General Manager Bob Quinn Gets Passing Grade After His First Offseason
After last year’s front office shakeup, the Detroit Lions have had an interesting offseason. As with any major organizational changes, there were a lot of things done differently than Lions fans are used to. What has Bob Quinn accomplished as he heads into his first season as the man in charge? How different is the make up of this team, and more importantly is it better or worse than it was in January?
Here is a look at the Lions roster, a description of the moves made, and an assessment of whether it is better or worse with Bob Quinn at the helm. The report card gives A’s for positive changes, C’s for no change, and F’s for negative changes.
Bob Quinn did not change significant portions of the coaching staff, keeping the head coach and both coordinators. A few position coaches were replaced, but no real changes were implemented.
The Lions drafted Jake Rudock, but his inaccuracy on balls more than ten yards downfield led to him not making the 53 man roster and being stashed on the practice squad. Other than that there were no changes to this position group. Stafford and Orlovsky are neither better nor worse than what Bob Quinn inherited in January.
Running back: B
The Lions cut Joique Bell, who had been increasingly ineffective over the last two seasons due to mounting injury issues. They signed Stevan Ridley, and cut him early in the preseason. They also drafted Dwayne Washington in the seventh round, who very much looks like he could be a solid contributor on special teams. The net effect? Replacing Joique Bell with Dwayne Washington, and bumping Ameer Abdullah into a more prominent role in the offense. This is a better position group than it was in January: Abdullah, Riddick, Zenner, Burton, and Washington are a decent group of running backs.
Tight End: A-
Free agent Matt Mulligan was brought in and penciled in as the third tight end who could block and contribute on special teams. The signing of Orson Charles and Andrew Quarless saw to it that Mulligan’s services were no longer needed.
Undrafted rookie Cole Wick may or may not have a spot on the roster when Quarless comes back, and who knows when or if Brandon Pettigrew is coming back. The Lions have four tight ends on the roster who deserve jobs in the NFL, whereas in January they had two. That is very solid depth at the position: Ebron, Charles, Wick is not a great group, but better than last season after Pettigrew was injured. Add Quarless in week two, and Pettigrew in week six, and it turns in to Ebron, Pettigrew, Quarless.
That is a good group.
Wide Receiver: A+
I am not penalizing Bob Quinn for Calvin Johnson’s retirement as it had nothing to do with him, and had been decided before the end of the 2015 season by some reports.
The group Quinn inherited was Golden Tate, Corey Fuller, and TJ Jones. Seeing the catastrophe before him, he brought in Marvin Jones, Anquan Boldin, Andre Caldwell, Andre Roberts, Jeremy Kerley, and a bevy of undrafted free agents. The final depth chart does not have most of these players on it, but more importantly it only has one player that Quinn inherited. It is among the best position groups on the team.
The final four receivers: Jones, Tate, Boldin, and Roberts will likely see another WR added as the roster is finished out, but the fifth wide receiver is typically a kick returner or not dressed most weeks. Bob Quinn did his best work with the wide receiver group.
Offensive Tackle: B
Drafting Taylor Decker in the first round pushed Riley Rieff over to the right tackle spot, which has looked like a great move. The depth tackles are unchanged as Cornelius Lucas and Corey Robinson were the back up tackles when Quinn came in and have remained so. Decker, Reiff, Lucas, Robinson is an improvement over last season’s group.
Interior Offensive Line: C-
The Lions let Manny Ramirez walk, and signed veteran stop gap Geoff Schwartz before the draft. A funny thing happened on the way to the regular season though: Joe Dahl took that job. The fifth round pick was clearly overwhelmed in his first game, but as the preseason stretched on Dahl showed the ability to play pretty well. Culminating in a performance at left tackle in the final preseason game against Buffalo that got veteran pass rusher Kroy Bierman cut from the Bills roster.
Ramirez was the primary backup at guard and center, with Dahl having taken the first role, that leaves center to Graham Glasgow. There is not a single player in the interior of the Lions offensive line with more than three years of experience going in to week one.
I cannot say that I believe this is a better group than it was last year, but it very well may be in the future, there are just too many unknowns at this point. At the very least the group is on par with last season’s group. Tomlinson, Warford, Swanson, Dahl, Glasgow is a push from the group the Lions had last season at best.
Defensive Tackle: B+
Tyrunn Walker was re-signed, as was Haloti Ngata. Stefon Charles was brought in as a free agent, and A’Shawn Robinson was added in the second round of the draft. The first two were just solid decisions to hold on to, but the addition of the second two created a level of competition that had not been seen previously in Detroit.
