Rounds Three And Four Were Probably The Most Controversial Picks In The Detroit Lions Draft, And The Picks Were Certainly Unexpected.
Rounds one and two of the Detroit Lions’ draft came with their surprises, but they couldn’t even compare to rounds three and four.
Round one, the Detroit Lions selected Frank Ragnow. This was surprising, but the pick filled a major hole in the roster with top-tier talent. It made sense.
Round two, the Lions select Kerryon Johnson. I expected the Lions to go defense here, but they got in on the rush on running backs before they were left without options at the position. They picked one of my favorites in the class and filled another position of need.
The Lions surprisingly went offense with both of their first two picks. They bolstered the side of the ball that they were strongest at upon entering the draft. Again, I was surprised, but the picks filled two of the three holes that the team had on offense. Their run on defense could begin. I was fully prepared to start tearing my hair out if the Lions decided to go offense for a third straight pick and take a tight end. I was ready to turn my TV off and quit watching the draft entirely.
So the third round kicks off, and it is not looking good for the Lions. The Giants select Lorenzo Carter with the second pick of the second round, one of the most well-regarded edge rushers in the class, a player that had been linked to the Detroit Lions commonly by the media. That kicked off a mini-run on my favorite defenders left in the class.
Following the Lorenzo Carter pick, Chad Thomas, another edge defender from Miami came off the board. He was another edge defender that I had hoped might end up in Detroit. I just thought it might happen a round later. Justin Reid, the third safety on my board, was selected by the Houston Texans about two rounds later than I thought he should have gone.
Two picks later, Fred Warner, the last of the linebackers that I was excited about as a day one starter, was selected by the 49ers. Two picks after that, Nathan Sheppard, a player that I was very excited for, ended up going to the New York Jets. He was the last interior defender that I was particularly high on (outside of Maurice Hurst, medicals aside).
That was absolutely devastating.
In the first eight picks of the third round, my top remaining edge defender, defensive tackle, linebacker, and safety all came off the board. Those, in my opinion, were the Lions four biggest remaining needs, and all of the top talent came off immediately to kick off the round. This was about as poor a start to the round as I could have imagined.
The picks keep coming off the board, and Sam Hubbard is still available. It hasn’t been all that long since Hubbard was getting commonly mocked to the Detroit Lions in the first round. I wasn’t excited about it then, but I would be absolutely thrilled if he fell to the Lions in the third.
Nope. Bengals take him at the 14th pick of the third round. I supposed that is only fair, given that the Lions swiped Frank Ragnow a pick before the Bengals could select him in round one.
Now I’m a little nervous. There aren’t a ton of players that I think the Lions were considering that I liked in this range. All of those guys came off the board in the first 15 picks of the round. Harrison Phillips and Arden Key were on the board still, and I was not thrilled about either of those guys. I was worried about the off the field and motivation issues with Arden Key and wasn’t particularly interested in him until the fourth round. I had watched every running back that faced Stanford tear up Harrison Phillips and the middle of that defense over the course of my running back scouting, so I wasn’t exactly Phillips’ biggest fan (probably an understatement), but both of those guys had been connected to the Lions at some point during the late stages of the offseason. That worried me.
At this point, I’m willing to fly down to Dallas and beg Bob Quinn to take Maurice Hurst. He filled what I considered to be the most pressing need on the defense, and he was a locked in first round talent that was falling due to medical concerns. If he could play, I wanted him in Detroit. I had heard that he might fall to day three of the NFL Draft, but I thought for sure that someone would have taken a chance on him by now.
More picks came off the board, and the Lions were on the clock. While I was hoping for Maurice Hurst, I knew that it was very unlikely, and there were still a few guys that I liked in this range at positions of immediate need. More than anything, I was hoping that the Lions just didn’t take Harrison Phillips or Arden Key. I just didn’t want them to blow this pick.
The Lions select Tracy Walker, safety out of Louisiana-Lafayette.
Well, that’s an interesting one.
I had never heard of him.
I watched 314 players in this 2018 NFL Draft class, and I have never heard of this guy. The Lions took him in the third round. I was distraught.
In retrospect, I probably should have watched Tracy Walker. Jeff Risdon mocked Tracy Walker to the Lions in his final mock draft. That said, when you’ve put in the amount of time that I put into this draft class, it’s never a good feeling to have your team be the first one to select a player that you haven’t watched, especially in the third round.
