Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes joined assistant general manager Ray Agnew on the podium Thursday afternoon to discuss the latest roster cuts, the team’s rookie rating and expectations for the 2022 season.
It’s an informative 30-minute dive into the duo’s process, detailing the progress they think the team has made, and revealing some of their thoughts on individual players.
You should take the time to watch the entire press conference in person, but here are my top seven takeaways from the joint press conference.
1. This year’s layoffs are harder — harder
It’s obvious to anyone trying to create their own 53-man roster from this year’s Lions, but Holmes confirms what we all already know: This year’s roster is a step further than last year’s roster cuts gets tricky.
“Going back to last year, trying to get down to 85, maybe after the first few days of training camp, you might be told, ‘Yeah, got five,'” Holmes said. “You have to go down to 80 and be like, ‘Yeah, got it.’ Even — I told you last year, we went down to 53 last year, I mean Dan and I probably need to have a discussion or two. But fast forward By this year, just getting down to 85 is already — it’s hard. You get to about three, and then, like, ‘Okay, I’m not sure if I still want to fully do that. So, it’s just — it makes Things got difficult.”
Now, part of it seems a bit exaggerated. Layoffs may have been easier last year, but they weren’t that easy. And I highly doubt the team had so much trouble going from 90 players to 85 players. Nonetheless, Holmes’ general point holds true.
2. Jeff Okudah impresses employees
Holmes impressed last month after being asked which position drew him most to the camp. His answer: secondary. Holmes rightly pointed out that the position had the most questions going into training camp, but he found plenty of answers.
The biggest comes from top-three pick Jeff Okuda, who is recovering from an Achilles injury. No one really knew what was going to happen to him physically, mentally or on the football field. But the Lions gave him a chance to compete for the starting job, and he won it.
“I appreciate the way Jeff Okuda responded, he was challenged and he won the challenge,” Holmes said. “We were honest with him, he wasn’t cowardly, he wasn’t backing down or anything, he took it, he won it.”
3. The Lions wanted Tim Boyle to improve…but he didn’t
Holmes is full of questions about the backup quarterback situation — from why the Lions brought back both Tim Boyle and David Bluff to the extent of his concerns about Nate Sudfield entering the season as a backup — but His most telling is Boyle.
Boyle got his first taste of regular-season action last season, and while he went 0-3 in three starts, Holmes said he saw enough experience in those games that he believed With more experience, Boyle has a chance to develop into something worth having. Clearly, neither Boyle nor Blough have done that.
“Those original games [Boyle] Throughout his life, we saw something that encouraged us to continue working with him,” Holmes said. “And then, bring Bruff back, he has previous experience. So we have plans and we feel good about it, but they haven’t quite made the leap we expected. “
4. Brad Holmes doesn’t regret picking injured players in the draft
The Lions selected Levi Onwuzurike with their second-round pick last year, and they selected Josh Paschal in the second round last April. Both players ended up missing most of training camp due to injuries pre-existing in college.
Holmes claimed the team knew both of them before the draft and thought both players were worth the risk. In fact, he said that Onwuzurike’s contributions in his rookie season exceeded their expectations.
Obviously, they didn’t see Onwuzurike’s injury linger into this year. But when asked if he had learned anything from those experiences to fit further into the draft, Holmes said injury situations should be considered in isolation, and you can’t always know how a player will recover.
“Unfortunately, he still has to deal with it, but you don’t have that crystal ball yet,” Holmes said.
With Paschal, the Lions don’t seem to be bothered by the setback. Paschal had a hernia problem in Kentucky, and the Lions knew about it. Despite aggravating the injury again this spring and requiring surgery, Holmes has no problem adjusting his schedule.
“We’re not kidding ourselves,” Holmes said. “We’re not saying, ‘Oh, we ignored this or that,’ it’s just something we’re prepared for.”
5. Ray Agnew likes Aidan Hutchinson
Agnew didn’t have much time on the mic, but his eyes lit up when the conversation turned to Lions first-round pick Aidan Hutchinson.
“I couldn’t stop smiling,” Agnew said. “I love this kid, this kid is ruthless, hardworking, and a lot better than you can imagine in the draft process. Man, all he can do is run passers inside and out of the edge with both hands. A rusher, he’s creative. I just want to say, we got it right.”
6. The Lions are trying to lower expectations for Malcolm Rodriguez
If you thought Holmes would take this opportunity to make a winning lap for his sixth-round pick, linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez, who has gone from special team member to potential first-week starter, you’d be wrong. . While Holmes acknowledged that Rodriguez exceeded expectations, he was careful not to put too much of the blame on the rookie.
“He just got a critical diagnostic level that has been translated, but again, you just don’t know (how fast) it’s going to come,” Holmes said. “But it came, came fast, but can’t say he’s a rookie. He hasn’t played in the NFL yet, so let’s see how it turns out.”
This is exactly what other members of the Lions organization have been trying to do publicly. “Hard Knocks” made Rodriguez a star, but Detroit is trying to contain the damage to make sure a world of expectations doesn’t let the young kid down. A week ago, linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard said it wasn’t time to invest too much in preseason performances.
“He deserves[the attention]in a way, but at the same time, I just want to put it out there because I know there’s a narrative now, and it’s important for kids,” Sheppard said. “I wish we turned it down a bit and see where we are in weeks 4, 5, 6”
7. Sherlock Holmes sees late-game value at linebackers, safety
Continuing Rodriguez’s conversation, Holmes was asked if the linebacker’s early success could affect how the Lions handle the draft going forward. In short, Holmes declined, but he did reveal a bit about his views on the value of the position and how it relates to the draft.
“You can always look at past success in positions where you might have success in later rounds,” Holmes said.
He then brought up the example of Rams safety Jordan Fuller, who the Rams drafted in the sixth round in 2020. Fuller quickly developed into a full-time starter.
“There was a good idea that he was a high post player who would end up being a starter,” recalls Holmes
This belief system also applies to linebackers.
“There are positions you can look at and evaluate where you might find gold in later rounds, inside linebacker, which is a good number in the entire draft,” Holmes said.
This is obviously interesting, as many expect the Lions to select both safety and linebacker early in the draft. But despite having five picks in the top 100 going into draft week, the Lions waited until the No. 97 pick to select safety Kerby Joseph and didn’t select Rodriguez until the No. 188 pick.
Here’s a quote to keep in mind when the draft season rolls around next year.