Road to the Draft

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O'HARA'S MONDAY COUNTDOWN: A history of who's been available at 8

Bob Quinn will be operating at a different level than in previous drafts with a top 10 pick for the first time in his four years as general manager of the Detroit Lions.

The Lions will have the eighth pick in the first round on April 25, and history shows that Quinn should have a deeper talent pool available than in his first three drafts.

“Will there be more players available to us at No 8? Absolutely,” Quinn said in an interview posted on Detroitlions.com.

“Now, really, the whole draft is open to us. That really opens up a little more of the top end that we really haven’t been used to diving into in terms of evaluating.”

Drafting lower, Quinn got consistent starters in his first three drafts with Taylor Decker in 2016 (16th), Jarrad Davis in 2017 (21) and Frank Ragnow in 2018 (20).

As higher quality prospects come with higher picks, so does higher expectations and scrutiny.

Our annual Monday Countdown comparison look back, shows mixed results over the last 10 years on how teams have fared drafting at No. 8. There have been clear winners and clear losers, and others where it was a matter of a choice between offense and defense, with no right or wrong.

In evaluating how teams fared with No. 8 pick in the last 10 drafts from 2009-18, one rule remains the same as in previous years. Only the next five picks are used in making comparisons. In this year’s case, that means 9-13.

That eliminates the classic example of questioning how teams passed on a player in the first round when he was still available in the sixth – as was the case when the Patriots passed on Tom Brady for five rounds – like everybody else – before drafting him in the sixth round in 2000.

Here is the comparison of the eighth pick in the last 10 years:

2009 – Pick 8: OT Eugene Monroe, Virginia, Jaguars.

Next 5: 9. DT B.J. Raji, Boston College, Packers; 10. WR Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech., 49ers; 11. DE Aaron Maybin, Penn State, Bills; 12. RB Knowshon Moreno, Georgia, Broncos; 13. LB Brian Orapko, Texas, Redskins.

Bottom line: The Jaguars could have done better. Monroe was serviceable but out of football after the 2015 season. Orapko, with four Pro Bowls and 66 career sacks, and Crabtree, with 633 career catches, clearly would have been better picks than Monroe. Raji made one Pro Bowl with the Packers. Moreno rushed for 1,038 yards in 2013. Maybin was a disappointment.

2010 – Pick 8: LB Rolando McClain, Alabama, Raiders.

Next 5: 9. RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson, Bills; 10. DT Tyson Alualu, Cal, Jaguars; 11. OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers, 49ers; 12. RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno State, Chargers; 13. DE Brandon Graham, Michigan, Eagles.

Bottom line: McClain never lived up to his draft position. Alualu has been a full-time starter most of his career. Spiller showed flashes but lacked staying power. Smith was a full-time starter for four years before injuries shortened his career. Mathews made one Pro Bowl but also had injury issues. Graham, with 42.5 career sacks – and a Super Bowl clinching play against the Patriots in Super Bowl LII – would have been the best pick of this group.

One pick beyond: Stretching the rules, six picks after the Raiders took McClain, the Seahawks drafted perennial All Pro safety Earl Thomas at lucky No. 13.

2011 – Pick 8: QB Jake Locker, Washington, Titans.

Next 5: 9. OT Tyron Smith, Southern Cal, Cowboys; 10. QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri, Jaguars; 11. DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin, Texans; 12. QB Christian Ponder, Florida State, Vikings; 13. DT Nick Fairley, Auburn, Lions.

Bottom line: The Titans blew this one. They could have had a six-time Pro Bowl tackle in Smith or one of the best pass rushers of the decade in Watt. Locker and Ponder never panned out. Gabbert, who was still active with the Titans in 2018, wasn’t much better. Fairley showed occasional flashes, but his career ended early because of a heart condition. This draft class gave a classic example of quarterbacks being overdrafted.

2012 – Pick 8: QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M, Dolphins.