Last season’s fourth round pick Gabe Wright as well as Caraun Reid, numbers three and four from last season’s depth chart, were no longer able to keep up. Reid had a decent preseason but lost out in the numbers game, as five defensive tackles were deemed to have had a better camp/preseason. In Reid the Lions cut at least one payer who will be picked up somewhere this season, whereas last season they had at least one that could not have made another roster.
Ngata, Walker, Robinson, Charles, Thornton is a better group than the one that Quinn inherited.
Defensive End: C+
Bob Quinn made the decision to let go of Jason Jones and Darryl Tapp, who had been taking fewer snaps than Devon Taylor toward the end of the season last year. This was mitigated by moving Brandon Copeland from linebacker to his college position of defensive end, signing Wallace Gillberry, and drafting Anthony Zettel. Kerry Hyder was still under contract, and played lights out enough to convince the team that they needed a sixth defensive end more than a fifth wide receiver.
This is not a better group than last year at the top of the depth chart, only about even, but all of the players at the bottom are better than Darryl Tapp.
Ansah, Taylor, Gillberry, Copeland, Zettel, and Hyder is a better group overall than last year’s crew through depth.
Just as I am not penalizing Bob Quinn for Johnson’s retirement, he gets no points for the return of De’Andre Levy, or the emergence of Kyle Van Noy as a decent player. Quinn did however choose Tahir Whitehead over the aging Tulloch, and he gets points for that decision.
Whitehead is simply the better player at this point in his career, and it would have been an easy decision to cut ties with both players, going after a higher priced free agent than Whitehead for the middle linebacker role. Bringing in Jon Bostic, who unfortunately is injured and hopeful to return in soon, and Antwione Williams, who has looked great in both the MLB and strongside linebacker roles against the run if not nearly as good in coverage, are moves that Quinn does get points for. The abilities of Thurston Armbrister remain to be seen, but he has experience in the middle and strong side roles. He will likely be limited to special teams initially barring catastrophe.
The Lions will be dressing five linebackers if they do not add more, and that lack of depth is a negative, if only a slight one. It’s certainly a better group than the one that started Travis Lewis in games last season. Levy, Van Noy, Whitehead, Bynes (IR), Williams, Bostic, Armbrister is a better group of linebackers than the Lions had in January, though something needs to be done for at least the first eight weeks while Bynes is out.
I will admit that I didn’t think Adarius Barnes was going to make the team, but he did force me to look up who the number 38 that was not George Winn was in every preseason game. That is usually a good indicator that a player is making a mark when he was never supposed to.
Slay, Lawson, and Diggs are all inherited players that had fairly set roles barring a big name free agent or a high draft pick having been used. The additions of Johnson Bademosi and Barnes are Quinn moves. I will hold judgement on Barnes, but I do like that he legitimately beat out Crezdon Butler and Darrin Walls on defense in the final two preseason games. Neither of those men were good players and I was concerned that one would get on the roster by default.
Alex Carter looked slow, and confused pretty much the entire time he was on the field in the preseason. He was signed to the practice squad, but he wasn’t a good player for the Lions. I would agree whole-heartedly with a decision to move on from him.
Slay, Lawson, Diggs, Bademosi, Barnes is a better group than what Bob Quinn had to work with in January.
Bob Quinn allowed James Ihedigbo and Isa Abdul-Quddus to walk this off season. Their replacements are Rafael Bush and Tavon Wilson. I still don’t know how I feel about that and likely will not until the half way point of the season.
The Lions also drafted Miles Killebrew in the fourth round, who has looked like a rookie successfully making the jump from low level college competition to the NFL. Don Carey was just good enough on defense to justify keeping him for his special teams prowess. This is the position group that I think has actually gotten worse in the offseason as neither Bush nor Wilson have been particularly impressive.
Quin, Bush, Wilson, Carey, Killebrew is not a better group than the Lions had in January. It may very well be worse, but not by much.
The final grade for Bob Quinn’s offseason: B-
In all, while Bob Quinn has brutalized the veterans who did not produce, the team kept all but one of his draft picks on the roster going in to week one. Typically in Detroit that was due to a complete lack of quality veteran competition, but these draft picks beat out some legitimate NFL players who will find jobs elsewhere.
Most of the position groups are better than they were. A few are in about the same spot, and only one looks worse in my eyes. The general manager’s job is to make the roster better and Bob Quinn has definitely done that in the vast majority of position groups.