Bob Quinn is in his second year as the Detroit Lions general manager and is still building on his solid first season where the team saw a first-round exit from the playoffs. After improving multiple positions in 2016, Quinn has already taken strides to improve the Lions offense by adding a couple starting offensive linemen and a good blocking tight end. The defense has seen far less attention, but with the NFL Draft upcoming, we’ve been looking at who the team may target. Quinn recently made some statements that give us some clues, and along with team visits and workouts, we can start connecting some dots.
Speed and athleticism are some of the first things Bob Quinn looks at when evaluating players. @ttwentyman— Detroit Lions (@Lions) April 19, 2017
As most of you are by now aware, we tend to favor athleticism as well here at Pride Of Detroit. Using Relative Athletic Scores, or RAS, we often take a look at how players measured out relative to their position groups, and it sounds like Quinn and his Lions have a similar metric in place. Quinn has said that speed is one of the first things he looks at. If that’s the case, it narrows the field significantly. Players like Charles Harris and Derek Barnett are likely off the board if Quinn favors speed so much, despite them being mocked often by national outlets.
Bob Quinn said the days of having three linebackers on the field are "very, very few." Speed is his No. 1 factor to look at for prospects.— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) April 14, 2017
Boy does it show. The first few prospects the Lions looked at for cornerbacks were all elite RAS athletes like Ahkello Witherspoon, Fabian Moreau and Chidobe Awuzie. It’s no surprise they have researched players like Takkarist McKinley, T.J. Watt and Haason Reddick, all of whom measured out with great speed for their respective positions. Quinn is very clearly putting a premium on athleticism.
Take for example the RAS of each of the players the team has had official visits with:
Draft Visits by RAS
The team has met with more elite athletes than they have below average ones, and most of their visits have been with players who, at least, measured above average. This all points to Bob Quinn “walking the walk” in regards to taking players with speed and athleticism. Of the players who measured below average, they fall into one of two categories: Fast, as is the case of Stacy Coley, and big. Damore’ea Stringfellow, Jeremiah Valoaga, Teez Tabor and David Sharpe all measured well above average for size at their position, so it’s possible Quinn’s preference for speed extends to “if you can’t get them fast, get them big.”
We only have one season of progress to base Bob Quinn on, but history has shown his preference towards athletic prospects to be a successful one. The trick now is going to be making sure he selects the correct fast players and whether he has the coaching staff to put it all together. Quinn has built himself a good deal of goodwill by helping build a playoff team in his first year, but can he build upon that early success? Time, and wins, will tell.