The Detroit Lions added nine rookies in the 2017 NFL Draft. Some players will find themselves in the starting lineup while others still need time.
The Detroit Lions ended the 2017 NFL draft with satisfaction. Having filling positions that needed attention Bob Quinn substantially bettered the Lions 2017 roster. Prior to the draft, Quinn said he was going to have a heavy offense draft even though he went heavy on the offense when free agency opened. Despite his comments, the first two draft picks went to the defense.
Actually, six of their nine picks were defense positions. This is great news for the Lions as they had one of the worst defenses in the league last season. The Lions also added two players to their receiving corps and a future quarterback who could be conditioned to be Matthew Stafford’s back-up.
All-in-all it was a good draft. The Lions even traded up with the New England Patriots for an extra pick. Quinn and the Detroit front office didn’t waste any opportunities. They addressed the needs where they suffer the most and added a couple of players who will enhance their strong points.
Going pick-by-pick, let’s break down the 2017 NFL Draft class for the Detroit Lions.
Pick No. 21: Jarrad Davis, LB
Jarrad Davis is going to heavily influence the Lions defense. The two areas they lack the most are some of his strongest areas: controlling a tight end and stuffing the run.
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By Week 8 of last season, the Lions had already given up eight touchdowns to tight ends, not to mention the 517 yards surrendered to opposing tight ends. The Lions also surrendered over 105 rushing yards per game. Adding a linebacker into the mix was a good move by the Lions. Davis is very athletic and flexible. He as a keen eye and uses it to mimic the quarterback. He has a good tackle completion rate and strong blitz productivity.
He is NFL-ready, but needs some training. Davis needs to be more consistent. He also needs to pay smarter. Davis tends to exert so much energy getting to the runner which slows him down in the end.
Davis also has great character. Teammates and coaches praise his dedication and devotion on and off the field. If he keeps up this image it’ll only be a matter of time before he’s ranked with some of the most elite NFL linebackers.
Pick No. 53: Teez Tabor, CB
This is great news for the Lions. Darius Slay will need some help this season, and with a strong corner playing opposite, those numbers should decrease. Not to mention, it will decrease the above 80 percent pass completion per game rate opponents were totaling against the Lions.
Tabor has gained attention since high school. He was awarded the Mr. Football title his senior year. He continued the success throughout his college career. After producing eight pass break-ups, Tabor was named a Freshmen All-American. It didn’t stop there. He was first-team All-SEC his sophomore and junior year, while also adding third-team All-American honors.
Tabor has good size and is very athletic. He’s light on his toes and has nice footwork. His versatility allows him to re-route whether it’s a high or low route. Tabor has amazing coverage abilities and qualities.
But Tabor comes with a few concerns. One of the biggest concerns with Tabor is his downfield speed. He’s also thrown off-balance at times, which causes him to lose his footing. He has also had a questionable drug test and scuffled with a teammate.
Tabor is NFL ready at times, which is exactly what the Lions needs. However, he will still need a great deal of strengthening and conditioning. Ironically, before he was even drafted by the Lions, he was being compared to Slay.
This could be a great relationship. If Tabor is already showing signs and qualities of Slay, the two should be a match made in heaven. If he focuses on his weaknesses and is ready to put in work, Tabor should be a great asset for the Lions defense.
Pick No. 96: Kenny Golladay, WR
According to the Lions unofficial depth chart, the Lions don’t have a third option at receiving on either side of the field. They have Golden Tate, T.J. Jones, Marvin Jones and Jace Billingsley. Of those receivers, Tate and Marvin Jones were the backbones of the receiving corps last season. Tate had a little over 1,000 yards and four touchdowns while Jones had a little under 1,000 yards and four touchdowns. The Lions did make the playoffs, but those numbers aren’t much to brag about.
That’s where Golladay steps in. His size and athleticism are ideal for what the Lions are looking for. A young talented receiver who can learn under Tate and Jones is really going to enhance the Lions offense. Golladay recorded 18 touchdowns in his last two seasons at Northern Illinois. He received many honors and awards after having two seasons where he topped 1,000 yards.
His frame is enough to make grab your attention. He’s tall and long limbed, which is ideal for a receiver. Some analysts have questioned his speed, but he creates good separation. He’s smart and thinks instinctively about the play.
On the other hand, his timing is off. He gets pushed around when it comes down to bump and run coverage. Golladay also needs to be more aware of his boundaries. He’s timid at times and will until he’s the last option to block a play.
