Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn probably didn’t spend a whole lot of time scouting running back Saquon Barkley or edge rusher Bradley Chubb last offseason. Both players were considered the best at their respective positions entering last year’s NFL Draft, and both wound up being selected in the top five picks.
The same probably goes for edge rusher Myles Garrett the year prior or pass rusher Joey Bosa and running back Ezekiel Elliott the year before that.
In his last three seasons as Detroit’s GM, the highest pick Quinn’s had in the draft was No. 16 back in 2016, a pick he used to select left tackle Taylor Decker. The last two seasons he’s picked in the 20’s at No. 20 and 21, respectively.
After a disappointing 2018 season saw the Lions win just six games, Quinn will have his first crack at a top 10 pick – if they don’t move back – in this year's draft. With that comes a greater pool of players to scout and it makes the jobs of the Lions’ personnel department this offseason a little more extensive.
“When you’re drafting at 21 or even 16, there are five or six players you don’t even spend a lot of time on because you just know they’re going to go in the top couple and you know you’re not trading up because you don’t have the ammunition to go there,” Quinn said.
“So, it just widens the pool a little bit. We’re going to have to look at basically every player in that, say, top 15, because you want to make sure if someone slips to you, you’re ready and you’re prepared to draft them, and the evaluation is spot on. It just opens it up a little bit more.”
The Lions didn’t have a single player voted to the All-Pro teams this past season. They had just one player named to the Pro Bowl (cornerback Darius Slay) and one Pro Bowl alternate (defensive back Quandre Diggs). Quinn made it clear in his postseason press conference he’s on the lookout for playmakers on both sides of the ball.
Selecting in the top 10 of the draft is a pretty good place to start looking for those players. Of the 50 players who’ve been selected in the first 10 picks over the last five drafts, nearly half (23) have made at least one Pro Bowl.
While least year’s draft was heavy on offense in the top 10, defensive linemen, pass rushers and defenders in general are expected to dominate the top of this draft, though there’s still a lot that can happen in the next three months with the NFL Scouting Combine (February), pro days (March & April) and individual workouts.
But if those projections hold, the Lions could potentially be in a position to add a solid player to an already improved defense with the eighth pick.
A pick in the top 10 means everyone is potentially in play for the Lions, and it means Quinn and his staff will be extra busy this offseason spending time on each and every one of them.