There are plenty of interesting storyline from the first week of Detroit Lions training camp, but none are ever more juicy than the rookies. Everyone wants to know how the rookies look and want clear signs that Bob Quinn is making the right choices.
Of course, it’s way too early to make any real firm declarations about Quinn’s second draft class. In fact, it’ll be too early by this time next year, too. But for those dying for some rookie news, here’s a recap of where each of the Lions’ 2017 draft picks stands after a week of training camp practices.
LB Jarrad Davis
As expected, Jarrad Davis has immediately assumed and maintained his position as the starting middle linebacker.
“He’s performing well,” head coach Jim Caldwell said of his play on Friday. “He’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but he certainly works at it and he’s doing a nice job just in terms of the overall progression.”
One of the things that has really emerged is Davis’ ability to lead a defense. Davis was seen barking out orders and already looks the part of a leadership role. Also, there’s this:
Jarrad Davis is good in coverage. That's a relief.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) August 4, 2017
Reviews of Davis’ first week in camp are almost universally positive, but until the teams start really hitting each other, it’s hard to really gauge how effective a linebacker truly is. This week’s joint practices and preseason game will really be Davis’ first test.
CB Teez Tabor
On the other end of the spectrum, Teez Tabor has been getting hammered by reporters through a week of camp. Here’s just a sampling:
He's often matched against Jared Abbrederis in one-on-one drills, and has had trouble staying with one of the Lions' most precise route-runners. His lack of speed has been evident on deep routes.
Tabor said after practice that he's had a lot of ups and downs in training camp, but I'm seeing a whole lot more of the latter than the former. He was beat by Abbrederis for two more long touchdowns Friday, and lost Kenny Golladay on a go route for another score.
From Michael Rothstein:
So far, Tabor has been inconsistent. There have been flashes of his ability with some pass breakups, but especially in one-on-one drills, he’s been beat deep.
The good news is that Tabor has looked a little better as of late. Though he gave up a few receptions during Saturday’s mock game, his coverage was noticeably more blanketing.
Still, it’s going to be a rough road for Tabor in his rookie year. Cornerbacks usually have to take it slow, and with Detroit’s current set of defensive backs, they aren’t going to rush Tabor into any situations in which he’s too uncomfortable with.
WR Kenny Golladay
If you’ve read anything Lions-related in the past seven days, there’s likely at least one paragraph about how well Kenny Golladay is doing. Golladay’s first week of training camp was so good, these are a few of the top headlines when you Google “Kenny Golladay:”
- Lions WR Kenny Golladay looks devastating in the red zone
- Chad Johnson: Lions’ Kenny Golladay will be ‘special’
- NIU product Kenny Golladay standing out early in Lions camp
Jim Caldwell has been more cautious in his praise of Golladay. “Let’s see how he matches up against some of the guys that are in this league that have been around a while, but we like what he’s doing thus far,” Caldwell said.
We’ll get a chance to see how Golladay measures up against other this week during joint practices and the preseason.
LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin
It’s been pretty quiet for the Lions’ first fourth-round pick. There’s a lot of optimism bubbling below the surface, but it doesn’t seem like he’s really in the Lions’ plans to take on a defensive role in 2017.
With that being said, Reeves-Maybin has distinguished himself a bit as a special teamer.
Really good to see Reeves-Maybin make a play out there on special teams. Jace had no where to run on the punt return.— Alex Reno (@alex_reno) August 5, 2017
Reeves-Maybin’s athleticism makes him a great candidate to be a significant player on special teams in 2017, but he still has a lot to prove as a defender—as would any rookie at this point in their career.
TE Michael Roberts
With Eric Ebron sidelined since Day 1 of training camp the Lions have been getting a good look at Michael Roberts. Though he’s certainly been overshadowed by the emergence of Darren Fells, Roberts has managed to give off a fairly good impression in his first week.
Though he’s coming along slow, Roberts gave the Lions a reminder of why they drafted him on Sunday—for his red zone skills. “Over and over again Sunday, the rookie tight end seemed to come up with difficult catches,” ESPN’s Rothstein wrote on Sunday night.
But if there’s one issue that’s emerged from his game, it’s fumbles.
Now Michael Roberts fumbles after making a catch. We've also seen some of those.— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) August 5, 2017
Fumbling is not an uncommon thing among rookies, but it’s obviously a very big deal. It’ll be something to keep an eye on going forward, but nothing to panic about yet.
CB Jamal Agnew
No third-day draft pick has received more hype after one week of training back than Jamal Agnew. Not only has Agnew displayed a good amount of competence as a defender, but he may already be the front-runner to win Detroit’s returner job.
Many—myself included—questioned whether Agnew could make a quick transition from a small school to the NFL, but Agnew has answered all of his critics in just a few practices.
His speed, his instincts and his vision as a returner were all obviously apparent through one week of camp. However, if you think he’s ready to walk out there in Week 1 as Detroit’s starting nickel cornerback, pump the brakes.
@JeffRisdon Someone hasn't seen him getting repeatedly wrecked by Jace Billingsley. Maybe he will be starter Week1, but long way to go.— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) August 5, 2017
DT Jeremiah Ledbetter
With all the injuries along the defensive line the Lions have taken a good look at Ledbetter, and even tried him on the outside a bit.
Though Ledbetter has even received some first-team reps, he hasn’t really moved the needle much either way. At this point, he still has a long way to go to make this roster, but if the likes of Armonty Bryant, Cornelius Washington and Ezekiel Ansah can’t make it on the field, Ledbetter will have all of the opportunity to showcase his talent.
QB Brad Kaaya
It hasn’t been a pretty start for the sixth-round quarterback out of Miami. Kaaya has been continually dinged for his accuracy and arm strength throughout the first week of camp.
Though Jake Rudock is going through plenty of struggles on his own, Kaaya’s seem to be much worse. Just take this passage from MLive’s Kyle Meinke:
Brad Kaaya, on the other hand, continues to look very much like a rookie. Assuming nobody gets hurt, there's a 0 percent chance he beats out Rudock for the backup job.
Kaaya, like any sixth-round rookie, was expected to be behind this early in camp. And there is definitely enough time for him to rebound. But at this point, it looks like Kaaya is simply fighting for a spot on the roster, not the backup job.
DE Pat O’Connor
Like Ledbetter, Pat O’Connor has been getting a lot of reps out of pure necessity given Detroit’s defensive line situation. Unfortunately, O’Connor hasn’t done much with them yet.
Against a struggling rotation of left tackles, O’Connor hasn’t manage to take advantage of his reps, and has to be considered a longshot to make the Lions’ roster right now.
RB Tion Green - Green came into training camp with a lot of hype around him. Many believed Green could fight for the Lions’ fourth running back spot, but he is still clearly way down on Detroit’s depth chart. He’ll have to shine in limited snaps during the preseason.
C Leo Koloamatangi - Many presumed that Graham Glasgow would be the Lions’ backup center in case of an emergency, but Koloamatangi has been taking the majority of the snaps there during camp and has looked pretty good doing it. He could sneak his way onto the roster.
OT Storm Norton - Norton drew a lot of attention last Tuesday when he took all of the first-team reps at left tackle. By the next day, however, Norton was back towards the bottom of the depth chart, because Greg Robinson and Cyrus Kouandjio were healthy enough for team drills.
DE Jeremiah Valoaga - Valoaga only has three practices under his belt, coming off the PUP list just last Friday. However, he made a name for himself during the Lions’ mock game on Saturday and followed it up with an adequate practice Sunday. If Valoaga continues at the pace he started at, there will be a place on this roster for him.