Edson: Thumbs Up for Lions; Thumbs Down for Tigers

On the same weekend – the final one in April – that the Detroit Lions took a step forward in the NFL draft, the Detroit Tigers took a step back.

The Lions and general manager Bob Quinn took a safe but successful path to getting better. They drafted players with both ability and character, not an easy thing to do these days.

Nothing set the tone for that better than the first round and, although tempted, Quinn stuck to his guns. The Lions were focused on Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis, a gem of a player and a person.

Then Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, who was a top five pick only two months ago, began a free fall through the first round. Foster was easily the most talented linebacker in the draft. But two pre-draft run-ins and lingering questions about his health caused him to slide.

The Lions could have tossed the dice. They wisely chose not to.

They took Davis and Foster slid to No. 29 before the San Francisco 49ers grabbed him.

In looking back on their selections, the Lions clearly drafted for need. The No. 1 need was linebacker and in addition to Davis they picked Tennessee’s Jalen Reeves-Maybin in the fourth round. Both linebackers played in the SEC, where speed dominates.

Quinn also found two solid defensive backs in second-round pick Jalen Tabor from Florida and Jamal Agnew of San Diego.

While defense was a priority, Quinn did most of his hard work on offense before the draft. He signed a couple of veteran offensive linemen, so he could concentrate on drafting college receivers. Ironically, both of his receivers are from the Mid-American Conference – wide out Kenny Golladay from Northern Illinois and highly regarded Toledo tight end Michael Roberts.

The Lions also added a backup quarterback in Miami’s Brad Kaaya. Kaaya doesn’t have the strongest arm, but scouts love his ability to read defenses and play under pressure.

In short, there is a lot to like about Bob Quinn’s second draft as general manager.

Now Those Tigers…

I tend to be an optimist, but as I’ve become older I’ve become more of a realist. And here is the reality of the Tigers situation. They had to be 4-6 games over .500 going into the month of May.

Why? Because May is going to be the most brutal month of the baseball season for Detroit. The Tigers play 20 of their 30 games on the road.

That’s tough enough, but with Miggy Cabrera and J.D. Martinez on the mend, Ian Kinsler in a slump and the Tigers pitching showing signs of imploding on a nightly basis, I fear what the standings will show on June 1.

If we wake up on that date and the Tigers are still within 3-4 games of first place, I’ll consider that a victory.

As it stands right now, that seems optimistic.

If realism sets in and the Tigers are 8-10 games back on June 1, we’ll start to hear talk about trading some veteran players.

So buckle up Tigers fans. The next 30 days could set the tone for the short-term future of this franchise.

Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.