Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn insisted he didn’t see more needs on defense than offense a week before the NFL draft.
When it was time to make picks, Quinn’s actions were much different than his words.
Detroit drafted its first of two linebackers in the opening round, the first of two cornerbacks in the second round and took a pair of defensive ends Saturday on final day of the draft.
The Lions used six of their nine picks on defensive players, and there is a chance many of them could play key roles on the team this year.
Detroit needs help at linebacker, especially with the release of DeAndre Levy, and it selected Florida’s Jarrad Davis with the No. 21 pick overall and Tennessee’s Jalen Reeves-Maybin in the fourth round.
The team also appears to have a void at cornerback, opposite Darius Slay, that may be filled with second-round cornerback Jalen Tabor, a former Gator standout. Jamal Agnew of San Diego, a fifth-round selection, will have an opportunity to add depth.
Likewise, the Lions are looking for a defensive end to play on the other side of Ezekiel Ansah and they took a couple late-round flyers: Arkansas’ Jeremiah Ledbetter in the sixth round and Eastern Michigan’s Pat O’Connor in the seventh.
Here are some other observations from Detroit’s draft:
OTHER SIDE OF BALL
The Lions didn’t ignore their offense, taking Northern Illinois receiver Kenny Golladay in the third round, Toledo tight end Michael Roberts in the fourth and Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya in the sixth. The addition of Roberts could lead to more two tight end sets, putting him on the field with Eric Ebron. He also could become insurance at the position if Quinn doesn’t pick up the option on Ebron’s contract by next week. Roberts set a school record with 16 touchdown receptions last season and led the nation in TD receptions by a tight end.
Kaaya’s mother, Angela Means Kaaya, was in the movie “Friday,” and was the actress Ice Cube was talking to when he said, “Bye, Felicia.”
“She’s actually from right there in Michigan,” he said. “She grew up in in Milan and Detroit. Most of her side of the family is from the Detroit and Milan area. She always had a blue-collar attitude and she instilled that in me.”
PLAYERS WITH PERSPECTIVE
Reeves-Maybin, a cousin of former Detroit Tigers outfielder Cameron Maybin, has watched his father, former Louisville basketball player Maques Maybin, struggle through life after being paralyzed in a 2001 motorcycle accident.
“I just know that I can’t take anything for granted,” he said.
Roberts’ younger brother, Cameron, was fatally shot in the stomach in 2012 when he was 10 in an accidental shooting.
“There’s nothing that can prepare you for such events,” he said. “I use that negative energy and that hurt that I had and just kind of directed it in a positive light to not only graduate college, but to also finish high school. ”
PASSION TO PLAY
Quinn said his first three picks — Davis, Tabor and Golladay— all have something in common.
“We sat across from the tables from all three of these guys, either as a group or individually, and it bleeds that these guys love football and they love to compete,” Quinn said.
Detroit’s first two picks, Davis and Tabor, were teammates at Florida. O’Connor and Golladay both attended the same high school, Chicago’s St. Rita.