Wed, 12 May 2021

Tim Twentyman

Brad Holmes completed his first NFL Draft as general manager of the Detroit Lions this weekend with seven draft picks and a number of undrafted free agents yet to be announced.

It was a good three days for Holmes and the Lions, bolstering both of their offensive and defensive lines early in the draft, and addressing other needs on Days 2 and 3.

Following the conclusion of the seventh and final round Saturday, Holmes held a post-draft press conference. Here are the key questions from that session:

How does Holmes define a good draft class in the long run?

It's easy to look at the accolades this rookie class could garner over the years with All-Pro selections and Pro Bowls as a true barometer, but Holmes defines a good class in playtime percentage. Games played and games started is most important for him. How much this class contributes on the field is important to him.

How many undrafted free agents do the Lions plan to sign?

Detroit currently has 18 open roster spots. Holmes was asked how he plans to fill those spots. Will they all be filled by undrafted free agents?

"That's a work in progress," he said. "We're going to keep that fluid. It does not have to be all done tonight. That's something that I've learned over the years. You don't have to hurry up and slide into home plate and just kind of fill up everything. We'll just kind of make sure we're providing it with quality and not just trying to rush the process."

The Lions picked up Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow's fifth-year option before the draft. Is signing him to a long-term deal next?

Ragnow is one of the first players who reached out to Holmes after he got the GM job. Holmes said it's "extremely important" to get Ragnow signed long-term at some point. Holmes views Ragnow as a foundational player.

"Frank is a guy who plays the game the right way," Holmes said. "He's everything that we look for in what we want as a line."

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What's the most important thing Holmes accomplished over the course of the draft?

"We just achieved the goal of we stuck to what we said we were going to do and that's just get good football players and get the best football players that fit what we're looking for," he said. "I believe that's what we set out to do and we did."

What Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell are preaching about what kind of football team they want to build was represented in the players they acquired over the last three days.

How do the players Holmes drafted fit with where the NFL is going?

"All these players we felt do fit the new-age modern era of where the game is going," Holmes said.

Holmes gave that response to a question specifically about fourth-round pick Derrick Barnes, but he really expanded his answer to include a number of different players selected over the last three days.

Holmes said Barnes is fast, explosive, can run, has long arms and can shed blocks. He plays with a tenacity that Detroit's front office and coaching staff loves. He has a background as a pass rusher, but also played the MIKE, so he has versatility to do a lot of different things. Holmes said that's needed in today's game.

Holmes said the same thing about third-round pick Alim McNeill, the defensive tackle out of NC State. McNeill is not just your traditional space-blocking nose tackle. Yes, he can do that, but he's athletic and has quickness and can change direction. He does fit the mold that teams need in today's game.

The same goes for third-round pick cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu out of Syracuse. He might look like just a press corner, but Holmes said he can play in space and has twitch and change-of-direction movement.

"We do think that all these players that we selected we are making sure that we're keeping up with how the game is evolving," Holmes said.

What did Holmes learn in his first draft as GM?

"I think I learned that first off you have to surround yourself with great people and you have to trust them," he said. "In this chair you don't have the time to really do every single thing you want to, so you have to make sure you're on the same page and really trust the great people you surrounded yourself with and I believe that's what we did."

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