When Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn took the job four years ago, he wasn’t exactly in his comfort zone. Not only was he a first-time general manager, but he found himself having to scout players for a defense he was unfamiliar with. Working above a coaching staff that wasn’t really his own, Quinn was forced to adjust his scouting style, picking players for then defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.
“When I came here in 2016, our defense was obviously quite different, in terms of the style, so I tried to adjust as best I could,” Quinn admitted on Saturday night after completing his fourth career draft.
But now Quinn is in a much better place. Reunited with head coach Matt Patricia, Quinn is falling back into familiar patterns, allowing himself to rely more on his instincts when it comes to drafting the kind of players he’s comfortable with.
“When Matt came along, we quickly went back to this style,” Quinn said. “To be completely honest, I feel more comfortable grading and evaluating players for this system just because I’ve done it for so much longer.”
Quinn’s comfort clearly resulted in some bold picks this year. Specifically, choosing Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai in the second round screams a Patriots-like pick—there were rumors New England was heavily interested in the projected Day 3 pick. But at the same time, it’s easy to see Detroit now has a type. Looking at this year’s draft class, a pattern easily emerges: High-character captain types with long arms and a ton of position versatility.
The Lions’ roster transition to Patricia-style players isn’t complete, but Quinn thinks it’s close.
“I think we’re getting there,” Quinn said. “I think we did a good job last offseason with free agency with guys like (Devon) Kennard and Christian (Jones).”
Interesting enough, Quinn specifically pointed to Jarrad Davis as a lucky break for the Lions. Though he was drafted for the previous coaching regime, Quinn believes he’s a perfect fit for this new era of Lions football, too.
“It’s really unique that, fortune I’d say, that we were able to get Jarrad Davis a couple drafts ago,” Quinn said. “He can really play in any defense, which is great. We drafted him for the previous defense but he’s a really good fit in what we do now.”
So with a centerpiece like Davis in place, big free agency additions in Trey Flowers and Justin Coleman, and drafting four consecutive defensive players in the 2019 draft, the Lions defense is really coming together, and you have to think Patricia is starting to feel pretty comfortable right now, too.