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Breaking down the Detroit Lions’ draft-day trades under Bob Quinn

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Analyzing all of the Lions GM’s moves over the past four drafts.

NFL Combine - Day 2

The Detroit Lions are a source of many trade rumors heading into next week’s draft. With the third-overall pick and no drastic need for a quarterback, Detroit has the potential to land a bounty of picks from an eager team.

But can Lions general manager Bob Quinn pull it off? In his four previous drafts, he hasn’t been all that active in trades. In total, he’s just made five draft-day trades in four seasons, and none have been as impactful as moving the third-overall pick in the draft.

So what can we glean from Quinn’s draft day history? Let’s take a look at all five trades from the past four years and see if any patterns emerge:

2016

Trade ups: None.
Trade downs: None.

In his first draft ever, Quinn decided to stay put with all of his original draft picks. The team had two additional sixth-round picks: one from a player trade (Mohammed Seisay) and one as a compensatory pick. Detroit also had one additional fifth-round pick (from a 2015 first round trade down with Denver). They had traded away their third-round pick (for a 2015 fourth-round pick), but evened it out with a compensatory third rounder.

Quinn remained quiet on draft day and came out with a relatively solid draft class that included Taylor Decker, Graham Glasgow, A’Shawn Robinson and Joe Dahl amongst others.

2017

Trade ups: None
Trade downs: Moved down 11 spots in the third round (85 to 96) and picked up additional fourth-round pick (124)

Here’s a breakdown of the Lions’ one trade in the 2017 draft:

Lions get: 96th overall (Kenny Golladay) and 124th overall (Jalen Reeves-Maybin)
Patriots get: 85th overall (Antonio Garcia)

Quinn knocked this trade out of the park, landing one of the best offensive talents in this draft class, while adding Reeves-Maybin, a special teams linebacker who was just re-signed this year.

The Patriots, on the other hand, drafted Antonio Garcia, who has yet to play a single game in the NFL and is not currently on a roster.

2018

Trade ups: 1) Lions trade up eight spots in second round (51 to 43) and send Patriots fourth-round pick, 2) Lions send 2019 third-round pick for Patriots’ 2018 fourth-round pick;
Trade downs: None

Here’s how the first trade up broke down:

Lions get: 43rd overall (Kerryon Johnson)
Patriots get: 51st overall, 117th overall

The Patriots then turned the 51st overall pick into the 105th overall pick and Chicago’s 2019 second-round pick. Then they turned 105 into 114 and 178. THEN they traded 114 back to the Lions (Da’Shawn Hand) for Detroit’s 2019 third-round pick. They used that future 2019 third-round pick to trade further back in the third round while attaining a 2020 fourth-round pick and improving a 2019 sixth-round pick to a fifth-round pick. So in total, the Patriots turned the Lions’ second- and fourth-round picks into:

  • 2018 sixth-round pick: Christian Sam
  • 2019 second-round pick: Joejuan Williams* (after trade up)
  • 2019 third-round pick: RB Damien Harris
  • 2019 fifth-round pick: DT Byron Cowart* (after minor trade up)
  • 2020 fourth-round pick

Wow.

The Patriots essentially got five players for the Lions’ one, including two Day 2 picks, a fourth, a fifth and a sixth.

Kerryon Johnson’s career is still young, but this is looking like a loss for Quinn.

2019

Trade ups: Lions traded up seven spots in third round (88 to 81) and sent Vikings their sixth-rounder
Trade downs: Lions traded down with Falcons sixth spots in fourth round (111 to 117) for sixth-rounder

Let’s break it down

Trade 1:

Lions get: 81st overall (Will Harris)
Vikings get (through a ton more trades):

  • Third-round pick (102): RB Alexander Mattison
  • Fifth-round pick (162): LB Cameron Smith
  • Sixth-round pick (191): S Marcus Epps
  • Sixth-round pick (193): OT Oli Udoh
  • Seventh-round pick (239): WR Dillon Mitchell

Once again, the Lions moved up to grab one player, and the team they traded with turned one pick into five. It’s far too early to judge the individual picks, but it’s another instance of a team using the Lions to accumulate a ton of draft picks.

Trade 2:

Lions get: 117 overall (EDGE Austin Bryant), 186 overall (RB Ty Johnson)
Falcons get: 111 overall (CB Kendall Sheffield)

Again, too early to judge this one, but Sheffield started 11 games for the Falcons, while the Lions dealt with injuries to Austin Bryant and got limited contributions from Johnson.

Overall:

Here are some interesting takeaways from Quinn’s draft day history.

  • The Lions have traded up three times, but down just twice

Generally speaking, his trade up haul (Kerryon Johnson, Da’Shawn Hand, Will Harris) has been worse than his trade down haul (Kenny Golladay, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Austin Bryant, Ty Johnson)

  • They haven’t made any trades in the first, fifth, sixth or seventh rounds.
  • Detroit has never made more than two draft-day trades in a season.
  • Quinn has never chained trades, meaning trading further down after trading down once.
  • The Lions have had only three different draft-day trade partners: Patriots, Vikings, and Falcons. Three of their five trades have been with New England.
  • The most the Lions have moved in a single draft is 11 spots (not including 2018 fourth for a 2019 third).
  • The fewest amount of spots they’ve moved in a trade is six spots.