Lions don't draft a guard, are happy with what they have
Allen Park — The Detroit Lions checked off a number needs on their shopping list in the 2019 NFL Draft, with one glaring omission, at least from the outside looking in. Despite making nine selections over three days, the team didn't add a single offensive lineman, six weeks after cutting starting guard T.J. Lang.
The team has a number of candidates for the opening in the starting lineup, but none who appear to be long-term solutions.
► There's Kenny Wiggins, a veteran who filled in after Lang suffered a season-ending injury last season.
► Also, Joe Dahl, a versatile backup the past four seasons.
► And lastly, Oday Aboushi, a journeyman whom coach Matt Patricia has worked with before and recently praised the lineman's toughness.
Any of those three could emerge from that group, but none are under contract beyond this season. So it's at least a little surprising the Lions didn't add a guard in the draft. But after the third and final day, when the Lions took six non-guards, Quinn said he's content with the group the team current has on the roster.
"We’re happy with what we have," Quinn said. "Once you get to this third day of the draft, you’re never going to reach for guys. You really have to follow the board. Just because you have a little bit of an opening on the depth chart, you don’t want to reach for a player, grade-wise. We stayed very, very true to the board today. That’s just kind of how it fell to us. People were asking, why the other tight end in the seventh round, well he was the highest-graded guy, by far. We felt good about that one."
On the surface, Quinn's words are similar to what he said following the 2017 draft when asked about the team's running back situation. The expectation was the Lions would take one that year, but didn't.
“I feel pretty good about the position," Quinn said at the time. "There were a couple running backs that we looked at in the middle part of the draft, but just no one felt that was going to come in and really unseat any of the guys that we have on our roster, so I feel good about that spot."
The Lions would go on to finish as the worst rushing team in the NFL the next season, both in yards per game and yards per carry, leading to Quinn spending heavily on the position last offseason, both in the backfield and with the blocking. The team also fired offensive line coach Ron Prince days after the season.
That's not to say ignoring the offensive line this offseason will play out the same way this year, despite some similarities.
But the lack of attention is at least a little unusual given how much Quinn has spent on the line since arriving in Detroit a little more than three years ago. He's spent two first-round selections, two third-round picks and a fifth-round choice on linemen.
The Lions also finally gained positive traction with their ground game in 2018, with rookie running back Kerryon Johnson finishing second in the NFL with a 5.4-yard average before a season-ending injury.
Detroit Lions draft picks
First round (No. 8 overall): Iowa TE T.J. Hockenson
Second round (No. 43): Hawaii LB Jahlani Tavai
Third round (No. 81): Boston College S Will Harris
Fourth round (No. 117): Clemson DE Austin Bryant
Fifth round (No. 146): Penn State CB Amani Oruwariye
Sixth round (No. 184): Old Dominion WR Travis Fulgham
Sixth round (No. 186): Maryland RB Ty Johnson
Seventh round (No. 224): Georgia TE Isaac Nauta