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Lions Earn an ‘B-‘ for Their Draft According to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.

The draft grades from ‘Draft Guru’ Mel Kiper Jr. are out, and one team that got a good grade is that of the Lions, who according to Kiper got an ‘B-‘ for their collection of players over the two days.

Here’s what he had to say:

Matt Patricia’s first draft as coach of the Lions could be defined by whether they finally find a consistent running game. The O-line and running back focus were clear. Detroit moved up eight spots to No. 43 (and surrendered pick 117) to take Kerryon Johnson, who had 20 total touchdowns last season. Johnson was my ninth-ranked back, and I had higher players on my board, plus the injury concerns at Auburn give me pause. There’s no doubt that he’s talented, but is he going to be a three-down back? Can he be relied upon in pass protection? Detroit finished last in rushing yards and yards per rush last season, so it’s impossible to get worse. If Johnson can make an instant impact as a rookie — and maybe break the streak of 68 straight games without a 100-yard rusher — that deal might be worth it.

Detroit helped the running game with center Frank Ragnow in Round 1 (20), and got a potential steal at 153 in offensive tackle Tyrell Crosby, who played left tackle at Oregon and had a foot injury in 2016. And fullback Nick Bawden late in the seventh round is going to help there, too. The best true blocking fullback in this draft should make that team. Safety Tracy Walker (82) went higher than I thought he’d go, but the four-year starter impressed teams at the combine. Da’Shawn Hand (114) is a Patriots-type pick — he has all the traits in the world to be a great player, and he could play defensive tackle or defensive end. The Lions gave — who else? — the Patriots a 2019 third-round pick to trade up to get him.

The NFC North is a tough division, and a running game really matters. If Detroit found its workhorse — and players to help him — this could be a good class. But that’s no certainty.

Round/Pick Name Pos College
1/20 Frank Ragnow C ARKANSAS
2/43 Kerryon Johnson RB AUBURN
3/82 Tracy Walker S LOUISIANA
4/114 Da’Shawn Hand DE ALABAMA
5/153 Tyrell Crosby OT OREGON
7/237 Nick Bawden FB SAN DIEGO STATE

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