2015 Draft in Review: Detroit Lions
The NFL draft is over and it suddenly seems like a long time to wait for the next meaningful event on the NFL calendar. But frankly we’re still excited trying to break down what it all means for each team and so we’re going to share some of that excitement.
The Detroit Lions made a significant improvement in 2014 in Jim Caldwell’s first season as head coach. What did they do in the draft to help them take the next step forward?
Round 1: Laken Tomlinson, G, Duke
Tomlinson was our top true guard heading into the draft. He excels as a run blocker and consistently wins in one-on-one situations at the line of scrimmage. He had the second-highest run block grade against Power 5 opponents, and as a pass blocker, he was the top guard in the draft class with a 99.4 Pass Blocking Efficiency, allowing no sacks, no hits, and just four hurries. To top it off, the Lions picked up two fifth-round picks and Manny Ramirez in a trade to move back five spots, and still were able to draft the player they were targeting.
Depth Chart Fit: Tomlinson should slide in as the starter at left guard Day 1, while Ramirez and Travis Swanson compete for the starting center job.
Round 2: Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Abdullah was one of my favorite players to watch in the draft. He plays much bigger than his size would suggest, and can make cuts that few, if any, other players in this draft can make. Abdullah had the second-highest rush grade and highest receiving grade in the RB draft class. He will need to improve in pass protection to be an every down player, but that’s really the only weakness in his game.
Depth Chart Fit: Will split time with Joique Bell, but should see significant playing time, especially on early downs.
Round 3: Alex Carter, CB, Stanford
Carter is not a player we saw going anywhere near this high, particularly with so many better corners still on the board. He did earn a positive overall grade, but his coverage grade ranked 93rd out of 134 cornerbacks in the draft class.
Depth Chart Fit: Expected to be a backup and special teams player early on.
Round 4: Gabe Wright, DI, Auburn
Wright showed some explosiveness last season, but the regular production just did not match. He had just 17 pressures on 245 pass rush snaps for a 5.4 Pass Rushing Productivity, that ranked 32nd out of 92 draft eligible DTs. He was even less productive in run defense, with an 81st ranked 3.4 Run Stop Percentage. Wright was a reach in the fourth round with players like Grady Jarrett still on the board.
Depth Chart Fit: It depends on how the Lions’ handle the defensive front scheme with Suh and Fairley gone, but Wright will likely be a rotational pass rushing specialist this year.
Round 5: Michael Burton, FB, Rutgers
Fullbacks might be a dying breed. but Burton was the best in FBS last season. He was the top graded blocker and wasn’t too shabby as a receiver either. He picked up 150 yards on 15 receptions and forced six missed tackles.
Depth Chart Fit: Won’t see a ton of snaps on offense due to the position, but will have a role and can contribute on special teams as well.
Round 6: Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas
Our own Sam Monson said that the Lions got a better player with their sixth-round pick in Diggs, than they did with Carter in the third round. Diggs is on the smaller side, but that didn’t prevent him from producing well enough to have the 11th-best overall grade among the CB class. He graded above average in coverage in six games, plus another in the Senior Bowl, and none were below average.
Depth Chart Fit: Like Carter, expected to be a backup but could push for the fourth cornerback spot.
Round 7: Corey Robinson, T, South Carolina
Exclude a horrendous performance against Clemson and Vic Beasley, and Robinson would have been pushing for an overall grade that would have ranked among the Top 10 tackles in the draft class. At 6-foot-8 and 344 pounds, Robinson is better in the run game than in pass protection, but still only allowed 16 pressures all season.
Depth Chart Fit: Robinson provides some depth at tackle, but competition could leave him on the fringe of the 53-man roster and the practice squad.
Anthony Boone, QB, Duke: Earned the lowest overall grade among the QB draft class, and had an Accuracy Percentage of 43.2% when pressured.
Zach Zenner, RB, South Dakota State: Played in just one game against FBS opposition. Had a 75 yard touchdown run versus Missouri, but gained just 28 yards on his other 16 carries.
Rasheed Williams, RB, Alfred State: Out of Alfred State, did not play against FBS opposition.
Marcus Beaurem, WR, Tiffin: Out of Tiffin, did not play against FBS opposition.
Vernon Johnson, WR, Texas A&M-Commerce: Out of Texas A&M Commerce, did not play against FBS opposition.
Casey Pierce, TE, Kent State: Was the lone Kent State player with a positive receiving grade. Lined up in the slot or out wide on 26% of his snaps.
Torrian Wilson, T, UCF: A better run blocker than pass protector, Wilson had the fifth-highest run block grade among draft eligible left tackles. His 96.0 Pass Blocking Efficiency ranked 62nd out of 92 draft eligible tackles.
Al Bond, G, Memphis: Played exclusively at right tackle. Allowed 21 pressures on 469 pass blocking snaps.
Kevin Snyder, LB, Rutgers: His overall grade ranked 140th out of 148 off-ball linebackers, particularly struggling against the run.
Delonte Hollowell, CB, Michigan: Earned a neutral grade on 157 snaps. Played all bar 12 snaps in the slot.
Isaiah Johnson, S, Georgia Tech: Played 69% of snaps at FS, 17% at SS, and 14% as a slot CB.
Nathan Lindsey, S, Fort Hays State: Out of Fort Hays State, did not play against FBS opposition.
Brian Suite, S, Utah State: Played 72% of snaps at FS, 17% at SS, and 11% as a slot CB. Earned a negative grade in run defense.
Kyle Brindza, K/P, Notre Dame: Went 15-24 on FGs with all misses coming under 50 yards, including four under 40 yards.
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