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Is Bob Quinn Leaning Toward Offense In First Round Of Draft?

He sounds inclined to wait on defense.

April 18, 2019 - 6:58 pm
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Aside from his clear interest in trading down in the first round, little is known about Bob Quinn's agenda heading into the draft. 

The Lions have needs on both sides of the ball, even after a flurry of signings in free agency. On offense, the list starts at guard, tight end and wide receiver. On defense, it begins at cornerback, edge rusher and linebacker. 

Where will Quinn strike first? 

The exact position is anyone's guess, but offense seems like a good bet. In a draft deep with defensive talent, Quinn sounds inclined on waiting until the middle rounds to address that side of the ball.

"Sometimes when you’re looking at the board there might be a couple guys you like at the top, but there’s a whole group of guys kind of in that next tier that are really good players who might be better values," Quinn said on Thursday. "Maybe that’s something you have to look at in terms of, hey, do you wait on that until the middle rounds to grab somebody?

"This year I think there’s a number of positions, I’d say especially on the defensive side of the board, that are good players that could come in and help immediately but I don’t think that you really need to take them super early." 

It also bears mention that Detroit's two biggest free agent acquisitions, defensive end Trey Flowers and cornerback Justin Coleman, came on defense. The additions of wide receiver Danny Amendola and tight end Jesse James don't fill holes to the same degree. 

Then again, Quinn noted Thursday that both wide receiver and tight end are positions of depth in the draft. So his urgency might not be high there, either. 

That still leaves guard as a distinct possibility in the first round, with the Lions in search of a replacement for T.J. Lang. Quinn said his offensive line coaches put more scouting hours in this year than in the past, in part because there are so many good options on the table. The talent is particularly deep on the interior. 

One thing working in Quinn's favor this year is the increased depth across Detroit's roster. He still intends to draft with team needs in mind, but his decisions won't be as dictated by that piece of the equation. 

"I've always said the draft is a blend of need and best (player) available. I think this year, just looking at our situation right now, what the board looks like and what our perceived needs are, probably pushing a little bit more toward the best available player," Quinn said. "I think that’s a good thing.

"Now, things can change between now and September, but I think going into it this year we feel a little bit better about the depth at certain positions." 

As for the defensive players on the board, Quinn called it an "interesting year." While there's plenty of talent, there aren't many prototypes at each position. That could see a run of offensive players early on.

"I’d say there’s a lot of defensive players in this draft that might not fit the exact model of the size and speed for each position, but I think when you watch their film they’re really good players," Quinn said. "They might just be a little small for their respective positions.

"But this game nowadays in the NFL, it’s a third-down game, it’s a sub game. We’re in nickel defense 75 percent of the time, so some of these guys that are a little bit smaller you kind of have to step away and say, 'What can they do on third down and what can they do on nickel defense?' since we’re in it so much."

If Quinn doesn't love what sees when the eighth overall pick rolls around next Thursday night, expect him to pull the trigger on moving back. And then don't rule out Detroit taking an offensive lineman for the second year in a row.