With the bulk of the free agent signings in the books, along with the NFL Draft being completed, it’s time to shift our focus to OTAs for the Detroit Lions. Those practices begin on Tuesday and there are some intriguing things that Lions fan should be paying attention to moving forward.
Here are 5 things to keep an eye on during Lions OTAs.
1. Health of Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick
Heading into the 2016 regular season, there was reason to be excited about the Lions multi-dimensional backfield which featured Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. Abdullah was coming off a rookie season in which he showed flashed of brilliance while Riddick was coming off an 80-catch campaign.
Unfortunately, the duo was split up quickly when Abdullah was hurt in the second game and missed the remainder of the season. Riddick was solid when he was healthy, but he too suffered an injury which kept him out for the final quarter of the season.
It is crucial to the Lions offense that both Abdullah and Riddick are 100% by the start of the 2017 regular season. GM Bob Quinn has shown confidence in the two by not signing nor drafting a running back to compete with them. Hopefully, he made the right call.
2. Jake Rudock vs. Brad Kaaya
Full disclosure: I may be making something out of nothing with this one.
That being said, Brad Kaaya is a quarterback who I really liked going into the NFL Draft and I was happy when the Lions drafted him. Jake Rudock, on the other hand, is a quarterback who in my opinion, should have never been drafted and I was a bit bummed when Quinn selected him in 2016.
But…Quinn has shown confidence in Rudock’s ability to grow into a reliable backup quarterback and it is likely his position to lose at this point. Don’t be surprised if this position battle is a bigger topic heading into the 2018 season.
3. Tomlinson’s last chance
When the Lions drafted Laken Tomlinson in the 1st Round of the 2015 NFL Draft, they were hoping they were getting a player who would be a dominant OG for the next 10+ seasons. Well, as we know, Tomlinson is much closer to becoming a “bust” than he is “dominant.”
It is highly likely that Tomlinson begins the 2017 season as a backup guard, but the Lions will give him every opportunity to compete with Graham Glasgow for starting left guard.
4. How special is Kenny Golladay?
When Bob Quinn selected WR Kenny Golladay in the 3rd Round of the NFL Draft, many Lions fans scratched their head. The head scratching was not necessarily because the Lions selected a wide receiver, but because Golladay was a name that not many fans had heard of.
Well, since the draft, Golladay’s stock has continued to rise and as I have had the chance to watch more and more tape on him, including one on his freakish athletic ability, he is really starting to intrigue me.
In order to earn No. 3 receiver status on the Lions offense, Golladay will have to outplay TJ Jones and Jace Billingsly in the offseason/preseason. That competition begins now.
5. Teez Tabor’s first chance to quiet the haters
There was no question about it. Heading into the 2017 NFL Draft, the Lions had to focus on improving their horrendous defense from a season ago. One position the Lions needed to improve on the defensive side of the ball was cornerback.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not hate CB Nevin Lawson, but in my opinion, he is a more of a nickel guy than a starter on the outside. But when the Lions drafted Teez Tabor, one of the slowest cornerbacks in the draft, in the 2nd Round, I almost lost it.
After being a sure 1st Round pick back in January, Tabor, mostly because of his lack of speed, started to free fall in mock drafts. In my opinion, if the Lions really wanted Tabor, they could have traded back, received an extra pick or two, and still got their guy in the 3rd Round.
Tabor has made it clear that he is a football player and not an Olympic sprinter, but speed does matter in the NFL, it matters a lot. Don’t be surprised at all if Tabor ends up playing in the slot and Lawson remains on the outside, but he will be given his chance.