Rest of 2019 Lions Draft set to contribute in 2021 – The Oakland Press
The Detroit Lions will need a lot to put together a winning team, let alone a .500 team, this coming season.
Stepping into the 2021 campaign, there’s no doubt the Lions lack depth on both sides of the ball.
New Detroit GM Brad Holmes has made a concerted effort this offseason to build up some areas of the roster, like along the defensive line, via the additions of veteran Michael Brockers and 2021 draft picks Levi Onwuzurike and Alim. McNeill.
Yet just as Rome was not built in a day, neither will the Lions be.
Holmes & Co. has only entered the initial phase of a multi-year reconstruction.
Going forward, in order for Detroit to have a chance at consistently winning games in 2021, it must receive production from players who were brought to Motor City by the failed Bob Quinn-Matt Patricia regime.
That means receiving consistent production from the 2019 Lions Draft Class, a group of players whose organization hasn’t reaped a ton of benefits so far.
For starters, of the nine-player class, only five players make their way to training camp at the end of the month: first round TJ Hockenson, second round Jahlani Tavai, third round Will Harris, fourth round Austin Bryant. and the fifth -the round Amani Oruwariye.
Sixth-round picks Travis Fulgham (now with the Philadelphia Eagles) and Ty Johnson (now with the New York Jets), as well as seventh-round picks Isaac Nauta (now with the Green Bay Packers) and PJ Johnson ( currently a free agent) have all since left the organization.
Of course, it’s positive that the Lions still own each of their draft picks from the first five rounds of the 2019 Draft. However, that doesn’t mean that each of those players has been a significant contributor to the team.
In fact, the only two class members who have been close to regular contributors are Hockenson and Oruwariye.
Hockenson, by far the best player in the field, made his first career trip to the Pro Bowl a season ago and has become one of the best tight ends in the league.
Meanwhile, Oruwariye, while not as reliable as a defensive performer as Hockenson was as a wide receiver, has certainly surpassed the rest of the class.
The rest of the still-existing members of the class – Tavai, Harris and Bryant – have struggled to post consistent numbers since entering the league.
Tavai, who was considered a litter when Quinn took him to No.43 overall, has been called by fans and pundits – and almost unanimously – as a ‘bust’ project, with little or no no success in passing coverage and as a run defender. He may only have one chance to prove his worth to the new regime, led by Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell, before he decides to part ways with him.
Bryant, meanwhile, struggled to stay on the pitch due to the injury bug. He has only played 10 games, recording only one start, since joining the organization.
As for Harris, he has shown signs of potential, especially in his rookie campaign, and he has a strong chance of starting at one of the squad’s two safety points to open Season 21.
It goes without saying that the Lions’ pick number in 2019 has largely been a disappointing group of players, minus Hockenson and, to some extent, Oruwariye.
With the current lackluster state of the Detroit roster, there’s no better time than now for the aforementioned collection of players to come back to life.
This article was produced by the staff of Sports Illustrated / All Lions. To learn more, visit si.com/nfl/lions