The 2018 NFL Draft Grades For Detroit Are In!
Coming into the 2018 NFL Draft, the most popular pick for Detroit at number 20 was running back Derrius Guice from LSU. Other positions that fans were hoping Detroit would address were defensive tackle, defensive end, center/guard, tight end and possibly linebacker.
Well GM Bob Quinn mixed up that plan and got a few different positions, as well as some of the big needs for the Lions heading into 2018. Detroit would get a running back, but his name wasn’t Derrius Guice, and they would end up getting help on the defensive line, but his name wasn’t Harold Landry, Vita Vea, or Maurice Hurst. Check out what grades I gave the 2018 class.
First round: Frank Ragnow – C
While it isn’t a sexy pick in the first round, it is one that was needed. The running back class was deep with many different players, and Quinn knew that. There was talent that was available for him after the first round, that was just as good.
The defensive line class was weak in 2018, and with a stronger class coming in the NFL in 2019, it had a factor in what Quinn would do in this draft class. Also, with the best lineman in Vita Vea gone, and with others having medical issues, Quinn decided to push them aside and focus on the offensive line.
Coming into 2018, the Lions had four impressive offensive linemen starting for them in Taylor Decker, Graham Glasgow, T.J. Lang, and Rick Wagner. Former starting center Travis Swanson would be let go after multiple injury issues and with offensive linemen Wesley Johnson and Kenny Wiggins signing it was clear Detroit needed help at either center or guard.
In steps first-round pick Frank Ragnow. Ragnow is able to swing to guard if needed, but performs better and has more experience at the center position. Ragnow technically never allowed a sack in his college career at Arkansas, and even with the one debateable sack, that is still an impressive record. With Ragnow coming in at center, that most likely means Glasgow will stay at left guard, unless Johnson or Wiggins can unseat him as the starter, but it will be unlikely.
Second Round: Kerryon Johnson – RB
While it wasn’t the running back everyone wanted, it was still a running back and one that, as of right now, looks better than Guice as he was rumored to be having some off the field issues. Quinn worked his magic again in the draft, and with Ragnow he didn’t have to trade up, but with Johnson, Quinn knew the Washington Redskins were eyeing to take the running back and traded up to step right in front of them to take Johnson.
The Lions are on a 68 game streak of not having a 100-yard rusher, and while some of the blame over the years can be pointed at the offensive line and coaching, some of it has to be also pointed at the running backs themselves. Detroit was hoping for the best with Ameer Abdullah, but that seems to have not worked and he could be on his way out after the 2018 season.
Kerryon Johnson will hopefully be different, and with an impressive three-year career at Auburn, finishing with 2,494 yards on 519 carries and 32 touchdowns, along with 55 catches for 478 yards and two touchdowns. While Johnson was possibly the best player available left at the position, Detroit could have made a move up to get running back Nick Chubb instead.
Third Round: Tracy Walker – S
In a shocking move in the third round, Detroit drafted safety Tracy Walker from Louisiana Lafayette. While the Lions do need to start preparing for starting safety Glover Quin’s eventual departure, drafting a fifth/sixth round prospect in the third round is a bold move.
Even Walker himself was surprised with the pick, telling Kyle Meinke of MLive.com “I expected to be fifth round, to be honest with you. I guess they just loved the person that I am, and they felt like I can definitely bring a lot of things on the field, as well as off the field. I’m pretty sure my personality, I have a great personality. I love being around people. I love encouraging players and I always have the urge to get better. I believe that’s what set me apart. I can’t really say. They chose me, and I’m just thankful for the opportunity.”
Walker will have to wow coaches in practice if he will be able to see the field in 2018 as Miles Killebrew, Tavon Wilson, Charles Washington, and possibly Quandre Diggs will compete for playing time and while he didn’t do horribly at Louisiana Lafayette, finishing with 269 total tackles, 19 pass deflections, 11 tackles for loss, eight interceptions, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles, he will have to show that he can play at the next level in the NFL, and not just rely on being second cousins with starting cornerback Darius Slay to keep him on the team.
Fourth Round: Da’Shawn Hand – DL
The Lions finally addressed one of their biggest needs in the fourth round of the draft. While many were upset with the timing of the pick, as they could have had a better player or Hand himself in the third round instead of waiting until the fourth round, Hand will still be a big help on the defensive line.
Having been a top 10 recruit coming into Alabama, Hand was hyped up to be a beast on the defensive line. While the Crimson Tide were never able to get the full potential out of Hand, the Detroit Lions will take their shot at trying to get something out of Hand.
While at Alabama, Hand finished with 71 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks, one pass deflection, and one forced fumble. Even though former first-round pick defensive tackle Maurice Hurst was still on the board, the health concerns were too much and this is a safer pick for the future of the Lions.
Fifth Round: Tyrell Crosby – T
Speaking of grades, offensive tackle Tyrell Crosby was an A type of player that fell down draft boards for no apparent reason. Coming into the NFL draft, some scouts had him as the number three tackle overall and a day two grade. When it was in the fifth round and Crosby, Quinn believed it was too good to pass up. Crosby won’t be starting over Wagner, Decker, or Lang anytime soon, but since he could be expandable to guard, Glasgow could have some more competition against him.
Depth on the offensive line is never a bad thing, and we saw that last season as Glasgow was the only offensive lineman to play every snap in 2017. With players going down left and right, having good backups on the offensive line helps you recover when a starter goes down and can prevent you from losing games.
Crosby has the solid protection history like fellow rookie Ragnow, only allowing one sack in his career, he will certainly be able to help keep quarterback Matt Stafford upright if he ever goes in.
Seventh Round: Nick Bawden – FB
A position that the Lions haven’t had a good performer in years has been the fullback position. Jerome Felton was the last fullback in Detroit that could help block for the running backs, power the ball for short yardage, or catch a quick pass in the backfield. Detroit tried replicating it with Michael Burton in 2015, and Detroit even wasted a fifth-round pick on him, instead of waiting until the seventh round like they did with Nick Bawden.
Bawden was the lead blocker for two straight 2,000 yard rushers at San Diego State and while Bawden only has 12 carries for 47 yards in his career, his position isn’t only for running short distances. Bawden also has 30 catches for 240 yards and a touchdown. He can even throw passes too, converting from a quarterback to a fullback, his stats aren’t pretty, going 13/38 for 147 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions, but if the Lions want to run a trick play with him throwing a pass, it could work.
Bawden will easily start at fullback, making linebacker Nick Bellore strictly a linebacker instead of having him play some fullback like he did in 2017. Bawden blocking for the Lions running backs could help end the streak of 68 games without a 100 yard rusher.