Lions draft tackle Tyrell Crosby in fifth round

Played left tackle at Oregon

ALLEN PARK — The Lions added another piece to the offensive line puzzle by drafting tackle Tyrell Crosby (Oregon) in the fifth round with the 153rd overall pick.

Crosby, who is 6-5 and 309 pounds, played all games at left tackle as a senior but could move to right tackle in the NFL.

Crosby did not allow a sack in 2017 after missing most of the previous season with a broken foot. NFLDraftScout.com had him as the sixth-best tackle and 58th best prospect.

“As an O-lineman, you never want your running back, quarterback or just anybody with the ball or teammate in general to get hit by anyone,” Crosby said in a conference call on Saturday. “To know that I kept our quarterback safe throughout the entire year is a tremendous achievement in my opinion. Getting named top PAC-12 lineman of the year voted by the defensive linemen, it’s humbling knowing that your peers think that highly of you.”

In 2017, he allowed only three QB hurries, according to Pro Football Focus — tied for the lowest pressure rate allowed by any offensive tackle at the Senior Bowl.

Pro Football Weekly had him rated as the 35th best prospect in the draft. He was all Pac-12 as a senior.

Most experts expected him to go higher than the fifth round.

“I didn’t expect (to wait), but honestly, at the end of the day I’m now a professional football player. So, things happen in life and you really just, at the end of the day you realize how grateful you are, especially looking back at how small of a percentage of college players make it to where I made it today,” Crosby said. “Things happen and I might have gone later than I expected. At the end of the day I’m excited to be a Lion.”

He tweeted that he celebrated by going to Chipotle. He’s not getting down on himself on falling to the fifth round.

“It’s frustrating just because my personal opinion, I think I’m the best, well, one of the best offensive tackles from the 2018 draft. But, though it kind of sucks, at the same time it’s just an awesome feeling to know that I’m a part of such a great organization with great history,” Crosby said. “Wherever I went, I ended up in Detroit and I’m so thankful for it.”

(Photo courtesy of Oregon)

Lance Zierlein’s prospect overview on NFL.com: “Evaluators may stick with Crosby at right tackle in the pros, but his issues with hip tightness and gaining enough ground to the edge in pass protection may force a move inside to guard sooner rather than later. Crosby has technical issues to smooth out, but he will appeal to teams who covet size, length and strength as he puts big checkmarks in those boxes. Crosby is a bulldozer who can generate good movement in the run game, but he lacks the body control for desired consistency at tackle or guard. He has NFL starting talent but he may have a limited ceiling.”

Zierlein projected him as a second- or third-round pick.

He’s from Henderson, Nev., the same hometown as Lions safety Miles Killebrew but they went to different high schools.

“Tremendous amount of respect for him and what he’s done, especially going to high school a 10-minute drive from him,” Crosby said. “When he got drafted, him coming from a small school like SUU (Southern Utah), honestly it was awesome for me to see just because he’s a public school kid from this area.”

Inside offensive lineman Frank Ragnow was the Lions’ first-round pick. Other draft picks so far: Running back Kerryon Johnson in second round, S Tracy Walker in third round and DE Da’Shawn Hand in fourth round.

 

 

 

 

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Lions trade for pick, draft DE Da’Shawn Hand in fourth round

The Lions traded the New England Patriots their 2019 third-round pick for a fourth-round pick in Saturday’s final round of the NFL draft.

They used it to address the defensive line needs by selecting Alabama defensive end Da’Shawn Hand with the 114th overall pick.

He’s got two connections with the Lions. He played with defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson at Alabama and Bo Davis, the Lions’ new defensive line coach, was Hand’s line coach at Alabama in his first two seasons.

“He helped develop me to the player that I am. I’m just excited to be reunited with those guys,” Hand said on a conference call on Saturday.

He sounds excited about heading to Detroit. “You know, with Coach Bo (Davis) there, I know they’ve got a kind of similar scheme like Alabama did. It’s just a whole bunch of dogs, so I’m just ready to be a part of that unit,” Hand said.

Hand said getting the phone call was like the best feeling in the world.

“You just work for so long to get to a goal. I mean, it was a childhood dream. And now it’s a dream come true. Now, I’m just ready to work hard and fulfill what I’ve got to do,” Hand said.

NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein’s prospect overview on Hand: “In 2014, he was considered the top-rated recruit in the nation but failed to find the production and accolades that were expected of him. While he possesses NFL size and ability, he hasn’t always played with the fire or urgency we have come to expect from Alabama defenders. Hand is a versatile defender who could be targeted as a base end who reduces inside on passing downs. He’ll likely be drafted on Day 2 based on the traits, but he’s hardly a lock to match the production to the talent as a pro.’

