The Detroit Lions are trending towards a top 10 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft after their latest loss to the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving. The Lions are currently 4-7 on the season, tied with three other teams for the seventh worse record in the NFL. Of those four teams, the Lions have the second easiest strength of schedule, meaning they’re currently slated for the eighth overall pick in the draft. Here’s a look at the top 10 according to NFL.com.
- 49ers: 2-9 (.455 strength of schedule)
- Raides: 2-9 (.517)
- Cardinals: 2-9 (.533)
- (tied) Jets: 3-8 (.488)
4. (tied) Giants: 3-8 (.488)
- Jaguars: 3-8 (.533)
- Buccaneers: 4-7 (.504)
- Lions: 4-7 (.521)
- Bills: 4-7 (.545)
- Falcons: 4-7 (.554)
The Lions haven’t picked this high in the NFL Draft since 2013 when they added Ezekiel Ansah. They haven’t held the eighth overall pick since 1974 when they took linebacker Ed O’Neil.
However, the eighth overall pick has resulted in a ton of success recently. Just take a look at the past four selections in that draft position:
2018: LB Roquan Smith
2017: RB Christian McCaffrey
2016: OT Jack Conklin (All Pro)
2015: DE Vic Beasley (All Pro, Pro Bowler)
In just the past four years, that draft position has resulted in just about every kind of game-changing player you can think of: a versatile, every-down back, a pass rusher, a pass protector and a valuable linebacker. The Lions could certainly use a playmaker on either side of the ball in 2019, and recent history suggests they could absolutely get one.
That’s the good news. Here’s the bad. The previous five years, however, have been an absolute disaster for the eighth overall pick.
2014: CB Justin Gilbert
2013: WR Tavon Austin
2012: QB Ryan Tannehill
2011: QB Jake Locker
2010: LB Rolando McClain
We’ve got two quarterbacks whose careers have yet to get off the ground, a cornerback who started a total of three games before his three-year career was over, a linebacker whose off-the-field problem had him bouncing around teams just three years into his short-lived career, and a wide receiver who has never had more than 510 receiving yards in a season.
As with any spot on the draft, the position is only as good as the general manager who is using it. Even including his time as a director of pro personnel with the Patriots, Lions GM Bob Quinn has never had a top 10 pick. Back when he was a national scout in New England, the Patriots selected two-time Pro Bowler Jerod Mayo with the 10th overall pick in 2008.
Overall, if the Lions continue this trajectory, this will be a brand-new experience for Quinn. As the Lions general manager heads into one of the most important offseasons of his career, he can’t afford to miss on this opportunity. He’s already lost a lot of good will with how the team dropped off this year, and it would be hard to see his reputation survive a whiff in the top 10 of the draft.
At least history—at least recent history—is on his side.