ESPN’s Kiper bumps up Lions’ ’16 draft grade to B-plus

The Detroit News

The Detroit Lions 2016 draft was a little better than Mel Kiper Jr. thought.

The ESPN NFL draft expert re-graded each team’s selections from last season Thursday (pay site), bumping up the Lions’ grade to a B-plus after orginally awarding them a B-minus.

The Lions’ draft haul last season was led by offensive tackle Taylor Decker, selected 16th overall out of Ohio State. Decker started all 16 games as rookie.

“The Lions have been looking for consistent play at left tackle since Matthew Stafford arrived — that’s a while,” Kiper wrote. “Taylor Decker might have finally given them a long-term solution. You could make a case that if he gets any better, and new addition Ricky Wagner holds recent form, the Lions have one of the better tackle tandems in the NFL.”

The Lions took defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson in the second round. The Alabama product made five starts as a rookie, and batted down a team-high seven passes, giving the Lions “pretty good value in Round 2,” Kiper wrote.

“There was more good,” Kiper continued. “Graham Glasgow started 11 games and could be the starting guard going into 2017. You could see Miles Killebrew developing into something, but it’s early. Dwayne Washington was needed as attrition hit the backfield, and it was the same story with Antwione Williams at linebacker.

“There isn’t a lot of sizzle here, but if Decker gets better this draft improves even from B+, because that’s a huge hole filled.”

Other notables included the Tennessee Titans maintaining an A-minus grade, thanks in part of first-round pick Jack Conklin out of Michigan State.

“Jack Conklin was a stud, an All-Pro as a rookie,” Kiper wrote. “That’s amazing.”