Both of the previous picks were surprising to me, but I was able to get onboard pretty quickly. This third round pick was tough for me. I understand the need to replace Glover Quin soon, but the secondary is definitely the strongest part of the Lions’ defense and is among the strongest position groups on the team. A player I haven’t heard of, in a position group of strength, in the third round was certainly a disappointment. The third round.
I thought that the Lions could have definitely gotten him at a later pick, but reports started coming out quickly that, if the Lions hadn’t taken him, the Panthers were expected to select him a few picks later.
Lions keep picking players before other teams can. Detroit drafted Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson at No. 43 with Washington preparing to take him at No. 44. Then Detroit drafted UL Laf CB Tracy Walker at No. 82 before Carolina could get him at No. 85. Always stories behind each pick.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 28, 2018
Alright, so maybe there is something going on here. Maybe he really is a very good player that somehow slipped through everyone’s draft boards and we all just missed.
Fellow Detroit Lions Podcast writer Bryce Rossler spent most of the night after day three of the NFL Draft watching film on Tracy Walker. I was hoping that his analysis would provide some sort of optimism. I really wanted a reason to feel good about the pick. I wanted to believe that everyone had missed something. Bryce watched the film and came up with this.
It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to read. As more and more people start digging into Walker’s film, the general consensus is that he s a better fit at corner than he is at safety. That makes this pick even stranger to me. Safety was a need in this draft, not an immediate need, but a need nonetheless. Corner is a position where the Lions are already going to have to make some tough decisions for the 53 man roster.
This was a very strange pick in an already surprising Detroit Lions Draft, and while I like some of the traits that he showed on tape, I’m still having a hard time warming up to the pick.
Day three kicked off with round four on Saturday morning, and I was having a REALLY hard time waking up. The Lions had traded away their fourth round pick to move up and take Kerryon Johnson, and they had given up their sixth round pick for former Detroit Lion, Greg Robinson. Seventh-round picks generally don’t make the roster. This was probably going to be a quiet day for the Detroit Lions.
Well, as rounds one, two, and three showed me, I had literally no grasp on Bob Quinn’s draft strategy going into this one. Bob Quinn traded BACK into the fourth round after giving up the pick earlier in the draft. At that point, I was both ecstatic and upset. It was advertised as a “trade up” which generally means that you are trading away a pick in the current draft as well as additional assets. Given that the Lions only had a pick in the fifth and seventh rounds, this could be essentially the Lions last meaningful pick. That was concerning.
So, completely unprepared for a Lions’ fourth-round selection, I start looking at who is available that I like in this area of the draft, and Josh Sweat is still available. He’s a raw, but physically gifted pass rusher that has a lot of upside, something that I’d be very pleased with in the fourth round. Jon Ledyard, someone who I respect a great deal, had him listed as one of his 19 first round grades. I wasn’t as high on Sweat, but the fourth round is a steal for a player with that kind of upside at a position of desperate need.
The pick came in fast. Da’Shawn Hand. Initially disappointed. Hand for me projected as nothing more than defensive line depth. That’s ok, and I’m not particularly opposed to the player. My issue was that we traded in to get defensive line depth, and did so with some pass rushers that I liked, beyond Josh Sweat, still available.
I softened a bit on this when I realized that the Lions only gave up a future third-round pick, rather than giving up more current draft capital to get back into the fourth round. I still don’t like the idea of giving up future draft capital for a player that I think projects as depth, but I feel better about it than I did when I believed that the Lions gave up a fifth-round pick as well.
I don’t hate the pick, I’m just lukewarm on it.
Overall, rounds three and four were pretty disappointing for me. I’m still pretty baffled by the Walker pick. I’m hoping that Patricia was an advocate of that pick and sees something that he specifically likes. I want to believe that the Lions have a specific role planned out for him, and I find it hard to believe that they don’t, given the strangeness of the pick, but it is certainly the type of pick that I have a hard time getting excited about until I see results.
The Hand pick is something that I have fewer qualms with. I’m still not a big fan of his game, I don’t see the upside as a pass rusher that some people seem to see, and I’m not usually fond of giving up future assets for a player that I don’t see as an impact player. This is another guy that I would expect Patricia has a specific role in mind for. Since the draft, Bob Quinn has traded Akeem Spence to the Miami Dolphins, an indication that either they are targeting a post-draft free agent, or they have someone better suited for the role. I would assume (something that has not worked out well for me throughout this draft process), that the player they see as a better fit is Da’shawn Hand.