Lions fill need by drafting Florida LB Davis

Associated Press • Apr 28, 2017 at 12:55 AM

ALLEN PARK — The Lions went for defense when they drafted linebacker Jarrad Davis with the 21st overall pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night.

Davis, who played at Florida, was often described as instinctive and gritty.

He fills a huge need for the Lions who need a starting linebacker to play alongside Tahir Whitehead.

In 2016, Davis started nine games with 60 tackles with two sacks for a loss of 19 yards. He also had four pass break-ups and five quarterback hurries. He missed time due to an ankle injury.

No surprise, Davis (6-foot-1, 238) was voted as one of Florida's captains by his teammates. Quinn and coach Jim Caldwell love leadership qualities and drafted several college captains a year ago.

Davis possesses "high football intelligence, quickly locating the ball and anticipating what's coming. ... Agile enough to slip past would-be blockers" according to "Lindy's Sports Pro Football Draft magazine.

The Lions selected Davis over Reuben Foster (Alabama) who slid down the board.

The draft shook out well for the Lions who had more needs on defense than offense. Eight of the first dozen draft picks - and 10 of the top 20 - were players from the offensive side of the ball including three quarterbacks and three wide receivers. Corey Davis (Western Michigan) was the first receiver off the board to the Tennessee Titans with the fifth pick.

Linebackers on the Lions roster also include: Whitehead, Antwione Williams, Paul Worrilow, Brandon Copeland, Brandon Chubb and Steve Longa. DeAndre Levy was released in March. Josh Bynes was not re-signed.

Owner Martha Ford was in the Lions' draft room - sitting to Jim Caldwell's right - just like she was last year. Lions general manager Bob Quinn said the room is "pretty calm" during the proceedings.

"I think that's what people on the outside don't really understand. It's not like the movie 'Draft Day.' What was that movie from Cleveland that was a couple years ago? It's not like that,'' Quinn said.

Just prior to the start of the draft, Quinn told fans at a draft party at the Lions facility he and his staff prepare for every likelihood.

"This year in the top 25 to 30 players is the most unpredictable that I have seen. We went through a couple different scenarios the last couple days with about four or five of our staff members, just with their educated opinion of, 'Alright, if you're the GM of this team and you're picking here and these are the players left on the board, who are you taking?' We came up with numerous different scenarios that it's so hard to predict,'' Quinn said. "It's a good thing that we're drafting a little later than we were last year, but those five picks are five more players that we're not sure who's going to be left."

The Lions have seven picks remaining - one each in every round except in the sixth round where they have two.

Friday's draft for the second and third rounds starts at 7 p.m. Saturday's draft begins at noon.

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