Lions GM Bob Quinn takes calculated risk drafting Florida's Teez Tabor
Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn talked a lot about risk this week. And about when and where to take one.
He played his first hand safe Thursday night. Then he gambled a bit more Friday.
If you think about it, his selection of a couple of Florida defensive players with the team’s first two draft picks says a lot about his temperament. Says a lot about his plan, too.
With linebacker Jarrad Davis, Quinn nabbed a potential leader of his defense. A signal caller with speed and athleticism, yes, but also with personality and leadership qualities. He came highly recommended, and offered a resume with nary a misstep.
With cornerback, Teez Tabor, Quinn took a bit of a leap. The second-round pick jumped off the film for his playmaking and ball-hawking ability. He might’ve been a first-round selection if not for a worrisome 40-yard dash time at the NFL scouting combine in early March.
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But his speed wasn’t the only issue. Tabor tested positive for marijuana and refused a second drug test. He also got suspended in Florida’s season opener last September after punching a teammate.
Quinn told reporters late Friday night that Tabor showed contrition and took responsibility when he met with the Lions’ management and coaching staff. He owned his mistakes.
Which was enough for Quinn, he said.
And probably should be. Smoking weed isn’t the red flag it used to be. Fights happen in locker rooms.
As Quinn said Thursday night when asked about how he manages the risk of players with issues in their past, “no player is perfect.”
So it comes down to what the issues are and what position that player plays. For example, teams would be more likely to forgive weed and a temper in a receiver than they would a quarterback. Just as the Quinn was more willing to gamble on a cornerback (Tabor) than he was a middle linebacker (Reuben Foster).
Some spots on the field are too integral to the whole for a player to carry the burden of off-the-field issues. And some spots aren’t.
Quinn talked about the ratio and percentages involved in this equation this week. With his first two picks, he’s filling in the numbers.
He made similar calculations in the third round Friday, when he swapped the Lions’ pick at 86 for New England’s slot at 96. Quinn got an extra fourth-round pick as compensation. Then used the No. 96 pick to nab Northern Illinois receiver Kenny Golladay.
The big (6 feet 4), rangy, sure-handed receiver should help in the red zone and compete for the No. 3 receiver this summer. Tabor, meanwhile, should at least provide depth.
Remember, late last season the Lions were mining their practice squad for cornerbacks. They were so thin – and injured – they had trouble fielding serviceable players on the edge of the field.
Which helps explain why they took Tabor, a cornerback with first-round ball skill and sixth-round speed.
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Actually, he’s slower than that. Tabor, a junior, ran a 4.7-second 40-yard-dash at his school’s pro day last month. This after running a 4.6 at the NFL combine.
Those sorts of numbers scare general managers. And they should.
In a vacuum.
But football isn’t played with a stopwatch. It’s played with instinct and aggression and preparation.
“The 40 time at the pro day is what it is,” conceded Quinn. “Me personally, I watched more film on him than any prospect that I can ever remember. I didn’t see him get run by.”
What he saw was a guy collect nine interceptions, his 14 pass breakups as a sophomore, his ability to blitz from the edge and break up screens.
Tabor dared scouts and general managers to watch his tape, to watch what he does.
“I’m not a track guy,” he said after the combine. “I’m catching picks and jamming people at the line. So I’m a good football player. Now, you line me up, I might not beat you in the race, but reading routes and all that stuff, it’s no question.”
No doubt, the Lions could use that dynamic quality in their secondary, could use a player who is irritated his stock dropped, could use more players with swagger, which Tabor clearly has.
Quinn figured this swagger was worth a slight risk.
Late Friday night, Tabor didn’t back down from his assertion at the combine that he was the best player in the draft.
“That’s the type of confidence you have to have to play cornerback,” he said.
In that way, he’s similar to his college teammate, Davis, who told reporters Friday afternoon that he couldn’t imagine his life without hitting. That he lives to inflict pain on the football field.
The Lions defense hasn’t had enough of this kind of bravado defensively since Ndamukong Suh left for Miami.
And yet …
This team managed two field goals in its playoff loss to Seattle in January.
Getting Golladay could help, especially if he bulks up and improves his sideline awareness. Now, the Lions need more help on that side. A running back would be nice.
Two days into Quinn’s second draft, we are starting to see a pattern. He likes players who like football. And guys who understand how to play it.
He likes players who he won’t have to worry about, though he’s willing to accept some issues with some players in certain parts of the field.
Last year, he focused on redoubling the line of scrimmage. This year, he began with the back seven then moved onto the receiver.
Quinn has been methodical. And for a franchise that has often looked lost, methodical has to look pretty good right about now.
Contact Shawn Windsor: 313-222-6487 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @shawnwindsor.