LB Reeves-Maybin’s ‘instincts’ a draw for Lions’ Quinn

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Prior to the final day of the NFL draft, the Detroit Lions re-arranged their board, circling between 10 and 15 names they hoped would make it to pick No. 124, the 18th of the fouth round.

If there had been a run on those targets, general manager Bob Quinn knew he had the ammunition to move up, something he discussed with reporters Friday night. But the Lions were able to retain their resources, stay put and land Tennessee linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, one of players they coveted.

“We talked about (second-round pick) Jalen (Tabor) the other night in terms of instincts,” Quinn said. “This guy’s instincts at the linebacker position are very good. That’s one thing that led to him.

“Really felt fortunate that he was there,” Quinn said. “We thought that he definitely was going to be probably in the third round. We were kind of holding out hope there through the middle of the fourth that he was still going to be there. The value was just too good to pass up.”

The Lions showed interest in Reeves-Maybin leading up to the draft, with Quinn personally meeting with the prospect before his pro day, but he didn’t take an official pre-draft visit to Detroit.

A highly productive tackler at Tennessee, Reeves-Maybin racked up more than 100 stops in both 2014 and 2015, including 25 behind the line, before a shoulder injury limited him to four games as a senior.

He offered a positive prognosis on the injury following his selection.

“It’s doing really good,” Reeves-Maybin said. “It kind of bothered me this past year, but it’s behind me now and I’m just looking forward to the season and getting to play football.

While there are some who view Reeves-Maybin as a possible middle linebacker, the Lions plan to work him on the outside. And at 230 pounds, Quinn notes he’s probably better suited for the weak side.

While the depth chart will be sort itself out during the offseason, Reeves-Maybin likely is going to back up either first-rounder Jarrad Davis or free-agent addition Paul Worrilow in 2017, with an eye on competing for a starting job the following year.

In the meantime, Reeves-Maybin is expected to be a significant contributor on special teams, an area of the game he developed a passion for while at Tennessee.

“My freshman year, I struggled a little bit kind of breaking in on defense,” he said. “I started making plays on special teams and I feel like that was something that our whole team identified with over my four years. … It just feels like something that was a part of me. On certain units, I feel like there was no one that could play the position better than me.”