Publish date:

Remainder of Lions' 2019 Draft Class Must Contribute in 2021

Read more on the importance of the Detroit Lions' 2019 draft class contributing this upcoming season.

The Detroit Lions will need a lot of things to go right to field a winning team, let alone a .500 squad, this upcoming season. 

Entering the 2021 campaign, there's no question that the Lions lack depth on both sides of the ball. 

New Detroit general manager Brad Holmes made a concerted effort this offseason to build up certain areas of the roster, such as along the defensive line, via the additions of veteran Michael Brockers and 2021 draft picks Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill. 

Yet, just as Rome wasn't built in a day, neither will the Lions be. 

Holmes & Co. have only entered the infancy stage of a multi-year rebuild. 

Subsequently, in order for Detroit to have any shot at winning games on a consistent basis in 2021, it must receive production from players that were brought to the Motor City by the failed Bob Quinn-Matt Patricia regime. 

This means receiving steady production from the Lions' 2019 draft class, a group of players that the organization hasn't reaped a ton of benefits from up to this point. 

For starters, of the nine-player class, only five players remain heading into training camp at the end of the month: First-rounder T.J. Hockenson, second-rounder Jahlani Tavai, third-rounder Will Harris, fourth-rounder Austin Bryant and fifth-rounder Amani Oruwariye. 

Sixth-round picks Travis Fulgham (now with the Philadelphia Eagles) and Ty Johnson (now with the N.Y. Jets), as well as seventh-round picks Isaac Nauta (now with the Green Bay Packers) and P.J. Johnson (currently a free agent) have all since left the organization.

Sure, it's a positive that the Lions still possess each of their draft picks from the first five rounds of the 2019 draft. However, it doesn't mean that each of those players has been a big-time contributor to the team. 

In fact, the only two members of the class that have been anywhere close to steady contributors are Hockenson and Oruwariye. 

Hockenson, the best player of the bunch by far, made his first career trip to the Pro Bowl a season ago, and has grown into one of the best tight ends in the league. 

Recommended Lions Articles


Lions' Week 2 Grades: Offense Slows, Defense Breaks Down in Second Half

Here are the Detroit Lions' Week 2 grades, after their 35-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football.


Snap Counts: Lions-Packers

A review of the Detroit Lions' snap counts against the Green Bay Packers.


Lions' Week 2 Studs and Duds

Read more on the Detroit Lions' Week 2 studs and duds, after their 35-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football.


Meanwhile, Oruwariye, while not as reliable of a performer at defensive back as Hockenson has been as a pass-catcher, certainly has outpaced the rest of the class. 

The rest of the still existing members of the class -- Tavai, Harris and Bryant -- have struggled to put up consistent numbers since entering the league. 

Tavai, who was considered a reach when Quinn took him at No. 43 overall, has been labeled by fans and pundits alike -- and almost unanimously -- as a draft "bust," with little-to-no success in both pass coverage and as a run defender. He might only have one shot to prove his worth to the new regime, led by Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell, before it decides to part ways with him. 

Bryant, meanwhile, has struggled to stay on the field due to the injury bug. He's only played in 10 games, logging just one start, since becoming a member of the organization. 

As for Harris, he's shown some signs of potential, especially during his rookie campaign, and he has a strong chance of starting at one of the team's two safety spots to open up the '21 season. 

It goes without saying that the Lions' haul of picks in 2019 has largely been an underwhelming group of players, minus Hockenson and to a certain extent, Oruwariye. 

With the present lackluster state of Detroit's roster, there's no better time than now for the aforementioned collection of players to turn around its fortunes. 

Join the AllLions Community

Become a premium AllLions member, which grants you access to all of our premium content and gets you a FREE subscription to Sports Illustrated! Click on the link below for more