Many analysts expected Golladay to be drafted later than the third-round, but with what the Lions need, they reached. He will need some work to be NFL-ready, but his strengths outweigh his weaknesses and will be a good addition to the squad.
Pick No. 124: Jaylen Reeves-Maybin, LB
Jaylen Reeves-Maybi was a steal in the fourth round. His strong athletic build comes with many positive characteristics. He’s also going to help from the Lions early pick Davis. The two will be able to condition together as they both prepare to take on the NFL.
Reeves-Maybin should focus on bulking up as he’s undersized and lacks endurance against the run. Reeves-Maybin surffered a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the majority of his senior season. After Week 4, he underwent a shoulder surgery. As a result, he couldn’t train and lost some of his much-needed body mass.
Missing a season could also mean he needs to shake off some of the rust. He hasn’t played in months, and by the time Week 1 one rolls around, it’ll have been his first game in almost a year. But overall, Reeves-Maybin is an ideal linebacker. He reacts instantly upon a snap. He’s flexible and versatile which allow him to think on his toes and react to any situation. He stays focused and never takes his eye off the ball.
He does need some improvements when it comes to grounding himself. When he doesn’t plant his feet, he loses balance and throws off his timing. Even with the Lions lacking defense, I am not sure Reeves-Maybin will be ready for the beginning of the season. With hard work and training, he could be a starter by mid-season.
Pick No. 127: Michael Roberts, TE
Michael Roberts is another big steal in the fourth round. It’s no secret Eric Ebron could use some help at the position. Ironically, during the offseason, there was speculation that Bob Quinn was going to draft like Bill Belichick. Well, he did, the Lions are now in the position to run a 2-TE set.
Other than Roberts poor timing and blocking skills, he should be ready to go. His talents outshine his weaknesses (that’s a good thing). More than 80 percent of his completions were for at least 20 yards and 35 percent of those completions finished in the end zone. Matthew Stafford and Roberts could be a beautiful relationship in the making. Look for Roberts to have breakout rookie year.
Pick No. 165: Jamal Agnew, CB
Pre-draft assumptions were that cornerback Jamal Agnew would possibly end the weekend undrafted. Unexpectedly, the Lions drafted him with their 165th pick in Round 5. That may have been a reach, but then again — maybe not if they had him graded that highly on his potential.
He’s one of those players you need to take a chance with. He’s extremely small and struggles on the outside. On the other hand, his size doesn’t keep him from making plays on the ball. Agnew goes above and beyond to get himself downfield while blocking and offering run support.
His versatility offers him more opportunities as he’s an experienced punt returner who even returned one for a touchdown in 2016. He also added 11 interceptions under his belt while attending San Diego.
Sometimes all you need is a positive attitude and the urge to succeed. If Agnew put it’s the effort needed to be ready for a starting position, he might just see himself on the Lions depth chart sooner than later. If nothing else, though, he’ll see work on special teams as a rookie with his return ability.
Pick No. 205: Jeremiah Ledbetter, DE
Jeremiah Ledbetter is a decent draft pick for late in the draft. He doesn’t size up with most NFL defensive ends, but with some dedication and hard work, he could really impact the Lions defense.
Ledbetter is very flexible in his hips. He has great technique and gets low, lower than his opposing linemen. His arms are swift and quick and he never takes his eye off his target. He could become a stronger pass rusher with practice. He needs to increase his hand usage and speed up field. Ledbetter isn’t in control of his body at times causing him to lose balance and footwork.
Pick No. 215: Brad Kaaya, QB
Being drafted to the Lions will be a great opportunity for quarterback Brad Kaaya. Getting a chance to learn and train under Stafford is a chance of a lifetime. Kaaya has a great foundation. He’s smart and really comprehends the sport and his role. He entered the draft having the fourth most passing yards in ACC history. He has nice accuracy and clean movements in the pocket.
Kaaya needs to trust himself. He second guesses and hesitates under pressure. One good hit in the NFL could make him more aware of this and aid in his confidence. He’s the type of quarterback that could end up a second string quarterback after this season. If he wants it, he’ll get it.
Pick No. 250: Pat O’Connor, DE
O’Connor had several high school and college honors for his athletic performance. In 2016, O’Connor totaled 42 tackles with 14.5 for loss. He also has 8.5 sacks and five forced fumbles.
After drafting Ledbetter, he will probably won’t fit on the depth chart right away. But his college statistics prove he could become a critical part of the defensive line.
Source: Fox Sports