The reviews are in. Alex Reno gave the Detroit Lions 2017 draft class a respectable B grade, while the readers concurred in the attached poll. That mostly follows suit with how the team graded out during the first two days of the 2017 NFL Draft. Essentially, the Lions drafted well, but not spectacularly.
However, let’s get out of our own little bubble, and see what the experts are saying about the Lions’ draft haul. Here’s a look around the league at what they’re saying about Detroit draft.
But this is a team that had major pass-rush issues last season, and they waited until the sixth round to take a defensive lineman. That's not wise in a division with Aaron Rodgers. Second-round corner Teez Tabor was a reach at that spot. I just didn't think it was a good haul for the Lions.
The issue here is no pass rusher, whether it’s coming from inside or the edge, until the sixth round.
Detroit could end up hitting on Davis and Tabor, but there just isn't enough here to warrant a higher grade given the lack of a pass-rush addition outside a late bet on Jeremiah Ledbetter.
Teammates at Florida, first-round LB Jarrad Davis and second-round CB Teez Tabor – assuming his athletic limitations don't sink him – should be in the mix to start right away. Third-round WR Kenny Golladay won't make anyone forget Calvin Johnson, but he should be a nice red-zone option at 6-4, 218 pounds.
Jarrad Davis was a reach, but one of need and one that you won't be burned on — he's a high-character player who will contribute. Teez Tabor was a great value in the second round — boom-or-bust with a huge possible boom. I like the Jalen Reeves-Maybin pick in round four, but Kenny Golladay, the Northern Illinois wide receiver in the third round is absurd and pulls down this whole draft.
There was nothing wrong with Detroit taking LB Jarrad Davis 21st overall … unless Reuben Foster becomes an NFL standout.
GM Bob Quinn continues to put in understated work molding this roster. Linebackers Jarrad Davis (No. 21 pick) and Jalen Reeves-Maybin (No. 124) could be the long-term future together for the Lions, although both come with injury concerns. Detroit also passed on Reuben Foster to take Davis. Cornerback Teez Tabor (No. 53) tested like he’d never run in his life, but he’s much better when it counts—with him and nickel CB Jamal Agnew (No. 165) in the fold, the Lions could ship out a veteran cornerback or two.
The Lions were desperate for an upgrade at linebacker, and they got a very good one in Davis. His athleticism and toughness are evident. If he can stay healthy and be an instinctive leader in the middle, Detroit is set at the position for a while. Teez Tabor is a first-round player with a third-round 40-yard dash, so picking him up in the second round made a lot of sense. Kenny Golladay is an interesting receiver, but was probably selected a round early, maybe two.
The Lions didn’t get all that many positive reviews. I didn’t see one outlet give Detroit an “A” and that comes as little surprise. Not because there is some national conspiracy against the Detroit Lions, but because there really aren’t that many picks that stand out, both as a positive or negative.
Detroit had a lot of what many people are calling “reaches.” Of course, what that term really means is that the Lions’ draft board did not line up with the media’s on several occasions. The picks of Kenny Golladay, Jarrad Davis, Teez Tabor and even Jalen Reeves-Maybin were all considered too high by some. But the Lions placing more value on these picks than certain media members means very little in the grand scheme of things.
The more fair criticism of the Lions’ draft class is the lack of pass rush help. Many, including myself, considered a pass rusher among the Lions’ biggest needs, whether it came from the edge or the interior. The Lions didn’t address this need until the sixth round, which is to say, they didn’t really address it at all. Several analysts rightfully hammered Detroit for this, even though Bob Quinn expressed his full confidence in the Lions defensive line, both before and after the draft.