In case you missed it, the 2017 NFL Draft occurred over the past weekend, months of speculation, predictions, and all around madness is over. The Detroit Lions entered the first round with eight picks in their possession. But finished the weekend with nine total selections.
With multiple picks in the fourth and six rounds, Detroit took six defensive players and three offensive. By definition, the Lions drafted a player for each of their needs aside from the running back position. To say the least, Detroit did not care about making the “sexy” selections on Draft Day.
Listed round by round, here are the new additions to the Lions’ roster.
|1 (21)||Jarrad Davis||LB||Florida|
|2 (53)||Teez Tabor||CB||Florida|
|3 (96)||Kenny Galladay||WR||Northern Illinois|
|4 (124)||Jaylen Reeves-Maybin||LB||Tennessee|
|4 (127)||Michael Roberts||TE||Toledo|
|5 (165)||Jamal Agnew||CB||San Diego|
|6 (205)||Jeremiah Ledbetter||DT/DE||Arkansas|
|6 (215)||Brad Kaaya||QB||Miami|
|7 (250)||Pat O’Connor||DE||Eastern Michigan|
Every year after a draft concludes, in the NFL, it begins the evaluation process of a team’s roster on who could be in and who could be out after training camp. The Lions are no exception this 2017 draft class could mean some players could be on the move before, during or after this season.
1. Odd Men Out
Current Lions starting middle linebacker Tahir Whitehead finds himself in an interesting predicament. The addition of first-round pick Jarrad Davis will mean Whitehead will have to move outside after playing inside the previous seasons. Selecting a linebacker round one of the draft is not a situation where a team is picking to develop, they intend to have that prospect play right away.
For Whitehead, he now finds himself in not just a contract year, but a competition for one of the starting outside linebacker roles. The selection of Davis at twenty-one overall was not the only indication Tahir Whitehead may be on the move. Detroit selected Tennessee linebacker Jaylen Reeves-Maybin in the fourth round. The former Volunteer is a linebacker General Manager Bob Quinn was very high on, with a style of play that is comparable to Whitehead’s.
Outside of the draft acquisitions, Detroit also added linebacker Paul Worrilow who is expected to compete for a starting role. Coming off his best statistical season, Tahir Whitehead faces uncertainty heading into 2017. Having the experience in this system may give the former Temple product the advantage in the beginning, but how long could that last? Whitehead will need to come in ready to face adversity this season.
Prediction: Tahir Whitehead is a starter at OLB, but will become a free agent after the season.
2. Odd Men Out
Cornerbacks Not Named Darius Slay or DJ Hayden
Much like the linebacker position, the Lions picked up two cornerbacks in the NFL Draft; Detroit was looking to more defensive playmakers. The Lions had Jalen “Teez” Tabor fall to them in round two. Tabor is a confident corner much like current Lions corner Darius Slay Jr. The Florida product was a first-round talent if not for character issues, so he is expected to see playing time early this season.
Tabor’s draft location most likely indicates he will not be cut by the end of training camp. That means one of the players currently at corner will potentially see the door before the start of the season. The likely candidates are Quandre Diggs, Jason Bademosi, Nevin Lawson, and Alex Carter. All four of these guys did not live up to their hype, or follow up a previously successful season in 2016.
To add insult to injury, the Lions nabbed a speedster in the secondary from San Diego named Jamal Agnew. Now Agnew will need more work than Tabor. However, he will not be expected to be cut before at least one season with the team. The issues in the secondary last season, whether it was injuries or poor play, call for any team to make changes.
Prediction: In, Quandre Diggs and Jason Bademosi. Out, Nevin Lawson and Alex Carter.
3. Odd Men Out
Coming out of Notre Dame, TJ Jones was expected to contribute even though he was a sixth-round pick. Since then, Jones has accumulated 225 receiving yards thus far in his career and has not made much of an impact on offense. Other than Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, the Lions have a thin roster at wideout.
The thin roster will give TJ Jones a good chance of making the roster yet again after training camp. However, Detroit selected a big receiver in Kenny Golladay from NIU in the third round. Bringing on another body into the receiver room will undoubtedly push someone out. Who that may be, we do not know in the interim, but some signs point at TJ Jones being that guy.
Not to mention, the Lions did sign receiver Keshawn Martin in free agency this year. While the former 49er, Texan, and Patriot is not a huge name, he is a valuable pick up. The veteran wideout will make an impact in the kicking game and will be a contributor as a fourth or fifth receiver on the roster. Detroit should hold on to as many serviceable receivers, but they won’t be able to keep all of them when having to make the cuts down to fifty-three.
Prediction: TJ Jones cut during training camp.
4. Lions’ Winners from Draft Day
When the final name was called on Saturday (QB Chad Kelly), the Detroit Lions had not selected a running back with any of their selections. Meaning the Lions coaching staff and front office believe in the backs they already have. Ameer Abdullah will be the starter, and the cast around him still has the reigns on the roster. The sense is that with the rebuilt offensive line, Detroit must believe they can succeed with the rushers they have.
Even though the Lions took a tight end in this draft, it is not an indication that Ebron is on his way out the door yet. His career has been underwhelming for a top ten draft pick, but Eric Ebron still has the potential to break out. Toledo tight end Michael Roberts is a receiving threat, but will not take Ebron’s place as a down the field threat. Eric Ebron is safe, for now.
Many experts and fans alike believe the Lions did not win at the defensive line position, but Detroit thinks they did. The roster the Lions have is solid enough (in Detroit’s opinion) to not spend more than a seventh-round pick on an edge rusher. No offense to Eastern Michigan DE Pat O’Connor, but he is not set up to upend someone’s roster spot at this moment. However, the Lions’ defensive ends did come out of draft day still with the confidence of their coaching staff.