft. He has 205 career tackles and 10 passes defended in his career. Williams was honorable mention All-Sun Belt the past two seasons. Based on a highlight tape, he appears to be a pretty sure tackler. He majored in psychology at Georgia Southern and his full name is Leander Antwione Williams. According to this story in the Savannah Morning News, he wasn’t invited to the NFL combine and has received advice from Jerick McKinnon and J.J. Wilcox, according to that same Savannah Morning News story. He played weakside linebacker his last year at Georgia Southern, so this is probably a depth draft pick at this point.
The Detroit Lions drafted a quarterback for the first time since 2009, and he’s a local one – Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock. He’s the first quarterback taken by the franchise since Matthew Stafford.
My take: I’ve been high on Rudock since the end of last season and he’s a good fit as a developmental quarterback behind Stafford. He’s an intelligent player who understands how to implement a pro-style system -- something he had to do twice at Iowa and then last season under Jim Harbaugh and Jedd Fisch at Michigan. It’s unlikely he ends up being a starting quarterback in the NFL, but he’ll be able to help prepare Stafford during the week and will be a capable backup in the league. He’ll fit in well in Detroit’s quarterback room. He’s also reuniting with his former center, Graham Glasgow, who was taken by the Lions on Friday night.
The pro-style system helped: The transfer from Iowa to Michigan did wonders for Rudock. He essentially had a master's degree in football last season learning under Harbaugh and Fisch, the former Jacksonville offensive coordinator. Rudock told me in February that experience helped him immensely because he learned Michigan’s playbook by watching NFL films and NFL quarterbacks. That was the plan by Fisch, who used it to explain what he wanted to run on game days. It took him a little time to get the verbiage down because it was fairly complex, similar to an NFL offense.
My take: This is a good value pick for the Lions to help bolster the interior of the defensive line with Zettel, a two-year starter at Penn State at both defensive end and defensive tackle. This pick feels somewhat like a possible replacement for Jason Jones, although he’s likely to play as much tackle as he is end. He has size at 6-foot-3, 277 pounds to do both, if the Lions feel he can. It’s another player with enough versatility to play multiple spots on the defensive line. He’s better against the pass than the run, but could end up as an edge-setter like Jones and Darryl Tapp were for the Lions last season.
My take: So meet Jimmy Landes, who will clearly push Don Muhlbach for the team's long-snapping role. The geology major at Baylor walked on to the team and ended up winning the job for three seasons. He was invited to the NFL combine and played in the Senior Bowl. This is a completely bizarre pick by the Lions, in part because of the competence of Muhlbach and also because Detroit has ignored receiver and cornerback so far in this draft.
Round 7, Pick 236 Dwayne Washington, RB, Washington
My take: Washington is a big dude, coming in at 6-foot-2, 226 pounds, so he’s likely competing with Zach Zenner and George Winn for what will probably be one roster spot. He’ll have to be big on special teams in order to secure a spot considering the promise Zenner showed last season. In his career, Washington had 226 carries for 1,311 yards and 17 touchdowns. He has some hands, though, catching 25 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns last season. Despite only rushing for 697 yards (averaging 5.3 yards per carry), he was named Washington’s offensive MVP in 2014. His average rush of 5.8 yards is impressive and he clearly has the weight to be a thumper. It’d be interesting if the Lions consider him a running back or more of a fullback to compete with Michael Burton. Washington also left Washington early to declare for the draft.