Hand, who is 6-4 and 297 pounds, started nine of 11 games that he played in 2017 recording 27 tackles, 3.5 for loss with three sacks.

He was arrested for driving under the influence in July 2017, though he was actually found sleeping behind the wheel of the car while it was parked.

(Photo courtesy of Alabama)

Per NFL.com: “At Alabama, Hand played in nine games as a true freshman, making seven stops including two sacks. Hand played in every game as a reserve in Alabama’s deep defensive line rotation in their 2015 national championship season (16 stops, 6.5 for loss, three sacks), making an impact in the title game with two tackles for loss against Clemson. That depth kept him from starting again in 2016, but he was a regular contributor (21 tackles, 3.5 for loss, two sacks) using his length, strength, and athleticism to factor in plays where he didn’t collect a stat.”

The two-time first-team USA Today All-American was also a state high school wrestling champion.

Going into today’s final rounds, the Lions had only two picks — fifth round and seventh round. Quinn had traded the fourth round pick to the Patriots on Friday to move up to take running back Kerryon Johnson.

Saturday’s move was the third draft pick that GM Bob Quinn has made with the Patriots, his former team. He said on Friday night that’s it’s easier and more efficient to make trades with people he knows.

Inside offensive lineman Frank Ragnow was the Lions’ first-round pick. Other draft picks so far: Running back Kerryon Johnson in second round, S Tracy Walker in third round and tackle Tyrell Crosby in the fifth round.

 

Lions draft safety Tracy Walker in third round

Darius Slay is his cousin

ALLEN PARK — After using first two picks for offensive help, the Lions drafted safety Tracy Walker out of Louisiana-Lafayette with the 82nd overall pick in the NFL draft on Friday night.

Walker, who is 6-2 and 200 pounds, went to the same high school as Lions cornerback Darius Slay in Brunswick, Ga.  In fact, Walker confirmed that they are cousins. Lions GM Bob Quinn said he wasn’t sure about their exact familial relationship, but knew somehow the two were related.

Even though Walker was projected as a late-round pick by most pundits (Bleacher Report had him as seventh-round pick), Quinn said they were happy to get him. Quinn said teams 10-12 picks ahead of them had brought Walker in for visits.

In fact, Walker said he was surprised during a conference call with reporters late on Friday night.

“it definitely was a surprise for me. I didn’t expect it. I put out my best effort throughout the whole process and I control what I can control. I can’t control who picked me and who showed the most interest in me, when Detroit picked me it was a blessing for me,” Walker said. “I’m definitely honored that they picked me. They won’t regret it.”

Going in the third round was a pleasant surprise for Walker.

“Honestly I expected it to be the fifth round, I’m definitely blessed. I’m the type of person who’s very conservative and expects the worst. I’m blessed to be drafted in the third round,” Walker said.

Quinn also said Walker excelled when he played against the top competition. Specifically he said Walked played well against Texas A&M.

Why not a defensive lineman in the third round? Quinn said they had safeties rated higher that defensive linemen at that point in the draft so they went with Walker.

NFL.com’s draft profile for Walker: “Safety with long, slender build who has good linear speed, but could struggle as an open field tackler and when isolated in deep coverage. Walker’s long arms and explosion numbers in testing will be very intriguing to teams who covet measurables and traits from their defensive backs. His size and body type could put him in line for a test run as bump-and-run corner for teams with a rangy free safety over the top.

Walker led the Ragin’ Cajuns with tackles (97) and interceptions (2) as a senior.

(Photo courtesy of Louisiana-Lafayette)

More from NFL.com: “He has stood out since he was young, partially because he was the only boy among six siblings. As a redshirt freshman in 2014, he earned Freshman All-Sun Belt honors after starting eight-of-13 games played, making 44 tackles, intercepting two passes, and breaking up three other throws. He was a starter as a sophomore (10-of-12 games), as well, compiling 74 stops, five for loss, one interception, and six pass breakups. Walker led the Ragin’ Cajuns with three interceptions in 2016, starting 12-of-13 games played, piling up 61 tackles, 2.5 for loss. His senior season was his best, starting 12 games and leading the squad with 97 tackles (3.5 for loss) on his way to third-team All-Sun Belt honors. Walker also led the team with two interceptions and broke up six passes.”

The Lions drafted offensive lineman Frank Ragnow in the first round on Thursday. Then traded up to take running back Kerryon Johnson in the second round earlier on Friday. They have picks in the fifth and seventh rounds on Saturday.

Lions trade up to draft RB Kerryon Johnson in second round

Was SEC offensive player of the year

ALLEN PARK — The Lions addressed their need for a running back by drafting Kerryon Johnson from Auburn in the second round on Friday night.

Detroit made a deal with the Patriots to move up to 43rd to grab Johnson by giving up their fourth-round pick and the 51st overall pick in the second round.

