Grading the Detroit Lions 2018 draft class way too soon

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 18: Nick Bawden
SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 18: Nick Bawden /
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Da’Shawn Hand B-

The Lions had a problem on the inside of their defensive line going into the draft. It was not the problem that most analysts seemed to think. The Lions did not need a gap shooting three-technique like Maurice Hurst or Taven Bryan. They needed players capable of playing a two-gap run defense in addition to providing disciplined pressure on the edge while sustaining contain. Da’Shawn Hand is exactly that. Unlike A’Shawn Robinson, who was drafted from Alabama and asked for two seasons to completely change his style of play, Hand is being brought in to do exactly what he was asked to do at the collegiate level.

I am very fond of this pick, but the context in which it is made only lets me like it so much. The Lions gave up a third-round pick next year to acquire a fourth-round pick this season. There are reasons for a team to do that, and I actually support the decision in this case. With that said I have to weigh this as I would if the Lions had chosen Hand in the third round of the draft. There will be players available in the third round of 2019 that will make the Lions wish that they had that pick.

He is a powerful man with a violence to his game that is pleasant to watch for aficionados of line play. He uses his length effectively as part of his pass rush but has not learned to utilize his speed. When he gets a clear path to the ball, however, he resembles a guided missile. The key to his transition in the NFL will be learning how to better create that clear path to the ball. As it stands, when power fails he has no fallback plan, and it will fail often if it is his only option. Predictable players are not successful players in the NFL. Hopefully reuniting with his former defensive line coach, Bo Davis, will allow Hand to develop a second plan of attack.