Detroit Lions take Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis in 1st round of NFL Draft
ALLEN PARK — Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn was thrilled to see all the offensive players taken early in the draft, leaving the Lions with choices on defense that they really wanted.
Like Jarrad Davis.
Detroit drafted the Florida linebacker with the 21st overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night.
“When we started seeing those receivers go off the board, it was a good see,” Quinn said.
The 6-foot-1, 238-pound Davis missed about a third of last season with a sprained left ankle injury, but was still second-team all-SEC. He played nine games, making 60 tackles, with two sacks. Recovering from the injury ended up making Davis even stronger mentally.
“It was something that showed me what I had deep down inside,” he said. “You almost forget what you have in you when you’re down so long. I knew what got me to the point where I was at, so I stuck to that even through the injury. I haven’t lost a step. I’m still the same guy you’ve seen on film.”
Detroit addressed a desperate need by adding a player who can fill in for released linebacker DeAndre Levy and perhaps bolster the franchise’s weakest link.
“It’s a position we had trouble with last year,” Quinn acknowledged.
It looked like the Lions were going to be in a good position to add a defensive player they coveted when eight of the first 12 picks were used on offense. The next five picks, though, were all defensive players before Tampa Bay took Alabama tight end O.J. Howard No. 19 overall. Denver followed by selecting Utah offensive tackle Garett Bolles, leaving Detroit to draft Davis.
After missing the Senior Bowl and combine while recovering from his injury, Davis answered questions about his health at Florida’s pro day last month. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds, had a 38 1/2-inch vertical and covered 10 feet, 9 inches in the broad jump.