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TWENTYMAN: 5 takeaways from 2017 NFL Draft
April 30, 2017 02:00 PM | Tim Twentyman
The 2017 NFL Draft is in the books, and the Detroit Lions are hoping the nine players they drafted over the last three days will have as much impact as last year's class did.

The Lions addressed a number of needs over the course of this draft, and received a diverse haul of players.

Here are my five takeaways from this year's draft:

1. Lions are happy with where they are at running back

Lions general manager Bob Quinn said he looked at some running back prospects in the middle of this draft, but he felt none of them would be an upgrade over the five backs currently on the roster.

"I feel pretty good about the position," Quinn said after the draft about where he currently stands at running back.

Quinn said Ameer Abdullah is the starting running back on this roster.

"It's a tough balance, but I think Ameer's (Abdullah) injury last year was sort of a fluke thing and he's back 100 percent," Quinn said. "Theo's (Riddick) dealing with a few things, but we think he's going to be ready to go, too.

"You can't carry 10 running backs. That's just the nature of what the NFL league rules are. You've got 90 guys on the roster and you've got to split them up as best as you see fit. We feel good about Zach (Zenner). We feel good about Dwayne (Washington), feel good about Mike James, so that's just the way we went."

Based off Quinn's actions the last two offseasons, the problems in the run game -- where the Lions have ranked near the bottom of the league -- were more an issue about the blocking and the play upfront. He's completely revamped the offensive line over the last two years in hopes of a more consistent run game moving forward.

2. Linebacker was obviously a big need coming in

It has been well documented by others and myself what little impact Detroit received from that position last year. So, Quinn went out and recruited help in the form of first-round pick Jarrad Davis and fourth-round selection Jalen Reeves-Maybin.

The common thread between Davis and Reeves-Maybin is that they're fast, instinctive and really good tacklers. Upgrading the speed at the linebacker position was something Quinn did in this draft.

Could he have found his starting MIKE (Davis) and WILL (Reeves-Maybin) for the 2017 season in this draft? We will see.

3. Competition at cornerback is going to be fierce

Quinn and head coach Jim Caldwell have often talked about building a culture of extreme competition at every position, and how it will make everyone involved a much better player.

Following this draft, it will be fun to watch how the cornerback position plays out in OTAs, minicamp and then training camp, after Quinn added Teez Tabor (second round) and Jamal Agnew (fifth round) in to the mix with Darius Slay, Nevin Lawson, DJ Hayden, Quandre Diggs and Johnson Bademosi.

Tabor will try to push Lawson and Hayden for playing time on the outside, while the speedster Agnew will attempt to unseat Diggs in the slot.

It should be a fun competition to watch all the way through cut-down day.

4. The backup quarterback competition is on again this year

Last year, it was veteran Dan Orlovsky battling rookie Jake Rudock in camp, a competition Orlovsky ultimately won.

The Lions didn't re-sign Orlovsky this offseason to give Rudock an opportunity to be Matthew Stafford's backup, but Rudock is going to have to earn it after the Lions picked up former Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya in the sixth round.

"Really good value," Quinn said of the Kaaya selection. "He was a guy that was like sticking out on the board for most of the day and he kept falling and falling. At one point in time you've just got to trust your judgment and just follow the board.

"Good arm strength, pocket passer, played in an NFL system, so that's definitely part of the evaluation. So there's less projection when he's actually been under center, he's run some play-action. It seems that when those guys are in shotgun at the college level it just takes them time to kind of transition. Thought it was a good value pick and he's going to come in and compete with Jake (Rudock) and see how it goes."

5. Defense. Defense. Defense.

Six of Detroit's nine picks were on the defensive side of the ball. The only three that weren't: Receiver Kenny Golladay, tight end Michael Roberts and Kaaya.

Quinn said the plan coming into any draft is to get equal help on both offense and defense. Coming away with a six-to-three split this year was just how the board fell. But it really isn't a big surprise that Detroit walked away from this draft a little heavier on defense.

Coming in, there could have been a case that every position on that side of the ball could have used some bolstering.

The Lions didn't rank better than 18th in total defense (354.8), passing defense (248.4) and run defense (106.3). They were 13th in points allowed (22.4).

Opposing quarterbacks completed an amazing 72.7 percent of their passes for a whopping 106.5 passer rating. Both numbers ranked last in the NFL.

Detroit needed more playmakers on that side of the football, so it's no surprise that three of their first four selections in this draft addressed that side of the ball.

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