Bob Quinn’s first draft class as Detroit Lions general manager featured a lot of linemen, a backup quarterback for the future and a long snapper. It was a draft that filled needs, built from the lines outward and included a couple of questionable selections.
But so far, it has been a pretty strong first draft for the former New England personnel man. All 10 of his picks are either on the roster or injured reserve, and a half-dozen of them -- Taylor Decker, A'Shawn Robinson, Graham Glasgow, Miles Killebrew, Dwayne Washington and Anthony Zettel -- have found at least rotational roles on the offense or defense.
It’s a good sign for the Lions moving into the future that Quinn is apparently 1-for-1 on drafts.
Best rookie: It has to be Detroit’s first-round pick, Taylor Decker. He has been the Lions’ left tackle since the moment he took a rep in Allen Park, Michigan, this spring and has played every snap at left tackle for Detroit this season. There were some issues early on, but he has become a consistent blocker who has improved every week protecting Matthew Stafford's blind side. This was a good pick that could solidify the position for the foreseeable future.
Most improved rookie: This could be Decker as well, but for the sake of diversification, let’s look at safety Miles Killebrew. He wasn’t getting on the field at the start of the season as Detroit’s No. 4 or No. 5 safety. Now? He has carved out a role as the Lions’ third-down defensive specialist and has garnered more work by the week. He’s setting himself up to be in the conversation to win the starting strong safety job in 2017 depending on what Detroit does with Tavon Wilson and Rafael Bush.
Most disappointing rookie: It’s tough to say there is one in this class. The top picks have started or had roles. The mid-round players are improving. If there had to be one, I’d say long-snapper Jimmy Landes. That’s mostly because he has been on injured reserve and couldn’t beat out veteran Don Muhlbach. That aside, it has been a good class so far.
The jury is still out on ... Dwayne Washington: The seventh-round pick has been a mild surprise considering he wasn’t a lock to even make the roster. He has settled into the No. 2 running back role with Ameer Abdullah out and has 69 carries for 212 yards and a touchdown. Whether he becomes a productive NFL back will rest on his ability to stay healthy -- he has had two ankle injuries this season -- and improving his vision. Too often, his reads on runs aren’t the best, and it has cost Detroit yards. That is something running backs coach David Walker has experience coaching, though, so it’s an area in which Washington could make marked progress from 2016 to 2017.
Undrafted rookie check-in: Adairius Barnes has primarily been a special-teams player when active but is taking on an expanded role with Quandre Diggs out for the season with a pectoral injury. Tight end Cole Wick, who made the 53-man roster out of training camp, and cornerback Ian Wells are on injured reserve, while receiver Jace Billingsley, defensive back Charles Washington and linebacker Steve Longa are all on the practice squad.