Lions Draft History: Re-Grading 2016-2020 Drafts

August 11, 2022

Since 2016, 15 of the 43 Detroit Lions players drafted remain on the team. We’re grading those players and the others in a re-grade of Lions’ drafts since 2016.

The season premiere of Hard Knocks has ramped up excitement around the Detroit Lions’ outlook for 2022. It has been reported that Dan Campbell plans to play most of the starters for the whole first quarter in their first preseason game this Friday, August 12th. There will be much to talk about and analyze from those performances, but for now, it’s time to take a look back to see who will be playing this season that was drafted by the old regime. We will look at the immediate draft grades made in April for each year and I’ll give my own hindsight grade an analysis. Let’s jump into these up-and-down draft classes from the Lions in the Bob Quinn era!

Lions Draft Grades Since 2016 Have Improved After Poor Start

2016

1. Round One (16): Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
2. Round Two (46):  A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
3. Round Three (95): Graham Glasgow, C, Michigan
4. Round Four (111): Miles Killebrew, SS, Southern Utah
5. Round Five (151): Joe Dahl, OG/OT, Washington State
6. Round Five (169): Antwione Williams, LB, Georgia Southern
7. Round Six (191): Jake Rudock, QB, Michigan
8. Round Six (202): Anthony Zettel, DT/DE, Penn State
9. Round Six (210): Jimmy Landes, LS, Baylor
10. Round Seven (236): Dwayne Washington, RB, Washington

CBS Sports Grade in April 2016: B-

My Grade Now: D+

Taylor Decker is the lone player still on the Lions from this draft class, but he has been a staple of the offensive line since he was drafted. A’Shawn Robinson showed some potential but never lived up to his second-round capital. Glasgow was a solid player but didn’t seem to fit in with the old coaching staff and wasn’t re-signed when his deal was up. I’ll be honest, I barely remember Antwione Williams at all, and the other late-round dart throws never really contributed.

2017

1. Round One (21): LB Jarrad Davis, Florida
2. Round Two (53): CB Teez Tabor, Florida
3. Round Three (96): WR Kenny Golladay, Northern Illinois
4. Round Four (124): LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Tennessee
5. Round Five (128): TE Michael Roberts, Toledo
6. Round Five (165): CB Jamal Agnew, San Diego
7. Round Six (205): DT Jeremiah Ledbetter, Arkansas
8. Round Six (215): QB Brad Kaaya, Miami
9. Round Seven (236): DE Pat O’Connor, Eastern Michigan

CBS Sports Grade in April 2017: D

My Grade Now: D

First-rounder Jarrad Davis is also the lone player still on the roster from this draft class, but he’s possibly on the roster bubble or will only be playing a rotational or special teams role. The fears of his instincts and awareness during the draft process have stuck with him throughout his career. Tabor was a disaster. Golladay had a good couple of years but has seemed to have fizzled out with the Giants. Reeves-Maybin and Agnew had some good special teams contributions but never had major roles. Overall, this may have been the worst draft by the Lions under Bob Quinn.

2018

1. Round One (20): C Frank Ragnow, Arkansas
2. Round Two (43): RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn
3. Round Three (82): DB Tracy Walker, Louisiana-Lafayette
4. Round Four (114): DL Da’Shawn Hand, Alabama
5. Round Five (153): OL Tyrell Crosby, Oregon
6. Round Seven (237): FB Nick Bawden, San Diego State


CBS Sports Grade in April 2018: B

My Grade Now: C+

Ragnow is a centerpiece (pun intended) for this team going forward and the current coaching staff trusts Tracy Walker as a leader of the defense. Kerryon Johnson fizzled out quickly after knee injuries and similarly, Da’Shawn Hand couldn’t stay on the field. Crosby had a conflict with this new regime when he suffered his own injuries during training camp last year, which may have ended his career. If all three of those players could have escaped major injuries, this draft class would be graded much differently and the Lions would be even stronger at key positions.

2019

1. Round One (8): TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
2. Round Two (43): LB Jahlani Tavai, Hawaii
3. Round Three (81): DB Will Harris, Boston College
4. Round Four (117): DE Austin Bryant, Clemson
5. Round Five (146): CB Amani Oruwariye, Penn State
6. Round Six (184): WR Travis Fulgham, Old Dominion
7. Round Six (186): RB Ty Johnson, Maryland
8. Round Seven (224): TE Isaac Nauta, Georgia
9. Round Seven (229): DT PJ Johnson, Arizona

CBS Sports Grade in April 2019: C

My Grade Now: B-

Hockenson, Harris, and Oruwariye are projected to be starters this year and will play big roles. Austin Bryant may make the team and contribute, but he’s more on the roster bubble with the deep D-Line group. Tavai was a questionable pick at the time and proved those concerns were warranted with his play. Oruwariye was the steal of this draft class, projecting to be the CB1, with Harris competing with Okudah for the CB2 starting spot for the upcoming year. Hockenson still has time to develop into an elite all-around tight end, which is why I graded this class better than the years before it.

2020

1. Round One (3): CB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State
2. Round Two (35): RB D’Andre Swift, Georgia
3. Round Three (67): EDGE Julian Okwara, Notre Dame
4. Round Three (75): G Jonah Jackson, Ohio State
5. Round Four (121): G Logan Stenberg, Kentucky
6. Round Five (166): WR Quintez Cephus, Wisconsin
7. Round Five (172): RB Jason Huntley, New Mexico State
8. Round Six (197): DI John Penisini, Utah
9. Round Seven (235): DI Jashon Cornell, Ohio State

CBS Sports Grade in April 2020: C+

My Grade Now: A-

If Penisini hadn’t retired this offseason, Detroit would still have 8/9 of these players on their roster. A bounce-back season from Okudah and continued improvement from Swift could make this draft class an all-time great for the Lions franchise. Okwara looks to take on a pass-rushing role and Jonah Jackson was a Pro-Bowl Alternate last season. At least with his final draft in Detroit, Bob Quinn didn’t leave Brad Holmes without a few building blocks to put together competitive squads in the coming years.