The Detroit Lions suffered a blow to their roster on only the second day of 2018 minicamp, when rookie fullback and seventh-round pick Nick Bawden tore his ACL and was ruled out of his rookie season.
He played alongside first round running back Rashaad Penny at San Diego State, and his lead blocking played a huge role in making Penny one of the NCAA’s top rushing threats. With Detroit set to focus on the rushing attack in 2018—with Frank Ragnow and Kerryon Johnson being the team’s first two selections in the draft—Bawden was set to have a huge role last season.
#Lions rookie FB Nick Bawden was PFF's highest-graded blocking fullback in 2016 and the 3rd in 2017-- despite have a bulky cast on his right arm/hand a majority of the season. #OnePride pic.twitter.com/HGPuaHp25L— Logan Lamorandier (@LLamorandier) May 1, 2018
While he did miss out last season, the rookie still does have a significant role to play this year. The team has made it clear that they will be a run-first team with new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell calling plays, and a talented lead blocker like Bawden will have great use for the Lions.
At 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, the fullback can lay a boom on defenders. He can rock second-level defenders and clear the way for Detroit’s deep group of running backs.
Fans still have not gotten a glimpse of what Bawden can do in a Lions uniform, but if he does fully recover from his knee injury last season then his place on the 53-man roster should be a lock. It appears fans will finally get their chance this week, as Bawden has not been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list prior to cmap. Detroit clearly wants to use a fullback this season, and as the only specialist on the roster the job is Bawden’s to lose.
Expect Bawden to be on the field a lot this preseason, though, as he has yet to get a taste of NFL action and has not played in a competitive football game in 19 months.