Lions emphasize defense in draft

Jalen Reeves-Maybin competes during the NFL Pro Day on Friday, March 31, 2017, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)


AP Sports Writer

DETROIT — Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn insisted he didn’t see more needs on defense than offense a week before the NFL draft.

When it was time to make picks, Quinn’s actions were much different than his words.

Detroit drafted its first of two linebackers in the opening round, the first of two cornerbacks in the second round and took a pair of defensive ends Saturday.

The Lions used six of their nine picks on defensive players, and many of them could play key roles on the team this year.

Detroit needs help at linebacker, especially with the release of DeAndre Levy, and it selected Florida’s Jarrad Davis with the No. 21 pick overall and Tennessee’s Jalen Reeves-Maybin in the fourth round.

The team also appears to have a void at cornerback, opposite Darius Slay, that may be filled with second-round cornerback Jalen Tabor, a former Gator standout. Jamal Agnew of San Diego, a fifth-round selection, can add depth.

Likewise, the Lions are looking for a defensive end to play on the other side of Ezekiel Ansah and they took a couple late-round flyers: Arkansas’ Jeremiah Ledbetter in the sixth round and Eastern Michigan’s Pat O’Connor in the seventh.

Here are some other observations:

Other side of the ball

The Lions didn’t ignore their offense, taking Northern Illinois receiver Kenny Golladay in the third round, Toledo tight end Michael Roberts in the fourth and Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya in the sixth. The addition of Roberts could lead to more two tight end sets, putting him on the field with Eric Ebron.

Players with perspective

Reeves-Maybin, a cousin of former Detroit Tigers outfielder Cameron Maybin, has watched his father, former Louisville basketball player Maques Maybin, struggle through life after being paralyzed in a 2001 motorcycle accident.

“I just know that I can’t take anything for granted,” he said.

Roberts’ brother, Cameron, was fatally shot in 2012 when he was 10 in an accidental shooting.

“There’s nothing that can prepare you for such events,” he said. “I use that negative energy and that hurt that I had and just kind of directed it in a positive light to not only graduate college, but to also finish high school.”