Detroit News reporters discuss the Lions' first-round options and what the team needs to accomplish over the entire NFL Draft. Justin Rogers, The Detroit News
Holding the No. 8 pick in the NFL Draft leaves a team plenty of options, and that’s the position the Detroit Lions find themselves in as the annual draft begins on Thursday night from Nashville.
The Lions are slotted to pick eighth overall, but with plenty of teams looking to move up, there’s a chance another team moves into that slot if they present a decent offer to the Lions.
However, if general manager Bob Quinn ends up making Detroit’s first-round pick from the No. 8 spot, here’s a look at how that position has played out in the last 10 years.
Roquan Smith, LB, Chicago: The Bears landed a good one when they picked up the 6-foot-1 Smith out of Georgia. He had 122 tackles as a rookie and was an alternate in the Pro Bowl despite missing most of training camp as a holdout and starting slowly when the season began. However, he got better as the season progressed and had 82 tackles over the final nine games, leaving the Bears expecting big things from Smith headed into 2019.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina: It didn’t take long for the Stanford product to prove he was going to be a productive pro, becoming the first rookie running back in NFL history with at least 70 receptions and five receiving touchdowns to earn Rookie of the Year honors. In 2018, he had 107 catches, the most ever for a RB and finished the season as only the third player in NFL history with more than 1,000 rushing yards and 100 receptions in single season. He is the third player in NFL history with at least 1,500 career rushing and 1,500 career receiving yards in his first two seasons.
Jack Conklin, OT, Tennessee: After starting his career at Michigan State as a walk-on, Conklin’s rise has been stunning. He became the first MSU offensive lineman taken in the first round since Tony Mandarich in 1989 and earned All-Pro honors at right tackle as a rookie. He as solid again in 2017 before a knee injury suffered in the playoffs that season bothered him all of 2018. Conklin played just nine games last season and the Titans hope he comes back 100 percent for 2019 as they contemplate picking up the fifth-year option on his contract.
Vic Beasley, LB, Atlanta: The former Clemson star started all 16 games and led the team with four sacks as a rookie in 2015, adding 27 tackles and an interception and two forced fumbles. He followed that with a breakout in 2016 as he was named to the Pro Bowl and earned All-Pro honors after leading the NFL with 15.5 sacks while adding 39 tackles, 15 quarterback hits, 10 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles. His 15.5 sacks were the second-most by a Falcon in a single season since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. There’s been a drop-off the past two seasons as Beasley has had five sacks in both 2017 and 2018.
Justin Gilbert, CB, Cleveland: The highly touted defensive back out of Oklahoma State never lived up to the billing, appearing in 14 games as a rookie before getting in just nine games in 2015. Gilbert was traded to Pittsburgh for a sixth-round pick before the 2016 season, but things didn’t go much better as he played in only 12 games, primarily on special teams for the Steelers. He was released in February of 2017 before being suspended for a year in June 2017 for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He did not play in 2018.
Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis: An impressive special teams player his first two seasons with the Rams, Austin enjoyed breakout seasons as a receiver in both 2015 and 2016. He had 52 catches for 473 yards and five touchdowns in 2015 and had 58 grabs for 509 yards with three touchdowns when the Rams moved to Los Angeles in 2016. However, that production dropped the next season with the arrival of coach Sean McVay as Austin had just 13 receptions for 47 yards. Austin was traded to the Cowboys before the 2018 season and had only eight receptions after missing nine games with an injury.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami: The former Texas A&M quarterback has been a model of consistency during his time with the Dolphins, starting 77 consecutive games to begin his NFL career. He’s thrown for 3,000 yards or more four times and 4,000 yards twice, highlighted by the 27 touchdown passes he had in 2014. However, despite ranking second in Dolphins history in career completion percentage, the team has yet to find success with Tannehill under center. He missed all of 2017 with a knee injury and was out for five games last season and finished throwing for 1,979 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee: Many believed Locker would have been the top pick in 2010, but he opted to return to Washington for his senior season only to struggle and see his stock drop a bit. He ended up going to the Titans after Cam Newton was the top overall pick and appeared in just five games as a rookie. In 2012, he started 11 games and threw for 2,176 yards but with just 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, before putting up similarly unimpressive numbers in 12 starts over the next two seasons before announcing his retirement in 2015.
Rolando McClain, LB, Oakland: The former Alabama standout had a solid start to his career, collecting 85 tackles as a rookie and 99 in 2012 before seeing his production drop off in his third season with the Raiders. Several off-field issues hounded McClain, who then signed with Baltimore in April 2013 only to announce he was retiring a month later. His rights were traded to Dallas, where he played 23 games in two seasons but was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He was suspended again in 2016, this time indefinitely.
Eugene Monroe, OT, Jacksonville: Monroe was drafted out of Virginia and started 90 of his 93 games during his NFL career. He was traded to Baltimore in 2013 but was plagued by injuries and retired after being released by the Ravens in June 2016. He cited concerns over concussions as the reason for his retirement at age 29.