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4 things to know on new Lions defensive end Da’Shawn Hand

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Getting to know the Lions’ newest defensive line.

Kentucky v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Welcome back for more 4 Questions. Remember last Thursday? Remember what almost every Detroit Lions fan wanted in the first round? It was a pass rusher, if you’re behind on this. That’s all anyone talked about. The Lions need pass rushing help. I felt they needed it in the interior, but just about everyone else wanted it on the edge.

We all sat in the Pride of Detroit War Room just 100 percent sure the Lions were about to steal Harold Landry with the 20th overall pick. We were then reminded, yet again, that it’s impossible to predict these things. We were also reminded of how much worse the offensive line was than the defensive line.

But it’s okay. The Lions eventually went out and grabbed a a pass rusher in the fourth round when they grabbed Alabama’s Da’Shawn Hand, a pick that says a lot about the Lions coaching staff... or it, at least, says a little. The Lions recently hired former Alabama defensive line coach Bo Davis to be their new defensive line coach. The Lions’ line already features former Alabama tackle A’Shawn Robinson. Now Davis gets Hand, as well.

I, for one, was happy with the pick. Not just because the Lions needed it, but also for personal reason. You see, I listen to this podcast called Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard. You’ve may have heard of it. The show’s host, Conrad Thompson, is always saying “Roll Tide.” So naturally, I say it about everything now, too. Even if Alabama did destroy my Spartans in the playoffs a few years back. So allow me to say that this pick by the Lions as pretty damn roll tide.

Okay, now that that ridiculousness is out of the way, let’s learn a little more about Da’Shawn Hand. We got in touch with our friends over at Roll ‘Bama Roll for answers. Here’s what their man Brent Taylor had to say.

POD: What are your overall thoughts on Hand’s time at Alabama?

RBR: “Hand came in as the #1 overall recruit by some websites. He was expected to be the next great lineman and a force to be reckoned with for years to come. It didn’t quite pan out that way as he sat behind A’Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Jonathan Allen—all 1st or 2nd round draft picks— for his first 3 years. He got some rotational time and made some plays, like in the 2015 championship game vs Clemson, but really never got the chance to be a full time guy until his senior year.

He played well, but was never an elite playmaker. He took a cheap shot to the back of the knee from an Ole Miss blocker that had him hobbling for about 5 games right in the middle of the season, stunting his opportunity to finally prove himself.

When all was said and done, he played well and never really had any glaring mistakes... but never really stood out, either.”

POD: What are his strengths?

RBR: “He’s extremely athletic. He’s one of the strongest players on the team and ran like a 4.7 forty or so at 285 pound. Not only that, but he’s a smart guy who does a great job at staying in position and understanding his role in any given play, rather than going out of his place to try to chase down a ball carrier while leaving his spot open. You also won’t often see him blown backwards off the line in the run game. And when he breaks free of a block, he’s a lot faster than most QBs expect.”

POD: What are his weaknesses?

RBR: “His biggest weakness is a lack of explosiveness at the snap. He doesn’t time snaps very well, and is often slow to engage. He doesn’t shed blockers very often, either. So despite his closing speed in the backfield, he doesn’t offer a whole lot as a pass rusher unless someone else flushes the QB first.”

POD: Can Hand be a starter in the NFL? Or is he likely to play a role?

RBR: “He probably won’t be a starter immediately. But if the Lions d-line coach (who, by the way, coached Hand at Alabama in the past) can help him to get his playmaking ability to catch up to his athleticism and brains, he could become a great player.”

Some good stuff by Brent. Much like Tracy Walker in the third round, Hand looks like another project pick for the Lions. The good news is that, much like Walker, the athleticism and potential is there. We’ll see if they both can make it happen in the NFL.

Thanks again to Brent and everyone over at Roll ‘Bama Roll. If you’re looking for Alabama stuff, go on over and read all of their stuff over there. It’s quite roll tide.