Round one of the 2016 NFL Draft was as exciting as any in recent memory: Goff v. Wentz; the pot mask plunge of Laremy Tunsil; the run on Ohio State Buckeyes; the Tennessee Titans love of Jack Conklin; the late trade-up by the Super Bowl champ Denver Broncos to grab their new franchise QB; it was a night of action on all fronts.
In the case of the Detroit Lions, their selection of Ohio State offensive tackle, Taylor Decker, at the #16th pick brought mixed reviews:
The Detroit Lions’ brass was certainly excited:
Decker was a 1st Team All-Big Ten selection and the 2015 Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year. He started 42 games for the Buckeyes the last three seasons, was a team captian and a major part of the Bucks’ National Championship team one year ago.
What the pick tells me more than anything is that Lions’ GM, Bob Quinn, has absolutely no confidence in the current crop of OT talent on the Detroit Lions roster.
Riley Reiff is still a right tackle playing left tackle. He is adequate. Meanwhile, Michael Ola, Corey Robinson and Cornelius Lucas inspire no one.
At offensive tackle, the Detroit Lions have had a revolving door of busts (Aaron Gibson, Stockar McDougal, Juan Roque), bums (LaAdrian Waddle), walking penalities (Gosder Cherilus) and human pylons (Jeff Backus) for much of the last 20 years.
The crop of offensive tackles in this year’s draft class is thin. The Lions had little wiggle room to address the position when (as expected) the top three tackles: Tunsil (#13 to Miami), Conklin (#8 to Tennessee) and Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley (#6 to Baltimore) all fell off the board before Detroit’s turn at the podium.
The Detroit Lions have not drafted a Pro Bowl offensive tackle since Lomas Brown (in action above) in 1985. No one is saying that Taylor Decker will break that 31-year (and counting) drought. But, Bob Quinn knows that Detroit’s 32nd ranked run game and 44 sacks allowed last season must improve if the Lions are to turn the corner toward a return to the playoffs.
When the second round begins tonight, Detroit – who has the 15th pick (46th overall) of Rd. 2 – have three of my top six defensive linemen still on the board. I expect that weakness to be addressed tonight.
They also have six tradeable day three picks: 4th round (#111 overall); 5th rd. (#151 & #169); 6th rd. (#191 & #202); 7th rd. (#236) and two untradeable compensatory picks: 3rd rd. (#95 overall) and 6th rd. (#210 overall) to work with along the way.
The Detroit Lions have much more work to do. Like it or not, the franchise is in rebuild mode and Taylor Decker is the first round cornerstone in Bob Quinn’s first draft. The construction resumes tonight at 7:00 p.m.