Detroit Lions: Injuries Shaped Team’s 2015 NFL Draft


Even at full strength, the Detroit Lions were not a perfect team in 2014. However, the Lions didn’t catch many breaks when it came to injuries, spending most of the season dealing with the loss of their nickel cornerbacks, middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch and a carousel of injuries along the offensive line.

Cornerback and the offensive line were widely noted as top needs in the 2015 NFL Draft, but some of the picks weren’t just about the talent on the roster versus the talent available in the draft.

It’s only talent that is available on game day that is of any use, and the Lions took steps to make sure injuries problems won’t leave them short again in 2015.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew gave one example in his post-draft press conference (all quotes provided by the Detroit Lions):

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"Well, obviously, we had the injuries at nickel last year. I can tell you for a fact that when we’re sitting there in the sixth round and we have an opportunity to draft a corner who we really liked, I felt like it’s better to have too many than not have enough. So, Quandre (Diggs) was a great pickup for us, outstanding player, great kid, great guy, hard worker. He had an outstanding Senior Bowl I thought, so he’s a really good fit for us, playing nickel for us."

Quandre Diggs won’t be handed a spot on the roster, but Bill Bentley and Nevin Lawson will have to show an ability to stay healthy to be counted on in during the 2015 season. The selection of Diggs came about, in part, because of injuries in the past, and now it’s likely that only two of the three will survive final cuts.

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Detroit Lions place DT Alim McNeill on IR amid flurry of roster moves
Detroit Lions place DT Alim McNeill on IR amid flurry of roster moves /

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  • But it wasn’t just the injury problems on the current roster that played a role in who the Lions selected – they also placed a premium on players with a history of durability during their college careers. Mayhew had the following to say, answering a question specifically about the durability of offensive line draft picks Laken Tomlinson and Corey Robinson playing a role:

    "Yeah, it always does. It always does from my perspective, especially on the offensive line. You want guys who are available, who are able to play and who can fight through minor injuries and find a way onto the football field. Those guys are there with that kind of guy."

    The Lions are trying to do a mini-rebuild of their offensive line on the fly. Travis Swanson will take over for Dominic Raiola at center, Laken Tomlinson can be penciled in for Rob Sims at left guard and the starting right tackle job will be a position battle to watch in training camp. With new pieces in new places on the line, it is important for the final five chosen as starters stay healthy to build some chemistry as a unit.

    Next: Lions Discuss Selection of Gabe Wright

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