As Lions General Manager Bob Quinn heads into his third year, so does his first class of rookies drafted in the 2016 NFL Draft. It was a draft class heavy on linemen, sparse on skill positions, but solid in terms of the number of contributors he put on the field in Detroit.
By no means has that draft class been without some growing pains—for some more serious than others. In a time where draft classes are graded by the time the pick leaves the stage, it’s obviously a much different timeline for the true talent evaluators. For Quinn, it takes more than a full season of play to make any judgements about a player.
“I would say nowadays in the NFL, with the practice limitations that we have due to the current CBA, our practices are so much (more) limited,” said Quinn during a pre-draft presser in 2018. “So, I think to give a guy a year in an NFL system, with a full process of OTA’s, rookie mini-camp, training camp season, and then into the following September is really giving the guy a chance.”
With Quinn’s 2016 draft class having two years of NFL experience under their belts, it leads us to our Question of the Day:
Which 2016 Lions draftee has the most to prove in 2018?
One of Quinn’s first orders of business was bolstering the Lions offensive line, and thus far it has paid dividends.
Taylor Decker, Quinn’s first draft pick, spent the majority of his 2017 offseason—and the first half of the Lions’ schedule of games—rehabbing a torn labrum, but when he was healthy for all 16 contests his rookie season, he fit the bill of the team’s franchise left tackle. Graham Glasgow was drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft and has proved to be valuable, especially from a versatility standpoint, playing both guard and center.
A’Shawn Robinson has carved out a role as a run-stuffing, hard-nosed tackle alongside the likes of Haloti Ngata, but 2018 will see him take on a more prominent role in Matt Patricia’s defense that utilizes multiple fronts. From what we’ve seen so far from Robinson, he should be up for the task.
Miles Killebrew is a player with a lot to play for in 2018, and seems like one of the players who struggled the most with consistent play a season ago. As a rookie, Killebrew eventually earned playing time on third down, covering tight ends and making play after play. Progress in the NFL is rarely ever a one-way, upward trend, and that was true for Killebrew in 2017. The emergence of Quandre Diggs as a safety after the injury to Tavon Wilson certainly factored into the amount of playing time Killebrew had last year, and with the addition of defensive back Tracy Walker in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Killebrew’s time is anything but guaranteed.