Lions’ Quinn picks Jaguars exec for scouting job

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
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Bob Quinn said he had some candidates in mind that he’d like to add to the Lions scouting staff, and less than a week after becoming general manager, he’s already hired one to be his top lieutenant.

Kyle O’Brien, who spent more than a decade working with Quinn with the New England Patriots, will be the Lions director of player personnel, team president Rod Wood confirmed to The Detroit News Friday morning.

ESPN first reported the hiring of O’Brien, who spent the last three years as the director of college scouting for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Lions also fired longtime scout Scott McEwen Friday, who most recently was a senior personnel executive, as Quinn started to make changed in the personnel department.

The hiring of O’Brien indicates the Lions are starting to shape their front office similarly to the one in New England. Coach Bill Belichick acts as the general manager while Nick Caserio is the director of player personnel. Quinn won’t coach, obviously, but he and O’Brien will have a similar relationship to Belichick and Caserio with regards to personnel.

In a telephone interview Friday morning, Caserio described O’Brien as “very thorough” in addition to other praise.

“Very bright, very diligent, very studious and he works very, very hard,” Caserio said of O’Brien, who started with the Patriots in 2000 while he was still a student at Harvard.

Quinn also announced his decision to retain coach Jim Caldwell Friday morning and said in a statement he could now turn his attention to the offseason.

Hiring O’Brien is a critical step for the new GM as Quinn now has a right-hand man with which he’s worked before.

“On behalf of the Jaguars, we are appreciative of all the great work that Kyle has done for the organization over the past three years and are excited for him and his family as they embark on the next step of his career,” Jacksonville GM Dave Caldwell said in a statement. “He is a tireless worker and a great person, and will certainly excel in this new role.”

Quinn and O’Brien spent more 10 years working together in the personnel department for the New England Patriots with both starting as interns in 2000 before growing into various scouting roles. The Patriots hired O’Brien full time in 2002, and he spent time in college and pro scouting, working as an area scout in 2003 and from 2006-09 as well as a pro personnel scout from 2004-05.

After two years as New England’s national scout, O’Brien joined the Kansas City Chiefs as a regional scout in 2012, reconnecting with former Patriots executive Scott Pioli who was GM of the Chiefs from 2009-12.

O’Brien joined the Jaguars in 2013 and has been the director of college scouting the past three seasons.

“He definitely grew and matured through the years,” Caserio said. “He’s kind of carved out a niche for himself.”

During Quinn’s time with the Patriots, 2000-15, they won four Super Bowls, and O’Brien was on staff for three of those.

“I think that’s one thing with both of those guys, they’re great people,” Caserio said. “And if you have great people and get the right people, you’re at least going to have a chance to put together a good infrastructure and have an opportunity to put together a successful team.”

Niyo: Lions' roster remains Quinn's biggest challenge

During his introductory news conference, Quinn said he had not yet decided on any changes to the Lions personnel staff. Many of the scouts and executives have contracts that run through the spring, which could help them stay with the Lions at least through the draft.

“I have some people in mind,” Quinn said when asked if he’d bring in new scouts. “In this league, it’s not exactly easy to get people from other teams to come with you, but I’m working towards that.”

The Lions did not have a director of player personnel in title under previous GM Martin Mayhew. Sheldon White is the vice president of pro personnel, Cedric Saunders is the senior VP of football operations and Lance Newmark is the director of college scouting.

There could be other changes coming to the Lions personnel department.

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

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