Lions trade down in fourth round, draft Clemson DE Austin Bryant

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — A day after using a sixth-round pick to move up in the third round, the Detroit Lions got a sixth-round pick back early Saturday, trading down six spots in a swap with the Atlanta Falcons. 

Austin Bryant

Moving back from pick No. 111 to 117, the Lions selected Clemson defensive end Austin Bryant.

A less-heralded member of Clemson's outstanding defensive line, the 6-foot-4, 271-pound Bryant recorded 30.5 tackles for a loss and 17 sacks over the past two seasons, earning third-team All-American honors in 2017 and third-team All-ACC honors last year. 

Bryant suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the middle of his senior season, but instead of opting for immediate surgery, he played through the pain in pursuit of a national championship. Clemson would go on to defeat Alabama for the title, the school's second in three years. 

"I thought about (having surgery immediately), but at the end of the day, I knew what I came back to school to do, and that was not only to get my degree, but play and win the national championship, and that’s what I wanted to do," Bryant said. "If I can walk, I was going to be out on that field with my teammates, just because that’s how much I love those guys.

"I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I knew that I could’ve went out there and played, and I didn’t do so. I’m very glad I made the decision to play, even though it may have had its consequences. It’s well worth it, and I ended up in the right place."

He had surgery after the season, which prevented him from participating in testing at the combine and his pro day. That could have contributed to his slide into the draft's third day. He's anticipating wrapping up his rehab in the next few weeks and being medically cleared for Detroit's offseason program. 

"It doesn’t really matter when you get drafted or where – it’s all about what you do when you get there," he said.

Byrant saw three linemates -- Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence -- come off the board in the first 17 picks of the draft this year. 

To move up six spots in the fourth round, the Falcons sent the Lions pick No. 186 in the sixth round. The Lions had given up No. 204 a day earlier, when trading up in the third to take Boston College safety Will Harris. 

At No. 111, the Falcons took Ohio State cornerback Kendall Sheffield. 

Meet Austin Bryant

Position: DE

College: Clemson

Round/overall: 4/117

Notable stats: Finished his four-year career with 153 total tackles, 35 tackles for loss, 32 quarterback pressures and 20 sacks in 51 games (29 starts).

Analysis: Bryant (6-foot-4, 271 pounds) played on a formidable defensive line that featured Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins and Clelin Ferrell — all first-round selections — so it’s easy to overlook him. But Bryant has length (arms measured at 34 5/8 inches), has played all over the line throughout his time at Clemson and has no shortage of experience rushing the edge, which is a situational role he could help fill for a Lions team that finished tied for 11th in the NFL in sacks (43).

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

Seventh round (No. 229): Arizona DT PJ Johnson