Jamie Edmonds: Lions draft is over -- are they better?

Day 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft on April 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Day 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft on April 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

DETROIT – Bob Quinn wrapped up his 4th draft as general manager of the Detroit Lions this weekend. Per usual, Lions fans were buzzing on social media, second-guessing everything. ‘Was he a reach? Who even is that player? Why-oh-why did they pick another tight end???’ I think the better question is, are they better than they were last year?

At number eight, the Lions picked a tight end, again. In that moment, you could almost hear the groan coming from the bars in metro Detroit. But, in this case, I think it’s unfair to compare TJ Hockenson to Eric Ebron. Bob Quin did not make the Ebron pick and TJ is a different guy. I think the only fair questions are to look at Hockenson’s time at Iowa, where he caught 74 percent of his targets last season, and decide if he was worth it to use your 8th overall pick. For me, I think there were better players on the board, but Quinn made it clear he was drafting for his system and his alone. 

Their next pick was a bit of a head-scratcher. At 43, they picked up linebacker Jahlani Tavai. At that moment, I was in a bar, and I witnessed people shouting out WHO??? He is so unknown, ESPN went to commercial immediately, presumably because they didn’t have any video of the guy. I talked to Dave Birkett, Lions beat writer for the Free Press, on Sports Final Edition and he said every scout he has talked to thinks this pick was a reach, but, this is a linebacker that perfectly fits into the Lion’s system. 

It looks like the Lions did a good job in round five, when they picked up a corner from Penn State, Amani Oruwariye. Their last pick, in the 7th round, looks to be solid as well. PJ Johnson, a defensive tackle from Arizona. 

So here we are again. Another draft in the books. Despite your feelings on the individual picks, are the Lions better overall? I think so. They had no tight end threat last year, now they do. They needed to get a safety to replace Glover Quinn, they got one in Will Harris from Boston College. They had already shored up that defensive line with the addition of Trey Flowers from New England, but this weekend they added when they drafted another guy from Clemson, Austin Bryant. 

I think they are a better football team. There, I said it. Now, it’s up to Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia to execute their plan. They got the guys they wanted for their system. They passed up what some believe to be better players to get “their guys.” It’s time to execute, a 6-10 season from a year ago is not going to cut it. Lions need to improve in the division. They need to have a winning season. They need to win a playoff game. 

Ready. Set. Go.