Allen Park — The veterans don’t report until the end of the week, but the Detroit Lions rookies arrived for the start of training camp on Monday. It’s an official signal that football is back, and if the Lions can get the kind of production they got from last year’s rookie class, the team could find itself back in the postseason for a second consecutive season.
Last year’s draft class, the first under general manager Bob Quinn, proved to be a winner.
First-round pick Taylor Decker started every game and played every snap at left tackle, appearing to be the long-term solution on the blindside. Second-round defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson’s future looked equally bright, showing steady progress as his debut season progressed, resulting in four straight starts to end the season.
The team also got contributions from several other rookies, including Graham Glasgow, who took over the starting left guard job before midseason. Safety Miles Killebrew, linebacker Antwione Williams, defensive end Anthony Zettel and running back Dwayne Washington all played meaningful snaps and are set up for bigger roles in their second years.
This year, the Lions are looking for similar returns from Quinn’s second draft. Jarrad Davis, the first-round choice out of Florida, is expected to help improve the team’s linebacking situation and immediately step in as a starter in the middle of the defense.
Second-round cornerback Teez Tabor doesn’t shoulder the same immediate expectations in a crowded secondary, but with Nevin Lawson in the final year of his contract, the aggressive, playmaking cornerback out of Florida is the future alongside Darius Slay.
In the third round, Detroit got a much-needed size injection for its receiving corps with the addition of former Northern Illinois standout Kenny Golladay. The 6-foot-4 wideout looked ahead of the curve during the early portions of the offseason program and should help replace what Anquan Boldin brought to the table in 2016.
Tight end Michael Roberts, linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, and nickelback and return man Jamal Agnew also all have the opportunity to contribute as rookies, while quarterback Brad Kaaya, defensive tackle Jeremiah Ledbetter and Pat O’Connor will look to make a strong impression and earn a roster spot.
The same can be said for the team’s dozen undrafted signings, who will look to buck the odds and earn a spot on the 53-man roster, much like cornerback Adairius Barnes did a season ago.
The remainder of the team will report Friday with the first practice taking place Saturday afternoon. The team will travel to Indianapolis early next month for a pair of joint practices with the Colts before the teams’ preseason opener on Sunday, Aug. 13.