Executive producer and analyst for NFL Matchup and senior producer at NFL Films for 38 years, Greg Cosell, has been kind enough to break down the Lions' draft picks for detroitlions.com the past five seasons, and has agreed to do so for a sixth year.
Cosell’s opinions are based on hours and hours spent watching the All-22 film and evaluating these prospects. Cosell is one of the most honest evaluators in the business, and is well respected among NFL circles.
You can follow him on Twitter at @gregcosell.
Here’s what he had to say about the Lions' 2018 Draft Class:
Note: Cosell did not evaluate fullback Nick Bawden, who the Lions drafted out of San Diego State in the seventh round.
Round 1 (20 overall) Frank Ragnow, C/G, Arkansas
Cosell: “Very comfortable and composed in his pass sets with controlled lateral movement and good knee bend for his height and length. Showed the needed lateral movement and balance to mirror and re-direct in pass protection, showed very good awareness and recognition of stunts and pressures. Excellent snap to step quickness as a run blocker which was especially evident versus even fronts getting to the second level. Excellent awareness reading second level movement and executing combo blocks with timing and efficiency.
“Played with excellent overall balance and body control and was a refined efficient technician. Snap to snap consistency of execution a defining feature of Ragnow's game.
"The strength of his game is consistency of execution with a refined understanding of blocking schemes and angles. A deceptively good athlete, which showed up in his athletic testing at Arkansas Pro Day. Ragnow also brings excellent fundamental technique and advanced feel and awareness combined with good natural strength and high-level competitiveness and toughness to the interior offensive line position.
"Ragnow's game is about efficiency of execution and he stood out in that area getting the job done snap after snap and that kind of consistency, when combined with high level competitiveness, almost always translates well to the NFL and interior offensive line play.
"They (Detroit) want to have some kind of physical run team, so now they have Ragnow, who's that kind of guy. Very competitive and physical guy.
"Detroit has tough guys (on the interior of the offensive line). You probably wouldn't call any of those guys super highly athletic, but I've learned in studying interior linemen over the years that's the least important thing for interior guys. It's competing. It's getting it done. It's battling. It's technique. You don't have to be a dancing bear on the inside."
Round 2 (43) Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn
Cosell: “Johnson is a very patient runner with excellent vision and feel for reading his blocks and finding holes at the line of scrimmage. Johnson is a prime example of speed through the hole not speed to the hole. His short area burst consistently showed up and was a defining trait of his running.
“What consistently stood out about Johnson was he was a highly competitive runner, who ran with physicality and toughness and courage inside and squeezed every inch out of every run.
“My sense is Johnson would be most effective in a run game whose foundation was more gap scheme than zone, although he could be effective running inside zone. The question is whether Johnson transitions to the NFL as a workhorse back. He's a four-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust type of runner without an explosive dimension to his game. He is not a game breaking type of runner, but a sustainer who can keep an offense on schedule.
"He runs hard. He's a hard, hard runner."
Round 3 (82) Tracy Walker, S, Louisiana-Lafayette
Cosell: “He’s sort of a Matt Patricia kind of player in his ability to line up in different spots. That is so important for how (Bill) Belichick and obviously Patricia see the game defensively. I think that’s one reason he was such an attractive player for the Lions.
"Walker looks the part of an NFL safety with a long sinewy build and long arms – Combine testing numbers in the athletic explosion categories were excellent. He played downhill with aggression in the run game and showed the balance and body control to square up and make tackles. Good feel for run fits both as a box safety and as a downhill alley defender. Overall there was a physical presence to his game.
“Significant snaps over the slot and his matchup versus Texas A&M's Christian Kirk presents possibilities for Walker as a slot corner in sub-packages. Played some snaps at outside corner versus Ole Miss.
“What consistently stood out was there was a physical toughness and competitiveness to Walker's game and he played with high energy and activity on every snap. Walker gives a defense a lot of position versatility with his ability to line up in different spots in sub-packages and be effective: 2 shell, single high, 1 robber, slot corner in both man and zone, dime LB (sack versus South Alabama), snaps at outside corner versus Ole Miss.
“When I saw that pick I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a really interesting pick for the Lions given that Patricia’s there.’”
Round 4 (114) Da’Shawn Hand, DL, Alabama
Cosell: “Looks the part with his length, long arms and solid muscular build of a multi-dimensional defensive lineman, who can be effective in both 4-3 and 3-4 front alignments. Showed the hand strength to control and displace offensive linemen and make tackles in the run game.
“Did not consistently play to his athleticism and at times did not look like he was playing with the demanded urgency.
“Hand's tape showed a higher-level athlete with the kind of movement you don't normally see from a 297-pound defensive lineman – he ran a 4.85 40-yard dash at the Combine at 297 pounds. Hand has the traits to develop into a strong pass rusher both from the defensive end position and inside at defensive tackle, but he needs much coaching and experience to get there.
"At this point Hand is the classic traits prospect, but he didn't play as many snaps or have the kind of production that those traits should have led to. There's much to work with, but coaching will be critical as will be Hand's approach as a professional.”
Round 5 (153), Tyrell Crosby, T, Oregon
Cosell: “Showed the core and lower body strength to generate power through his hips as a drive and angle blocker. Ran his feet on contact showing the needed sustaining and finishing movement. Played low with excellent leverage and balance-body control as a run blocker. Utilized at times as an inside puller in the gap scheme run game. Efficient with compact movement working to the second level in the run game.
“Much more of a power-strength pass protector than an athletic-movement pass protector. Very strong hands to control pass rushers when he engaged early in the down. Lacks top level quickness and lateral movement as a pass protector but very efficient staying square and using his hands rarely giving up the edge.
“Played with physicality and competitive toughness showing a nasty edge at times. Overall an outstanding run blocker with the strength to move the defensive line.
“Very desirable combination of size and power. His size and build are likely better suited to play inside at guard at the next level. His competitiveness and physical approach combined with his drive and angle blocking ability also project better inside.
“There will be teams depending on run game concepts and pass game design that will project Crosby at tackle and my sense is he could be effective outside given his size-length and power, but I believe he has the physical and competitive traits to be an All-Pro OG in the NFL.”