After taking four straight defensive players from Round 2 to Round 5, the Detroit Lions finally turned their attention to the offensive side of the ball again in the sixth round and picked up two skill position players. Old Dominion receiver Travis Fulgham and Maryland running back Ty Johnson present two fancy weapons for the Lions offense.
But all the way down in the sixth round, is there a legitimate shot either of these players could contend for an actual role with the team in 2019 and beyond? Let’s break down both picks.
WR Travis Fulgham, Old Dominion
Fulgham’s path to the NFL has been an unconventional one, to say the least. He was originally a walk-on at Old Dominion before earning himself a scholarship after a strong camp. He started playing football just a few years ago as a junior in high school. Now he’s officially in the NFL.
At Old Dominion, Fulgham had an unassuming career through his junior season, though his eight touchdowns in 2016 accounted for over a quarter of the team’s passing output. Last year, Fulgham’s production exploded, pulling in 1,083 yards and upping his touchdown total to nine.
His breakout season earned him second-team All-Conference USA honors, and Pro Football Focus named him to their first team Conference USA:
As a prospect, Fulgham is all about length and ball skills. His route-running is still a bit sloppy, which is understandable considering how new he is to the sport. But his athletic profile certainly shows some promise.
With the Lions, it’s hard to imagine Fulgham making any real impact in his rookie season, though he could certainly make the 53-man roster given Detroit’s thin depth at the position. He’s a high-upside pick that could develop into an outside starting receiver should the stars align and the Lions feel the need to move on from the likes of Marvin Jones Jr. when his contract is up after the 2020 season.
RB Ty Johnson, Maryland
If you’ve been missing Jahvid Best, you may have found him reincarnated in the Lions’ newest running back. Johnson is an absolute sprinter, and that much is evident from his Maryland tape, where he was one of the most efficient runners in Terrapin history.
2015: 35 rushes, 250 yards (7.1 YPC), 3 TDs
2016: 110 rushes, 1004 yards (9.1 YPC), 6 TDs
2017: 137 rushes, 875 yards (6.4 YPC), 5 TDs
2018: 66 rushes, 506 yards (7.7 YPC), 6 TDs
Curiously, Maryland rarely used Johnson as a receiver (29 career catches) even though Johnson’s athletic profile suggests he can be a threat catching the ball.
But with the Lions already having a crowded backfield, Johnson will likely have to find another way onto the roster. Luckily for the rookie, he’s one of the best kick returners this year’s draft class has to offer. Johnson finished his college career with an average of 24.9 yards per kick return, including two house calls:
Like Fulgham, Johnson has the ceiling to potentially be a contributor on offense down the line, but for now, his most likely path to the roster is as a returner and occasional trick-play option.