That being said, don’t be surprised if this is just the beginning of lowered expectations for the Detroit Lions. A lot of people look at the season Detroit had last year and view it as “lucky.”
Well it appears that pessimism has spread to the Lions’ 2017 NFL Draft choices. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com ranked all 32 teams’ draft classes for 2017 and the Lions’ nine draft picks landed them 30th on the list. Here’s the explanation from Zierlein:
The Lions were starving for help at linebacker and got their man in Jarrad Davis in Round One. They added more talent at the position in Jaylen [sic] Reeves-Maybin. Teez Tabor's slow 40-yard-dash times failed to scare off the Lions, but we'll find out if that was a mistake. The Lions found players to fill needs, but I don't believe this will go down as a memorable draft for them.
Obviously any sort of definitive analysis of a draft class just a few days after the picks were made is a fool’s errand. I don’t fault Zierlein for making the list, as this is the kind of sports media we live in today. I have a problem delaying gratification, too. I want returns on investments and I want them now. Power rankings are guaranteed clicks, and I’m admittedly part of the problem, both in terms of creating and consuming content.
But what puzzles me about Zierlein’s ranking is his lack of justification. His analysis of the Lions’ draft is mostly positive, yet the entirety of his reasoning for the low ranking is “I don't believe this will go down as a memorable draft for them.”
There is plenty of room for criticism for Detroit’s choices. Both Teez Tabor and Kenny Golladay were uncharacteristically risky picks from Quinn, and both were selected in the crucial first two days of the draft. The Lions also failed to address their defensive line until the sixth round, despite the fact that Detroit’s front four was one of their biggest weaknesses in 2016. Of course, given the undertaking of a list like this, maybe Zierlein simply didn’t have the room to go into detail to explain the Lions’ ranking.
Still, it’s hard to see an apt justification for Detroit to land so low when a team like the Bears—who Zierlein ranked 22nd—shelled out half of their draft to take the non-consensus top quarterback in the draft. Zierlein even admits he “can’t find any reasonable defense” for Chicago’s decision to move up one spot in the draft to draft Mitch Trubisky. Yet a drastic move like that didn’t sink them to the bottom 10 on his list.
Of course, maybe we’re all the fools and Zierlein is right. Check back here in three years.