The 2018 NFL Draft was one of the more hotly anticipated drafts in recent memory. That usually wouldn’t be saying much, as each draft has it’s own specific buzz around it. However, this draft seemed to be a bit different. It seemed to be captivating in a way we haven’t seen in a while.
Now that the dust is starting to settle, we can look back on the last three days and evaluate. Yes, it is too early to definitively “grade” these draft classes, but we can take a look at what each pick has the potential to bring to the table.
This won’t involve grading these picks, if you couldn’t tell. I find that to be a bit condescending. Who am I to “grade” what an NFL front office does? They know more than I do. All I’m going to do is offer an opinion and a prediction as to where I see these guys in 2018. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the team that will be highlighted, the Detroit Lions.
The Lions entered this draft with a few holes on their roster. The most important need, in the minds of a lot of people, was the defensive line. The run game was also of importance. They also could have stood to add a tight end and/or linebacker.
Detroit, however, had only six picks, tied for the least amount of picks in the league. The Lions were reportedly looking to move down, that way they could add more picks by the end of the draft.
Detroit didn’t trade back, but did trade up on two occasions.
Round 1, Pick 20: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
This pick didn’t make a lot of sense to me at first. I admittedly hated it when I first heard it. I had James Daniels out of Iowa as my top center, so Ragnow going first didn’t sit well. However, after taking some time and digging deeper on Ragnow, I love this.
Ragnow didn’t allow a sack his entire three year career at Arkansas, and he played guard in his sophomore year. Ragnow stands his ground, creates holes for his running backs, and gives the quarterback time to read the defense. He also practiced at left tackle a lot for Arkansas. He has knowledge of all line positions, and that could be valuable.
General Manager Bob Quinn said that Ragnow is an interior lineman with Detroit, and will compete with Graham Glasgow, Kenny Wiggins, and Joe Dahl for a starting role. I predict Ragnow will start at center, which will kick Glasgow to his natural guard position.
Round 2, Pick 43 (from NE): Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn
The Lions traded picks #51 and #117 to go up and get Johnson. The story behind this trade up was to get ahead of Washington at #44, and were prepared to take Johnson there, according to ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter.
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
Johnson is a three down back with patience that has been likened to that of Le’Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He figures to be Detroit’s premier back, as LeGarette Blount was signed on a one year deal and likely won’t re-sign. The other two featured backs, Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick, look to receive demotions. Abdullah has had problems with fumbles, while Riddick is more of a pass-catcher.
My prediction is that I believe Johnson wins the starting running back job with Blount being the third down back and Abdullah/Riddick being rotated in.
Round 3, Pick 82: Tracy Walker, S, Louisiana
This pick made no real sense at the time. Yes, the Lions were in need of depth in the secondary, but this seemed to be a reach. Mike Mayock said on NFL Network that most of the league had Walker in the fifth or sixth round, and Walker himself expected to go in the fifth. As mentioned in the Schefter tweet above, the Lions reached for Walker because there was another team prepared to reach, the Carolina Panthers.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this is a poor pick. Head coach Matt Patricia loves these kinds of players. Walker is versatile and loves to hit, but he struggles with open field hits. In addition, his speed is clocked at a 4.51 in the 40-yard dash at the combine. He’ll need time to adjust to the NFL, but it’s not a bad pick.
I predict that Walker will rotate in the secondary next year. He should be Glover Quin’s heir appearent.
Round 4, Pick 114 (from NE): Da’Shawn Hand, DL, Alabama
The Lions were without a fourth after trading up to select Johnson, but used a 2019 third round selection to move back into the fourth. With that new fourth, they selected a versatile defensive linemen in Da’Shawn Hand.
I believed Hand could have been selected in the third round, so this is a nice selection. Hand played both defensive end and tackle under Nick Saban at Alabama. He is all muscle and can quickly alter his rush to attack a scrambling quarterback. There are questions about whether he’ll be able to match his college production at the pros. All in all, it’s not a horrible selection for a team in need of help on the defensive line.
I expect for Hand to rotate in on the defensive line this year, and he could very well start next year if Ziggy Ansah goes in free agency.
Round 5, Pick 153: Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon
Crosby is a guy who definitely should have gone on Day Two, but fell due to concussion concerns. This is my favorite pick of the Lions draft class. He is a player, like Ragnow, who didn’t allow a sack in the 2017 season.
On top of that, his size allows him to engage defenders, and he blocks well against the run. Although, Crosby does get a bit grabby when in pass protection, and the concussions are an obvious red flag, but the Lions definitely beefed up the offensive line depth here. In fact, offensive line depth isn’t something the Lions actually have a lot of.
In the bigger picture, Crosby will back up Rick Wagner at right tackle. He played both tackles in college, but profiles better on the right side. There was talk of him being kicked inside to guard, but I can’t see that happening.
Round 7, Pick 237: Nick Bawden, FB, San Diego State
The Lions added another piece to the run game by selecting Bawden, a quarterback turned fullback. Bob Quinn said he believes that this is a good value pick, but I don’t agree with that. Bawden has trouble blocking at the second level, which is a concern obviously. When he lays a hit, however, he has big pop.
I do agree with Quinn’s reasoning behind the selection. He said that while the team had the impression they could have signed him in free agency, it would have been difficult. This is because the Lions got rid of the fullback position last season. A fullback likely wouldn’t have signed with a team that didn’t have a spot for him.
I predict that Bawden will make the team and should provide some help for that shinny new run game.
There you have it. This is my assessment of the Lions draft class. If you have any disagreements or comments, please feel free to let me know on Twitter. You can find me @SickeningSum86.
The Bob Quinn paraphrases were taken from this interview.
Featured Photo Credit: Max Ortiz/Detroit News