It’s been a long three days, but the 2019 NFL Draft is finally complete, and the Detroit Lions believe they’ve improved their team with the addition of nine draft picks. The work isn’t over, however, as the business of signing undrafted rookie free agents is ongoing.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn took some time Saturday evening to take questions from the media and break down his draft. Here are the key questions from that session:
Where is the team most improved after the last three days?
The Lions added five players on defense and four on offense, including No. 8 overall pick T.J. Hockenson.
“I think we elevated our team speed, our athleticism and our competitiveness,” Quinn said. “Those are probably three things that jump out.”
The tight end, secondary and defensive line, especially, were bolstered over the last three days, and should be much more competitive come training camp.
How much more comfortable is Quinn drafting in the framework of Matt Patricia’s schemes and the players that fit them?
Quinn worked in the New England Patriots scouting department for a long time before coming to Detroit as GM in 2016. He said there’s a greater comfort level the last two years being back in familiar territory with Patricia as head coach.
Quinn had to adjust in 2016 because the Lions were running different systems than he was used to, especially defensively, under Teryl Austin.
He’s now back to the schemes and players he's most familiar with.
“To be completely honest, I feel more comfortable grading and evaluating players in this system,” Quinn said. “Just because I’ve done it for so much longer.”
Is Quinn still looking to add a guard?
Quinn will always be open to adding talent at any position, but he did say Saturday that he is happy with what he currently has on the roster at the position. In that regard, he wasn’t going to reach for a prospect.
“Once you get into the third day of the draft, you are never going to reach for guys,” he said. “You really have to follow the board. Just because you might have a little bit of an opening on the depth chart, you don’t want to reach for a player grade wise. We stayed very, very true to the board today. That’s kind of how it fell to us.”
Any surprises in the draft?
Quinn was pleasantly surprised early in Day 3 with the opportunity to draft defensive end Austin Bryant in the fourth round and cornerback Amani Oruwariye in the fifth round.
Oruwariye was a player Quinn said they talked about in the fourth round. Bryant was graded a little higher than Oruwariye, which is why he was the pick in the fourth round. Quinn was able to land both players, and felt good about that.
What was the reasoning behind not taking a quarterback?
Quinn has said in the past that it’s good business to draft a quarterback at least every other year. The team has now gone two consecutive drafts without taking one.
Part of the reason was following his board, but he also likes the trio he currently has on the roster.
“We have three guys on the team right now,” he said. “Connor Cook, who we signed as a future, who you guys are familiar with, who has immense talent. Then we signed Tom Savage a few weeks ago as the veteran presence. We feel good about that room.”
What does Quinn currently like the most about his defense as it’s currently constructed?
“I think our defense, when I look at it, is a lot of pieces that the coaches can use in different spots,” he said. “A lot of guys that can play two positions. Some guys that can play three positions. So, it’s going to give us a lot of options week-to-week on game plan coach wants to put together with the defensive staff and give us a lot of options.”
In this defense, which finished 10th overall last year, versatility is key. Quinn thinks that could be a staple of this unit moving forward.