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Lions DL Da’Shawn Hand lands on PFWA all-rookie team

Bob Quinn is 3-for-3 in landing draft picks on the PFWA all-rookie team.

Da’Shawn Hand has made the Pro Football Writers of America’s list as a defensive lineman. He is the one member of Detroit’s draft class who made the cut.

The Lions found Hand in the fourth round this spring after trading a future third-round pick to the Patriots in order to get him. The defensive tackle-end combo came from Alabama, where the Lions have created a pipeline with A’Shawn Robinson as well as their position coach, Bo Davis, who worked with them both.

Hand fit like a glove playing alongside Robinson, for Davis and in two spots in Matt Patricia’s hybrid defense. He started eight of 13 games and helped soften the blow of the injuries that kept Ezekiel Ansah off the field.

After a somewhat underwhelming college career, Hand flashed some of the potential that once made him the No. 1 high school recruit in the country. He finished with three sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery despite Detroit’s emphasis on playing multiple gaps up front, not to mention having to learn two positions.

Detroit shut him down late in the season to avoid future injury with the playoffs out of reach, but he was a consistent contributor until then. He was one of the bright spots of a 6-10 campaign.

Hand joins Taylor Decker in 2016 and Jarrad Davis and Jamal Agnew last year in representing the Lions on the list. Detroit has started to make a tradition out of receiving strong contributions from rookies. Hand continued that, as did Kerryon Johnson, though he fell well short of what Saquon Barkley and Philip Lindsay were able to accomplish to make the cut.

Johnson took our award for best rookie for breaking the team’s 100-yard rushing drought with two such performances. His competition from around the league was much tougher to make this list.

Detroit also received 16 starts at left guard out of first-round pick Frank Ragnow and some occasional coverage plays from developing third-round safety Tracy Walker. Fifth-round tackle Tyrell Crosby served as an extra lineman for most of the season before starting the final two games in place of an injured Rick Wagner.

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