Lions: Four Impact Rookies to Watch in 2017
The Lions had a very strong draft, addressing needs on both sides of the ball. However, they primarily addressed a very lackluster linebacker corps with picks like Jarrad Davis and Jalen Reeves-Maybin. Expect those two to contribute early and often for the Lions.
However, stating that Jarrad Davis will make a huge impact goes without saying because he’s a linebacker and a first round pick.
First off, consider Jamal Agnew, a cornerback out of San Diego. At 5’10″, he will likely be a slot corner for Detroit, and a fast one at that. Agnew, however, will have veteran competition in D.J. Hayden and Quandre Diggs. Diggs was a good slot corner when called upon, but not great. D.J. Hayden is on a one-year, “prove-it” type of deal, so that says enough as it is.
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Michael Roberts is a behemoth. At 6’4″, Roberts is a red zone target and a man who can block, something Detroit has missed sorely from their tight ends for a very long time. In fact, the most serviceable players they’ve had play that role are Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria. Enter Darren Fells and Michael Roberts. Fells is one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL in recent memory, and Roberts can come in and be just as good, if not better.
Many experts widely consider Kenny G a stretch pick in the third round. That’s where they are wrong. Golladay is a 6’4″ wide receiver and can fill some of the production hole left by Anquan Boldin’s departure. Golladay didn’t drop many passes at Northern Illinois, but he also didn’t have a gunslinger at quarterback. With the Lions, he will have just that in Matthew Stafford, and he may struggle to adjust to that for a few weeks. Then Kenny G will be a solid producer either in the slot, or push Golden Tate to the slot where he may be more successful. Golladay will have to compete with the likes of T.J. Jones, Jace Billingsley, Jared Abbrederis, and Keshawn Martin for that third receiver role.
Reeves-Maybin is an interesting rookie, since Detroit plays with just two linebackers on the field most of the time. With first-round pick Jarrad Davis and veteran Tahir Whitehead expected to lead that linebacking corps, it leaves question marks as to who plays the third linebacker when necessary. In comes Jalen Reeves-Maybin, who’s a bit undersized yet a good tackler. Drafting him in the fourth round, Detroit got a steal if Reeves-Maybin can stay healthy, as that was his biggest concern entering the draft. Reeves-Maybin will compete with Antwione Williams, and maybe even Paul Worrilow or Brandon Copeland for that third linebacker spot on the depth chart.
Obviously, Jarrad Davis and Teez Tabor may have big impacts as rookies. But since they’re Detroit’s top two picks, it’s not really fair to include them in a list of just four players.