Lions GM Bob Quinn said he knew there was going to be a run on running backs in the second round, and Johnson was the guy they wanted so he wanted to move up. It’s become quite common for him to trade with the Patriots, his former team. He said it’s just easier to make deals with people he knows.

Johnson had 285 carries for 1,391 yards (4.88 yards per carry) with 18 touchdowns last season. He also had 24 catches for 194 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Johnson ranks seventh best at Auburn with a kick return average of 25.12 yards.

Quinn said Johnson is a patient runner but accelerates when he sees the hole and knows how to finish.

“The (Lions) said be ready to go to work. It’s an extreme honor, it’s a great football team, I’m ready to go in and get to work,” Johnson said in a conference call on Friday night.

Coincidentally enough, he said one of his favorite running backs to watch is Hall of Famer Barry Sanders. “When you watch Barry Sanders, what’s not to like? He’s a fantastic running back, he’s a fantastic guy, he’s extremely exciting to watch, extremely hard to tackle,” Johnson said. “I wish I was alive at the time to get to watch him in person … Going to the same organization as him is awesome it’s like a dream come true,” Johnson said.

Johnson was the SEC’s offensive player of the year in 2017 and thinks playing in the SEC could help him take the big step from college ball to the NFL.

“The competition and the speed of the game is as close as you’re going to get to the NFL. Hopefully that helps with the learning curve and helps me succeed at the next level,” Johnson said.

Other than his pre-draft visit, Johnson said he’s never been to Detroit. He sounds excited about making the move.

(Photo courtesy of Auburn)

NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock ranked Johnson, 6-foot and 212 pounds, as the seventh best running back in the draft and projected he would be drafted in the second or third round. “He’s kind of a leggy, jump-cut guy. Good athlete, finishes runs, but I see him somewhere late two to mid-three,” Mayock said.

Johnson was Alabama’s Mr. Football in 2015 with 25 touchdowns as a senior and was also all-state in basketball.

The Lions had the NFL’s worst running game in 2017 averaging just 76.3 rushing yards per game. They drafted offensive lineman Frank Ragnow in the first round who should also help the run game.

 

Seven things to know about Frank Ragnow, Lions first-round pick

He can’t wait to get started

ALLEN PARK — Frank Ragnow couldn’t be more excited to be a Detroit Lion.

His excitement was evident at an introductory press conference late on Friday afternoon.

He started by saying, “I’m Frank Ragnow and I’m so, so excited to be here.”

The offensive lineman was bear-hugged by coach Matt Patricia as he took the podium to take questions.

“He’s amazing, you can tell he really has passion for football and I think I’m the same way. I’m just so, so excited to play for such a brilliant football mind and such a great coach,’’ Ragnow said.

Here are seven things to know about Ragnow:

1. He got a congratulatory text from Matthew Stafford on Friday morning and was so much in awe that he called him “Mr. Stafford.” The quarterback would have none of that. Stafford told him he was happy to have him on board and is excited to win some ball games with him. Stafford should be thrilled to get more protection on the offensive line. It’s unclear whether Ragnow will play at center or left guard.

2. Finishing — putting another man on his back against his will —  is his favorite part of the game. “I’ve always taken pride in — you can control, you control your work ethic. Your finishing isn’t going to be about your talent, it’s not about your athleticism, it’s about your want-to and that’s what you can control,’’ Ragnow said.

3. He played for Arkansas so faced amazing talent weekly. He remembers going against his new teammate A’Shawn Robinson who played for Alabama. “I remember he looked 40,’’ Ragnow said. Nailed it.

4. Ragnow was genuinely surprised to be drafted by the Lions who had interviewed him at the NFL Draft Combine and had not talked to him since. “That was really early in the process, you didn’t know anything. It was pretty cool just getting to interview with all the teams. Now I’m a Detroit Lion and I couldn’t be more excited,’’ said Ragnow who grew up in Minnesota as a Vikings fan.

5. He is admittedly a football junky so knew quite a bit about the Lions offensive line. He tried not to pay attention to the plethora of mock drafts. “When you’ve got Facebook and a mother who’s very proud and trying to tag you in everything and trying to show you everything sometimes you can’t avoid it,’’ Ragnow said. “I tried to stay away from it and keep a level head.’’

6. His senior season ended prematurely due to an ankle injury which required surgery. It’s fine now and he cannot wait to get on the football field. “The draft process is a long process especially toward the end here it’s a lot of waiting, a lot of wondering,’’ Ragnow said. “And when you’re training you’re training to run a 40-yard dash which I don’t plan on doing that every again.’’

