The Detroit Lions biggest needed going into the 2019 NFL Draft is predicted to be pass rusher. But general manager Bob Quinn has a plan to follow.
Since adding Bob Quinn as general manager back in 2016, the Detroit Lions seemed to have a plan on how to build a champion. Undoubtedly using what he learned as a member of the New England Patriots for many years, one of the areas of early focus for Quinn has been building the offensive line in Motown.
In fact, three of the top five selections in Quinn’s first draft class in Detroit were offensive lineman. First round selection left tackle Taylor Decker and third round pick center Graham Glasgow are now both starters. While fifth rounder, guard Joe Dahl, is a key reserve.
Last season, once again Quinn and company used their top selection, 20th overall, to select an offensive lineman. Although running back was believed to be Detroit’s biggest need, the Lions opted to take Arkansas’ Frank Ragnow, who would start at left guard for the Motor City his rookie season.
Entering 2019, offensive line could once again be the focus as veteran Pro Bowler T.J. Lang‘s future in Detroit is unclear. The 31-year old Lang played just six games last season due to injury and is due $8.25 million in 2019. If the Lions opt to move on from Lang, they’ll need a new starting right guard.
Both Lang and starting right tackle Ricky Lang were signed as pricey free agents back in 2017. That offseason, Quinn opted not to draft a single offensive lineman instead focusing on defense with six of their nine total picks.
Heading into this offseason, pass rusher would appear to be the biggest need for Detroit. The uncertainly future of soon-to-be 30-year old Ezekiel Ansah being at the heart of the matter. Ansah was signed to the costly franchise tag last season, a hefty price tag of $17.1 million.
But injuries once again limited Ansah’s impact on the field, playing in just seven games in 2018. The former first round pick recorded 11 tackles and 4.0 sacks last season.
Despite Ansah’s limited production, Detroit was still able to post an impressive 43.0 total sacks as a defense last season. That was tied for the 11th most sacks in the NFL in 2018.
Newcomers in defensive end Romeo Okwara (7.5 sacks) and linebacker Devon Kennard (7.0) helped to pick up the slack. And there was a slew of defenders who recorded numerous sacks for Detroit last season, which is indicative of a Matt Patricia-led defense.
So despite the perceived need for a pass rusher in Detroit, Quinn and company may not feel the same way.
In his latest mock, analyst for NFL.com Bucky Brooks predicted Clemson pass rusher Clelin Ferrell will be the Lions’ choice eighth overall in the first round of the 2019 draft. Here’s Brook’s quick analysis of the pick.
“Coach Matt Patricia needs a dynamic edge rusher to wreak havoc off the edge in a division loaded with premier quarterbacks.”
In Brooks’ first round mock, pass rusher is a priority for Detroit. But he also doesn’t have the first offensive lineman coming off the board until ninth overall, that player being Florida’s Jawaan Taylor. In fact, two of the three picks by Brooks following the Lions’ selection of Ferrell are offensive lineman.
Could it be that Bob Quinn and company could opt to use their third first round selection in four year on yet another offensive lineman? No one knows. What we do know is the Detroit Lions current regime has a plan. And they are not afraid to go against the grain to follow it.