Quinn: Ragnow Was "Definitely Going To Cincinnati," Johnson Likely To Washington

The Lions pounced on certain players before other teams had the chance. 

Will Burchfield
April 30, 2018 - 12:21 pm

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

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While the Lions have drawn criticism for reaching on a number of players in the draft, Bob Quinn believes Detroit was a step ahead of the competition. The Lions pounced on certain picks before other teams had the chance. 

It started in the first round with center Frank Ragnow. Had the Lions passed on Ragnow at No. 20, the Bengals (No. 21), the Patriots (No. 23) and the Vikings (No. 30) all look poised to move in. The Bengals, who drafted fellow center Billy Price instead, almost surely would have scooped Ragnow up. 

"I think it was very, very well-known throughout the league that Frank Ragnow was going at No. 21 to Cincinnati," Quinn told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket. "Even Frank, he came in here the day after we drafted him and I said, 'Where did you think you were gonna go?' and he said, 'Oh, I thought for sure I was going 21 to Cincinatti. They basically told me that.'"

"That was out there in the media," Quinn added. "If you did a Google search a week before the draft, he was definitely going to Cincinnati." 

The Lions, not surprisingly, tried hard to keep their interest in Ragnow under the radar, wary of showing their hand. In the end they got the guy they wanted. 

A similar scenario unfolded in the second round. Keen on adding a running back, the Lions traded up from No. 51 to No. 43 to grab Auburn's Kerryon Johnson. The Redskins were "preparing to take" Johnson one pick later, according to ESPN, a factor of which Quinn was well aware. 

"The Washington situation in round two, they were a team that we knew (was) going to be competition for running backs. We weren’t sure exactly who they liked to be honest, I just knew they were going to be in the market for a running back in the second round. To get above them kind of gave us our options of a couple guys that were on the board, and obviously Kerryon was a guy that we went up and got," Quinn said.

The Lions sacrificed their fourth-round pick to facilitate the deal, a price Quinn said was fair market value -- and one he was willing to pay to address a longtime team need. 

"We set into the draft wanting to add a running back, and we had on our eye on a couple guys that we had highly rated on our board," he said. "We felt in the second round there was going to be a run on some of the guys that we liked, so we needed to get above a couple teams that we knew were interested in the same guys we were interested in. 

"In the second round to give up that fourth-rounder, if you look at the trade value chart that’s about the going rate to move up in the second round. That was an easy call for us." 

Perhaps the Lions' most criticized pick was safety Tracey Walker in round three (No. 81 overall). Projected by most pundits to go at least two rounds later, Walker himself admitted he expected to be drafted in round five. But there were a few teams in on Walker in the third, with ESPN reporting the Panthers were ready to take him at No. 85, and the Lions seemed thrilled to get him when they did. 

"We were excited about the pick because there were a few teams in front of us that we were a little nervous about," Quinn said. "Not to name names, but we do all our research and we know who visited with which teams, and there were two teams in the 10 or 12 picks (before) us that had visited with him." 

Critics have also said Quinn surrendered too many assets in a draft in which the Lions already had an NFL-low six picks. After giving up their fourth-rounder to draft Johnson, the Lions sacrificed their 2019 third-rounder to move back into the fourth. They drafted defensive end Da'Shawn Hand at No. 114, addressing another hole on their roster. 

"He was kind of one of the guys in the front seven that we really liked going into the weekend. To have him still sit there in the fourth round, we thought especially with the number of picks we have next year -- we had nine picks in the 2019 Draft -- to give up one of those we felt was good value to get a player now," Quinn said. 

The Lions rounded out the draft by selecting tackle Tyrell Crosby in the fifth round and fullback Nick Bawden in the seventh. Crosby, the Pac-12 Offensive Lineman of the Year last season, was originally projected to go in rounds two or three. Quinn said the "value was just too good to pass up." 

"Honestly, if you asked me (Friday) night if I thought he was going to be there in the fifth round I probably would have said no chance. I thought he was going to be probably one of the first five or 10 guys off the board in round four, so it was a long wait," Quinn said. 

Particularly early in the draft, the Lions' preparation paid dividends. It can be debated whether a pick can be justified through opportunity cost, whether the threat of losing a player to another team warrants drafting that player first, but Quinn is happy with how things shook out. 

"We do a lot of research the weeks and months leading up to the draft of, number one, what are the other teams’ needs, and number two, what specific players other teams are really interested in," Quinn said. "Our pro personnel department does a great job putting together a comprehensive study of all those things and then it’s really just word of mouth, you call around to other teams."

"This isn’t just throwing darts at a board and (saying), ‘Oh, we think they’re going to take this guy,'" he added. "There’s a lot of study and a lot of analytical thinking that goes on prior to the draft to make sure we're ready to pounce on those situations."