Experts grade Detroit Lions’ complete 2018 NFL Draft

The Detroit News
Frank Ragnow

The Detroit Lions ended up with six selections in the 2018 NFL Draft. This is how some of the analysts view their picks.

Mel Kiper, ESPN

Matt Patricia's first draft as coach of the Lions could be defined by whether they finally find a consistent running game. The O-line and running back focus were clear. Detroit moved up eight spots to No. 43 (and surrendered pick 117) to take Kerryon Johnson, who had 20 total touchdowns last season. Johnson was my ninth-ranked back, and I had higher players on my board, plus the injury concerns at Auburn give me pause. There's no doubt that he's talented, but is he going to be a three-down back? Can he be relied upon in pass protection?

Detroit helped the running game with center Frank Ragnow in Round 1 (20), and got a potential steal at 153 in offensive tackle Tyrell Crosby, who played left tackle at Oregon and had a foot injury in 2016. And fullback Nick Bawden late in the seventh round is going to help there, too. The best true blocking fullback in this draft should make that team. Safety Tracy Walker (82) went higher than I thought he'd go, but the four-year starter impressed teams at the combine. Da'Shawn Hand (114) is a Patriots-type pick – he has all the traits in the world to be a great player, and he could play defensive tackle or defensive end.

Grade: B-

Andy Benoit, Sports Illustrated

Detroit’s ground game has ranked 26th or worst in yards per attempt each of the last four years—including ranking dead last in 2017—and GM Bob Quinn was determined to change that. Frank Ragnow, who boasts strength and aggression admired by many scouts, will start on Day 1, filling the hole created by Travis Swanson’s departure. Picking Ragnow and Kerryon Johnson reaffirms what we could surmise by the free-agent signing of LeGarrette Blount: The Lions want a bruising ground game. On the downside, the Lions didn’t find a pass-catching tight end to replace Eric Ebron — they simply didn’t have enough picks to address that need. The job now falls to ex-Seahawk Luke Willson, who is at least proficient going down the seams.

The rest of this draft served to start remaking Detroit’s defense in new head coach Matt Patricia’s image. Tracy Walker brings depth at safety, which is something Matt Patricia used smartly in New England. Da’Shawn Hand, whom the Lions traded up to get in Round 4, is a five-technique style defensive end, meaning he wins with strength and mechanics. Patricia’s Patriots always employed this type of D-lineman as opposed to the glitzier (and more expensive) edge-benders.

Grade: B

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News

Bob Quinn vowed to fixed the running game, and Frank Ragnow's interior blocking will help. Trading up for Kerryon Johnson, however, was questionable for the backfield, and Walker was a reach for the secondary. The Lions ignoring linebacker and tight end was not good.

Grade: C-

Chad Reuter,

Detroit got stronger in the middle by picking Frank Ragnow, who could play guard for now, or move to center if needed. Either way, he'll move the line of scrimmage. Matthew Stafford feels better already. The Lions were so interested in Kerryon Johnson that they gave up a fourth-round pick to move up eight spots. That's marginal value, though I expect Johnson will be a good back. Da’Shawn Hand could end up a pretty good interior player, but he'll need to contribute right away to be worth giving up a 2019 third-rounder. Great value in Tyrell Crosby, who should be a starter at guard or tackle very soon because of his strength. He has quick enough feet to handle pass protection duties.

Grade: B

Nate Davis, USA Today

Second-rounder Kerryon Johnson will get the headlines, assuming he can break with recent tradition and hold up better than other highly-drafted Lions tailbacks. Otherwise, new coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn were busy fortifying their lines, starting with first-round C Frank Ragnow.

Grade: C+


Niyo: Lions brass draft for force and brawn

Alabama’s Da'Shawn Hand says he’ll bring ‘win’ attitude to Lions

New Lions OT Tyrell Crosby: No concussion worries

Lions add 'physical presence': SDSU FB Nick Bawden