Players in the Detroit Lions’ 2018 draft class who had to sit and wait until Day 3 to hear their names called can look to successful veteran teammates who had similar draft experiences as examples to follow.
The higher the draft position, the sooner the celebration begins. After that, the work begins for every player in every round.
The opportunity is there for players taken in Rounds 4-7 on Day 3. They have to make the most of it – the way such previous Lions Day 3 picks like Jamal Agnew, Anthony Zettel, Sam Martin, Theo Riddick and others have done in the past.
Three of the Lions’ six draft picks this year were on Day 3: Defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand of Alabama (fourth), offensive lineman Tyrell Crosby of Oregon (fifth) and fullback Nick Bawden of San Diego State (seventh).
They’ll learn that every step is important – from the OTAs that began this week through all four preseason games – in carving out a role.
General manager Bob Quinn talked about the traits he looks for deeper in the draft in his pre-draft press conference this year.
“A lot of the conversation around who to take, especially when you get into the second, third, fourth, fifth rounds, is draft strategy,” Quinn said.
Strategy came into play on Day 3 this year. The Lions traded a third-round pick to the Patriots next year to move up into the fourth round to take Hand, a player they felt could help them with his skill set and versatility.
They weren’t targeting an offensive lineman, but felt Crosby was too good to pass up in the fifth round. Quinn called him a “value pick,” and said he had projected Crosby to be gone early in the fourth round. Bawden was the best available fullback in the seventh round.
While the rookies get assimilated into the program, they can look at Agnew as a prime example of a player who outperformed both his draft position and the stigma of playing for a small school.
As a fifth-round pick out of San Diego, the overall athleticism Agnew had shown in college was confirmed early in the offseason workouts and carried through in the regular season.
Agnew returned two punts for touchdowns and was voted first-team All-Pro as a punt returner by the Associated Press. Agnew also contributed in spot duty on defense and offense.
Agnew’s All-Pro status stands out, but he’s not the Lions’ only Day 3 success story of the previous two drafts. Quinn drafted 13 players on Day 3 in his first two years as GM. Nine are still with the Lions. Only one – long snapper Jimmy Landes, a sixth-round pick in 2016 – is not on an NFL roster.
From the 2016 draft, sixth-round pick Anthony Zettel was a rotation backup on the defensive line as a rookie and started all 16 games last year. He was second on the team with 6.5 sacks.
Also from the 2016 Day 3 class, the Lions have gotten depth from safety Miles Killebrew, guard Joe Dahl and running back Dwayne Washington. Jake Rudock took over last year as the backup quarterback.
From the 2017 Day 3 picks, tight end Michael Roberts started seven games. Defensive lineman Jeremiah Ledbetter played all 16 games as a backup. Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin played 14 games, also as a backup.