From the instant Bob Quinn was hired as the Detroit Lions general manager in January, he made it clear he wanted to build a respectable culture in Detroit. "The two things that are zero tolerance are domestic violence and dangerous weapons," Quinn said during his introductory press conference. A week before the draft started, Quinn drove the point home. "There will be a fair number of guys that we will not consider for character concerns and off-the-field reasons." The point was clear: personality will be a big part of the Lions' draft evaluation.
Which is why it was a little surprising when the Lions called the names of their two draft selections on Friday.
Let's start with Graham Glasgow, whose off-field troubles are well-documented. Glasgow blew a .13 while being behind the wheel of a car, then broke his subsequent probation a year later. His actions nearly cost him a spot on the University of Michigan football team, who suspended him for a game.
By all accounts, Glasgow has cleaned up his act. Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh had him change his immediate social circle, by surrounding him with his new roommate: his 81-year old grandmother. In Glasgow's senior year, he developed into a leader on the team.
Still, addiction is a hard thing to break. Driving while extremely impaired a single time is one thing, failing to quit booze during probation is another. This is something the Lions, and Glasgow, cannot simply ignore.
On the other hand, A'Shawn Robinson, the Lions' second-round choice doesn't have any off-the-field issues. His character concerns take place on the field, which is often times more concerning for a prospect. Many analysts have dogged Robinson for taking plays off and general laziness during games:
"Wears himself out and just goes through the motions on several snaps"
"All I'm saying is that if I were actually in a position to pick or not pick this kid, one of the top things I would dig into is his work ethic. If I couldn't find anybody who would say anything other than that he was a hard worker, I'd just assume those plays were an anomaly. However, if I did hear any rumblings about bad work ethic, it would probably knock him down my board significantly, like out of the first round completely."
"Just a big guy that doesn’t really play hard. They rotate him out. He’ll flash some run stop."
The good news is the Lions have been getting the most out of their defensive line prospects lately. Defensive line coach Kris Kocurek is a universally praised teacher that has been a valued commodity of the Lions defense since joining the team in 2009.
Quinn noted last week that just because a player is red-flagged, doesn't mean they are necessarily taken off their board completely. "It's not like these guys are off the board," Quinn said. "You've just got to manage the risk and reward of taking a guy like that."
So perhaps seeing a first-round talent like Robinson fall into their laps deep into the second round was enough reward for the Lions to jump on the opportunity. But if the Lions want to cash in on their Day 2 selections, they'll have to tackle the risks in that equation head on.