Why did Quinn choose to address run game via draft?

The NFL draft has concluded, and the Detroit Lions are now busy lining up some undrafted free-agent signings.

General manager Bob Quinn spoke to the media Saturday night at the conclusion of the draft. Here are the key questions to come out of that session:

How much of a priority was improving the run game with some of the moves Detroit made in this draft?

The team added an interior offensive lineman (Frank Ragnow) in the first round, a running back (Kerryon Johnson) in round two, and a fullback (Nick Bawden) with the team’s final pick in the seventh round.

“I’ve been talking about that since January,” Quinn said of improving that portion of the offense. “We’ve added some offensive linemen. We’ve added a running back in free agency. We’ve added a running back in the draft. I think on paper, should our run game be better? Yes, probably.

“Now it’s up to the players and coaches and all of us to make sure we go out to the spring portion of our practices to implement the new guys in the system, get to training camp and we’ll have a very physical training camp and we’ll see how everything comes together.”

What bothered Quinn most about the running game last year?

The Lions were last in yards per game (76.3) and yards per carry (3.4), but it was the inability to pick up short-yardage situations that Quinn said bothered him the most.

He certainly thought an element of toughness was lacking in the run game last year.

“I think when I look back on our team last year, all those critical situations, like goal line … like we can’t run a ball like half a yard, that bothered me,” he said.

“I took it upon myself to implement some changes in terms of what we want to do and what we want to look like as a team.”

He’s hopeful the additions he’s made in free agency, the draft and any more coming down the line before the Lions play their first game in September will rectify some of the short-yardage problems the team had a year ago. 

Why did Quinn emphasize fixing the run game vs. adding more pass rushers in the draft?

It really came down to the draft board, according to Quinn.

“I think it’s supply and demand,” he said. “You look at the board, I’d say quite honestly there was much, much  more depth along the offensive line and at running back than there was at pass rush.

“The pass rushers came off pretty early and then there was a huge drop off. Supply and demand every year.”

Why did Quinn want to add a fullback to the roster?

The team released Michael Burton, a former fifth-round pick at fullback, just 11 months ago. They drafted Bawden out of Dan Diego State in the seventh round Saturday.

“Just some of the conversations we had in the offseason since Matt’s gotten here with some of the new staff members, it’s just something we wanted to add to the mix to give our offense a little bit more physical presence,” he said.

Speaking of toughness, was adding that element to the roster a big emphasis of his in free agency and draft?

Quinn said it very much was.

“Something we looked at long and hard about guys finishing plays”, he said. “You go through the highlights on Ragnow, and you can watch (Tyrell) Crosby play against good competition out west, and you see how Kerryon (Johnson) carries the ball and finishes his runs.

“That was something we talked about in February when Matt and his staff came in about what we thought could make the team better … we want a big, strong, tough, physical team in the trenches.”

Where does fourth-round pick Da’Shawn Hand look to slot in along Detroit’s defensive front?

“I think once you guys see us line up in OTAs, you’re going to see that you’re really going to have to play close attention to where guys line up,” Quinn said.

“We’re not going to have a base 3-4 or base 4-3, so he’s a defensive lineman that can play anywhere from I’d say the seven technique all the way down to nose depending on the different fronts we’re going to use.”

Stay tuned with this one.

What could some of the differences look like upfront along Detroit’s defensive front in terms of technique?

Quinn gave us a nice preview of what the differences might look like in terms of what the Lions will be asking from their defensive lineman vs. what they were asked to do last year under Teryl Austin’s more attacking scheme.

Austin’s scheme was very much a one-gap attacking scheme that put the emphasis on getting up the field. Expect things to be a little different under Matt Patricia and co.

“We are much more, I’d say, conscious of technique, holding our gaps and playing sound fundamentally rather than just getting up the field,” Quinn said.

That might lend itself to acquiring players that are strong, technically sound and might not have some of the eye-popping stats, especially sack stats, that people might expect.

Quinn said the Lions aren’t totally a two-gap team right now, they are a mix depending on what front they’re in, but last year they were primarily a one-gap up the field.

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