ALLEN PARK — In yet another move to bolster their run game, the Lions drafted fullback Nick Bawden in the seventh-round on Saturday.
The 6-3, 245-pound back out of San Diego State, had 15 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown in 2017. He had zero carries.
Bawden cleared the way last two years for Donnel Pumphrey and Rashaad Penny, who both dominated the NCAA rushing leader charts.
The Lions’ run game in 2017 was the NFL’s worst. In three days of the draft, they drafted two offensive linemen (Frank Ragnow and Tyrell Crosby), a running back (Kerryon Johnson) and now a fullback.
Bawden said he first talked with Bob Quinn at the Senior Bowl along with running back coach David Walker.
“They want to get back to running the ball and be really successful. So we’re just going to do whatever we can to get it done,” Bawden said. “I’m so glad they took me. My pride and joy is my run blocking. I’m going to do absolutely everything I can to get it done and everything they need me to do — whether it’s playing fullback, H-back, tight end kind of role. I’m going to do everything they need me to do.”
The Lions didn’t use a fullback last season.
(Photo courtesy of San Diego State)
Bawden started at San Diego State in 2014 as the backup quarterback, stepping in to start two games for the injured starter. He was moved to fullback prior to the 2015 season.
“It was definitely something I wasn’t open to at first. I had no idea that I had it in me to be able to play fullback. I knew how hard the position was, I knew how tough you had to be,” Bawden said on a conference call. “At first I didn’t really didn’t believe I could do it but I wanted to stay at San Diego, I loved our coaches, I loved everything we were going for. I was willing to give it a chance, it definitely gave me an opportunity to be where I am today talking to you as a Detroit Lion which I’m so excited about.”
He had to bulk up to make the move. He learned to cook his own meals. Since he started lifting weights in seventh grade.
“It was incredibly hard at first. I’ve loved lifting from an early age, I started lifting when I was in seventh grade I wanted to be the strongest QB in the league I really took pride in my training. It wasn’t too hard of a transition from there but I definitely had to gain some weight. I was about 220 pounds as a quarterback, i had to get heavier. I gained 10 pounds a year through my junior and senior year.
He was up to 250 for his senior year. “I started cooking all my own meals,” Bawden said with some pride. Although he’d like to take cooking lessons to improve.
NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein’s overview for Bawden: “Quarterback turned fullback who has bought into the physicality of the fullback position and has the mangled nose to prove it. Bawden has good size and is a competent pass-catcher. The market for old-school fullbacks has shrunk, but he has the ability to find a roster home as a contributing lead blocker and pass catcher on play-action.”
Other Lions’ draft picks on Saturday were DE Da’Shawn Hand in the fourth round and Crosby in the fifth round.