While much of the focus on the NFL Draft is on the players selected, and how their lives have changed forever, some of the players already on NFL rosters are equally impacted by their team’s choices.
The Detroit Lions made a few surprising moves on Saturday, and some players benefitted from the selections, while others could be looking for new jobs very shortly. So let’s get into some Detroit Lions Day 2 winners and losers.
“Imagine if Matthew Stafford had a running game,” has been a popular mantra among Lions fans during his entire career. Well, they may not have to imagine much longer. After selecting a center in the first round, the Lions traded up for running back Kerryon Johnson in the second. Adding in that the Lions already brought in LeGarrette Blount in free agency and have a whole new offensive line coach, and you can see Detroit cares about both protecting Stafford and giving him a more balanced offense.
Cornelius Washington and Akeem Spence
Both Washington and Spence were considered potential cap casualties this year. The Lions would save a significant amount of money if they decided to move on from either Washington ($2.7 million) or Spence ($2.75 million), both of whom underwhelmed last year and seem like odd fits with new head coach Matt Patricia.
But the Lions failed to add any defensive line talent in the first three round of the draft, and unless they trade up on Day 3, they won’t be able to address the position until Round 5 at the earliest. For now, their spots on the roster look pretty safe.
While Reeves-Maybin’s spot on the roster was likely never in jeopardy, the fact that Detroit did not add another linebacker in the first two days in the draft shows that the coaching staff may have some confidence in his ability to be a significant contributor in 2018. Detroit went heavy on linebacker in free agency, adding Devon Kennard, Christian Jones and Jonathan Freeny. Jones’ addition, specifically, cast doubts that Maybin may not be due for an improved sophomore season like some fans had hoped, but with no additional competition (yet) it looks like Reeves-Maybin could get a fair shot at a starting job this. At the very least, he seems like to see playing time in certain subpackages.
After Detroit drafted a center in the first round, there was some belief that the Lions were satisfied with their running back situation and would give Ameer Abdullah another chance behind a better offensive line and a new blocking scheme.
However, when the Lions not only drafted Kerryon Johnson, but traded up to get him, it told you all you need to know what they think of Abdullah. Ameer only has one more year left on his rookie contract, but he may not even make it that long. At this point, he’s both redundant and expendable.
The Lions looked pretty excited about adding Tracy Walker in the third round, a small-school safety that isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty in the running game. Does that description sound familiar? Killebrew was drafted under almost the exact same circumstances, and while Patricia likes as many safeties as he can get, it’s hard to view this move as anything other than a decision to create more competition for Killebrew.
If there was any chance that Dahl was going to finally compete for a starting role in 2018, those dreams died on Thursday night when Detroit selected Frank Ragnow in the first round. Dahl is now firmly a backup—and that’s fine for a fifth-round draft pick project—but even a spot on the roster is no longer guaranteed considering Detroit added Kenny Wiggins and Wesley Johnson, two experienced backups, in free agency.