Detroit Lions Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State – Round 1
This was an easy pick as I think Decker will quickly be a solid starter for the Lions. Detroit needed tackle help to shore up its offensive line, and Decker was a rock for the Buckeyes across the past few seasons. Immediately, Decker should be able to step in at right tackle and provide a more effective offensive line for protecting Matthew Stafford and opening holes for Ameer Abdullah.

At 6-foot-7, 310 pounds, Decker is perfectly suited to man right tackle. He played on the left side at Ohio State, but he is a better fit on the right side as he has some limitations with speed and athleticism to be a left tackle in the NFL. Perhaps Decker can overcome those issues after gaining experience against pro edge rushers, but at the very least, he should be a good right tackle. He is a good run defender who opened a lot of holes for Ezekiel Elliott over the past few seasons and was reliable in pass protection.

Given the players on the Lions’ roster, Decker should start immediately. If there is an injury to Riley Reiff, Decker could move to left tackle, but right tackle looks like his long-term home. Detroit could add a more athletic left tackle than Reiff in the years to come and have two good bookends.

Most Likely To Bust

A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama – Round 2
This could easily be the boom selection as well. Robinson has a great skill set with natural speed and athleticism to go along with size and strength. In terms of skill sets, Robinson has the physical ability to be a tremendous football player. The reason I’m picking him as the bust is because of intangibles that I think could prevent him from reaching his potential.

In speaking with sources, they say that Robinson has a ton of natural talent, and if weren’t for his lack of consistency, he could have been in contention for the No. 1-overall pick. However, there are other issues with Robinson that really hurt his play and draft stock. Teams felt from their pre-draft interviews that Robinson lacked dedication and a passion for the game. They felt that was one of the reasons for his inconsistent play. Another problem for teams was Robinson had a serious lack of knowledge about the NFL and the team’s coaches. That was an indicator that Robinson doesn’t watch much football and gave further justification for their concerns that he doesn’t love the game.

I could see Robinson being similar to former Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley. Robinson’ll be great when he turns it on and is motivated, but will be inconsistent and may never reach his potential, like Fairley. I could see Robinson playing his best in a contract year and when he has a pay day as motivation. However, Robinson has to get to that point in his fourth year and I think he could end up going bust before then.

Potential Boom Pick

Graham Glasgow, C, Michigan – Round 3
This wasn’t a real glamorous pick, but I think it could pay off really well for Detroit. Glasgow is a versatile blocker who does everything well. Not only is he a solid player, he has a nasty style of play, and I think that could set an example throughout the Lions’ offensive line. Being the man in the middle, the center is a natural leadership position as the blocker who makes calls with the quarterback.

The 6-foot-6, 306-pounder has good size to be a center in the NFL. Glasgow could add weight to add more strength if he wanted to, but doesn’t have to. He has the power to function in a man-blocking scheme and the athleticism to fit in zone. After his college games ended, Glasgow was phenomenal at the all-star games as he was extremely impressive at both the East-West Shrine and the Senior Bowl. Glasgow showed power in his base in the pass-rushing one-on-ones and was definitely a unique center in this regard.

Glasgow looks ready to compete quickly, and I think he could be the starter in short order. Travis Swanson has been a disappointment, and obviously, the Lions didn’t use a third-round pick on Glasgow if they thought that Swanson was the answer. It wouldn’t surprise me if Glasgow is a true replacement for Dominic Raiola and ends up being a 10-year starting center for the Lions.

Future Depth Player

Miles Killebrew, S, Southern Utah – Round 4
Killebrew had some vocal supporters in the draft media and among draftniks. However at the Senior Bowl, Killebrew showed that he is a work in progress as he needs to develop his instincts and avoid taking false steps in pass coverage. Killebrew is a big, physical run defender, but NFL receivers are going to pick on him until he improves his coverage. Killebrew is a hard-hitter who will look to light up ball-carriers at any time possible, so I think he will be an asset on special teams. I don’t think Killebrew will ever develop the coverage skills to be a good starter, but he could become a quality backup who is a core special teams contributor.

Walt’s 2016 NFL Draft Grades:

16. Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State B Grade
Taylor Decker was projected to go in the 14-20 range, so this makes sense as far as that is concerned. He’s also a good fit in terms of need. The Lions’ pass protection was an abomination at times last year. They needed a left tackle, but weren’t going to get that here at No. 16. The right tackle spot had to be addressed as well, however, and the Lions will be better at that spot with Decker. This deserves a solid “B” grade.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

46. A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama C- Grade
A’Shawn Robinson said some sketchy things in some team interviews, prompting him to drop. Teams had concerns about his passion for football, causing him to fall even more. This might be seen as a great value, but Robinson was a projected mid second-round pick with everything factored in. I don’t like this pick very much. This isn’t a great fit, and I’m not convinced that Robinson is going to give Detroit his full effort.

95. Graham Glasgow, C/G, Michigan B+ Grade
I really thought the Cardinals would take Graham Glasgow, as they were considering him at No. 92. They loved Glasgow’s versatility, so I’m sure the Lions value that as well. Glasgow also has plenty of starting experience at Michigan. The one negative is a DUI he was issued in 2014, but he figures to be a good player for the Lions.

111. Miles Killebrew, S, Southern Utah B+ Grade
Miles Killebrew was a highly productive safety in Utah, and then he thrived at the Combine, testing extremely well. There was some concern about him not having a pure position in the NFL, but I could see the hard-hitting Killebrew working out as a linebacker-safety hybrid that is becoming ever popular in the NFL.

151. Joe Dahl, G/OT, Washington State B Grade
Joe Dahl played left tackle at Washington State, but he’ll have to move inside in the pros, thanks to his short arms. That’s fine, as the Lions are happy to address their interior offensive line depth. Dahl makes sense as a mid fifth-round choice.

169. Antwione Williams, LB, Georgia Southern C Grade
It’s not surprising that the Lions drafted a linebacker, but Antwione Williams? He was not in my top 400, as he wasn’t even that great of a player for Georgia Southern. He could’ve easily been picked up in the seventh round or as a UDFA.

191. Jake Rudock, QB, Michigan C Grade
It makes sense that the Lions would take a developmental quarterback at this juncture, but picking Jake Rudock over Vernon Adams is highly questionable. Rudock played well this past season, but did so under Jim Harbaugh. As we’ve seen, quarterbacks not named Andrew Luck get substantially worse after being separated from Harbaugh.

202. Anthony Zettel, DE/DT, Penn State A- Grade
Anthony Zettel was a very productive player at Penn State. He also tested pretty well at the Combine. So, why did he drop into the sixth round? It’s become he’s a tweener who doesn’t have a true position. He has the skill set of a defensive tackle, but at 277 pounds, he’s light. That said, he can be a very effective pass-rushing specialist on obvious passing downs, and I think he’ll be great in that role. The Lions obtained a good football player.

210. Jimmy Landes, LS, Baylor C+ Grade
I’m not going to put much thought into grading a long-snapper. A C+ seems right for a long-snapper in the sixth round.

236. Dwayne Washington, RB, Washington C+ Grade
Dwayne Washington made a terrible mistake of leaving school early despite not having much experience at Washington. He paid the price, dropping to the seventh round despite testing well at his Pro Day. It’ll be tough for him to make Detroit’s final roster.

2016 NFL Draft Team Grade: B- . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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