7. He’s a fisherman so is thrilled to be moving to the Detroit area for obvious reasons. “There’s some great fishing and hunting around here, I’m happy to be here,” Ragnow said. His best fishing buddy was his dad Jon, who died of a heart attack in 2016. He grew up in Minnesota and his family has a fishing cabin in Canada.

 

Report: Former Lions’ president Matt Millen awaits heart transplant

He battles amyloidosis, a rare disease

Matt MIllen is suffering from amyloidosis, a rare disease, and may need a heart transplant.

The former Detroit Lions president and chief executive officer has revealed his illness in an interview with Mark Wogenrich of the Morning Call.

Amyloidosis occurs when abnormal proteins called amyloids, produced in the bone marrow, build up in organs or tissue. Though there’s no cure, amyloidosis is treatable with chemotherapy (similar to multiple myeloma) to stop cell growth, according to the report.

“Doctors have said he needs a heart transplant, since his is working at about 30 percent of capacity. He has undergone chemotherapy most every Monday for eight months, and the side effects usually linger until Wednesday,’’ according to the story.

Millen was diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic in July after living with symptoms (chest pain, shortness of breath) for six years. By then, the disease, which has no cure but is treatable, had affected Millen’s heart to the point that a transplant became necessary, per Wogenrich.

His next step is visiting Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles for a second round of transplant evaluation. next week, according to the story.

Millen was hired by the Lions 2001 and fired in week 4 of the 2008 NFL season. His eight-year tenure led to the worst eight-year record in the history of the modern NFL (31-84, a .270 winning percentage). Millen was the architect of the 2008 Lions who became the first NFL team to go 0-16.

Millen, who played at Penn State, won four Super Bowls while playing for the Oakland Raiders, the San Francisco 49ers and the Washington Redskins.

He plans to return to the broadcast booth in the fall.

 

Detroit Lions earn high grades for drafting OL Frank Ragnow

Grades range from A to B-minus

Didn’t see one mock draft with offensive lineman Frank Ragnow heading to the Lions with the 20th overall pick.

That does not mean it was a bad pick.

Lions GM Bob Quinn got his man. He said they liked Ragnow from the get-go when they watched film and interviewed him at the NFL Draft Combine.

Respected NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock had Ragnow rated as the 19th best draft prospect.

Bleacher Report’s Mike Tanier calls Ragnow “a potential steal.”

Here’s a look at grades from national analysts:

Chad Reuter, draft analyst on NFL.com — Grade: A … Detroit needed to get stronger in the middle, and did by picking Ragnow. He could play guard for now, or move to center if needed. Either way, he’ll move the line of scrimmage. Matthew Stafford feels better already.

Pete Prisco, CBS — Grade: B+ … He is the draft’s best center and can also play guard. The Lions have to get better inside, and Ragnow will make that happen.

Andy Benoit, MMQB — Grade: B … Picking Ragnow addressed the Lions’ weakness at left guard. Graham Glasgow will now move there, supplanting recently signed backup Kenny Wiggins. The Lions wouldn’t draft Ragnow if they didn’t believe he can be a force in the running game, which has been a deficiency the past several years in Detroit.

Yahoo Sports — Grade: B- … The Lions got a guy who will start for a decade and help alleviate running game issues while keeping Matthew Stafford happy. But Detroit needed a pass rusher.

Steven Ruiz, USAToday — Grade: B … The Lions continue to build up their offensive line by adding a nasty blocker who can play at multiple positions. Detroit could have gone for a running back to improve their dreadful run game, but Ragnow should make things easier for the backs already on the roster.

Walter Cherepinsky, Walter Football — Grade: A- … That sound you hear is the collective hearts of the Bengals’ front office breaking upon learning about this pick. Frank Ragnow was set to go 21st overall, but the Lions also needed a center, so they snatched the Arkansas product off the board. This is a solid pick. Ragnow is a terrific center who didn’t surrender a single sack last year playing in the SEC. He fills a huge need, which the Lions had after losing Travis Swanson in free agency.

Mike Tanier, Bleacher Report — Grade: B … The Lions offensive line ranked last in the NFL in adjusted line yards, according to Football Outsiders. Their running back play was terrible, but often there was simply nowhere for them to run. Frank Ragnow missed much of the 2017 season with an ankle injury. He could not participate in the Senior Bowl and only lifted at the combine, but he was a full participant at Arkansas’ pro day. Ragnow is a big mauler with pretty good balance and awareness. He adjusts to blitzes well, peels off to engage linebackers and finishes his blocks with hostility. Ragnow lets some defenders get low on him, negating his power, and may have trouble against quick, cagey interior defenders. But assuming his bill of health is clean, Ragnow is a likely starter and a potential steal. This is a solid pick, though with Harold Landry and others on the board (including a pair of centers who may be as good or better than Ragnow), it may not have been the Lions’ best selection.

(Photo courtesy of Arkansas)