Next 5: 9. LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College, Panthers; 10. CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina, Bills; 11. DT Dontari Poe, Memphis, Chiefs; 12. DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State, Eagles; 13. WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame, Cardinals.

Bottom line: The Dolphins could have done better. Tannehill showed promise early but has fizzled lately, partly because of injuries. Kuechly, Gilmore, Poe and Cox are consistent Pro Bowlers who rank among the league’s best at their position. Floyd, not so much.

2013 – Pick 8: WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia, Rams.

Next 5: 9. CB Dee Milliner, Alabama, Jets; 10. G Chance Warmack, Alabama, Titans; 11. OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama, Chargers; 12. CB DJ Hayden, Houston, Raiders; 13. DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri, Jets.

Bottom line: The Rams took a chance on an undersized college playmaker, and it didn’t pay off. Of the next five, only Richardson stands out as clearly a better choice. He made one Pro Bowl in his second season with eight sacks. Milliner played only 21 games and is out of football. Warmack, Fluker, Hayden and Richardson all were on their third team in 2018. If nothing else this group is well traveled.

2014 – 8: CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State, Browns.

Next 5: 9. LB Anthony Barr, UCLA, Vikings; 10. TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina, Lions; 11. OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan, Titans; 12. WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU, Giants; 13. DT Aaron Donald, Pitt, Rams.

Bottom line: The Browns could not have done worse. No need to overanalyze this one. Passing would have been a better option. Gilbert was out of football after three seasons. The next nine players have made at least one Pro Bowl.

2015 – 8: LB Vic Beasley, Clemson, Falcons.

Next 5: 9. OT Ereck Flowers, Miami (Fla.), Giants; 10. RB Todd Gurley, Georgia, Rams; 11. CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State, Vikings; 12. DT Danny Shelton, Washington, Browns; 13. OT Andrus Peat, Stanford, Saints.

Bottom line: The Falcons wanted an impact player for the defense and got one. Gurley is a better player, but the Falcons have had enough offense. Beasley and Gurley are the only players in this group to make a Pro Bowl (one for Beasley, three for Gurley). No beef with this Falcons’ pick.

2016 – 8: OT Jack Conklin, Michigan State, Titans.

Next 5: 9. LB Leonard Floyd, Georgia, Bears; 10. CB Eli Apple, Ohio State, Giants; 11. CB Vernon Hargreaves, Florida, Bucs; 12. DT Sheldon Rankins, Louisville, Saints; 13. OT Laremy Tunsil, Mississippi, Dolphins.

Bottom line: A good, solid pick in Conklin. The only question is if you’d prefer defensive impact – 15.5 sacks by Floyd, 14 by Rankins, and both were on playoff teams. Apple was traded to the Saints in 2018. Hargreaves has played 26 games with one start. Tunsil has started 44 of 48 games. The Titans should be happy with Conklin at No. 8 – as should the Lions with Taylor Decker at No. 16 in the same draft.

2017 – 8: RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford, Panthers.

Next 5: 9. WR John Ross, Washington, Bengals; 10. QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech., Chiefs; 11. CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State, Saints; 12. QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson, Texans; 13. LB Haason Reddick, Temple, Cardinals.

Bottom line: McCaffrey fits the Panthers as a runner and receiver out of the backfield. Obviously, Mahomes is a star, and Watson’s mobility adds to his value. The Panthers were not in the market for a quarterback and can’t be faulted for passing on those two, or for not taking Lattimore. The Panthers got what they wanted and needed.

2018 – 8: LB Roquan Smith, Georgia, Bears.

Next 5: 9. OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame, 49ers; 10. QB Josh Rosen, UCLA, Cardinals; 11. S Minkah Fltzpatrick, Alabama, Dolphins; 12. DT Vita Vea, Washington, Bucs; 13. DT Daron Payne, Alabama, Redskins.

Bottom line: Smith was a playmaker in the regular season for the Bears and continued that in the playoffs with an interception. They might not have hit home runs, but nobody swung and missed in this group. They all connected – Bears included.

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