ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions selected offensive tackle Taylor Decker with the No. 16 overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night, landing a player to help Matthew Stafford stay upright for a change.
Detroit drafted the three-year starter from Ohio State to address a need identified by Bob Quinn, who made his first picks as a general manager after working in various roles for the New England Patriots.
“Definitely, a little more nerve-racking,” Quinn said.
The 6-foot-8, 315-pound Decker is projected as a right tackle in part because he needs to improve his footwork in pass protection, and that is likely the position he will play as a rookie in the Motor City. He will probably start opposite left tackle Riley Reiff, a 2012 first-round pick entering the last year of his contract.
“Taylor is a very durable player,” Quinn said. “Tough. Smart. Good agility. Good balance.”
The Lions need to bolster their offensive line to protect their investment in Stafford, the No. 1 pick overall in 2009, and to help them establish a better running game. Stafford has been sacked 89 times the past two years, a total that trails just three quarterbacks since 2014 and ranked last in the league last year in rushing.
“That was one of the areas we had to address,” Quinn said. “He’s the right player at the right time.”
Detroit has tried to build a formidable line through the draft in recent years.
The Lions took guard Laken Tomlinson with the No. 28 pick overall last year and he started 14 games. Larry Warford, a third-round pick in 2013, is a three-year starter. Travis Swanson, a third-round pick two years ago, started 14 games at center.
The Lions went into the three-day draft with 10 picks, including two in the fifth round and three in the sixth.
Detroit lost nine games last year, its 13th losing season in 15 years. During last season, team owner Martha Firestone Ford fired president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew, longtime executives with the team. She hired president Rod Wood to run business operations and Quin to make football-related decisions.
Quinn signed former Cincinnati Bengals receiver Marvin Jones to a five-year deal just days after superstar Calvin Johnson retired and re-signed defensive back Haloti Ngata.