ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- After hours of research and debating, studying and interviewing, the NFL draft is over. The Detroit Lions took 10 prospects and are in the process of signing and working out undrafted free agents.
But what was learned from Bob Quinn's first draft as a general manager -- both about the 2016 (and beyond) Lions and how Quinn will handle future drafts?
1. Bob Quinn will trade, someday: Those days just weren’t the three days of last week’s draft. A trade seemed somewhat inevitable after the Lions had 10 picks over three days with eight of them being tradable. Yet Quinn picked with every one of them during his first draft. Quinn took calls, though, to move up and down in the draft. But he gave a bit of his philosophy based on his words. If he has a cluster of players he likes at a spot, he either won’t drop down very far or won’t move at all because he doesn’t want to lose all of them. He also said during his first couple of years, he would “rather be safe than sorry” with who he drafts. That seems to have been his philosophy this year with the actual picks as well. That said, trades will eventually come.
2. The lines are always going to be a draft factor: Quinn believes, rightly so, that games are often won and lost based on the quality and depth of the offensive and defensive lines. That matched up with need during the 2016 draft, when the Lions took linemen with half their picks (not including the long-snapper). There will likely be years where the Lions don’t focus as heavily on the lines, but based on the way Quinn spoke during his three meetings with the media and how he drafted, focus on the lines is going to come up essentially every draft either for starters or depth.
3. Versatility is going to matter: Almost all of the Lions picks, other than quarterback Jake Rudock, have some sort of position flexibility. All of the offensive linemen drafted have played at more than one spot on the line. Defensive end Anthony Zettel can play end and tackle, similar to what Jason Jones brought to the Lions in years past. Running back Dwayne Washington converted from wide receiver to running back. Linebacker Antiowne Williams can play both outside linebacker spots and on special teams. Miles Killebrew is mostly a strong safety, but could end up as a core special teams player. Quinn has pointed to versatility with a lot of his acquisitions since taking over and the draft is an extension of that. So players who can do more things – they’ll be valuable commodities for the Lions in the future.
4. He stuck to his word: Quinn said last month he believed it to be “good football business” to draft a quarterback every year or every other year to help development and the constant search of players. It’s a departure from former general manager Martin Mayhew's strategy when he took Matthew Stafford in 2009 and that was it. But Quinn stuck with his pre-draft word, taking Rudock in the sixth round. Quinn was also refreshingly candid about a multitude of issues over the past month, from how the team viewed Robert Nkemdiche to marijuana use for prospects and the draft board and to whether or not the team thought about taking Connor Cook in the third round. The candid approach only helps him and gives good insight to fans trying to understand his draft process.
5.The Lions drafted good personalities: Locker room chemistry is important and after a bunch of interviews with Detroit’s draftees, another common theme emerged. Most of them were/are good talkers. While that might seem more like inside journalism than anything else, it is important because it helps to understand what’s going on with the franchise. Killebrew’s personality oozed over the phone. Rudock has a dry sense of humor. Decker, Glasgow and A'Shawn Robinson all were engaging both at the combine and in their conference calls. That’s actually a good thing because Detroit has spent the past few seasons fostering a good locker room dynamic, something that has been quite strong under Jim Caldwell. Considering Quinn’s focus on high-character guys, it isn’t surprising it continued in the draft.