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A look at the connections between the New England Patriots and the Detroit Lions.Read


  • Lions executive vice president and general manager Bob Quinn is a native of Norwood, Mass., and earned both his undergraduate and master’s degrees from University of Connecticut. He was also a graduate assistant in the athletic department for the Huskies.
  • Lions WR Noel Thomas is a native of Norwalk, Conn., and attended St. Luke’s School (New Canaan, Conn.). He went on to be a three-year starter at the University of Connecticut, where he recorded 183 receptions, the fourth-most in school history.
  • Lions vice president of player personnel Kyle O’Brien attended Harvard University and interned with the Patriots while an undergraduate student there.
  • Lions special teams coordinator Joe Marciano coached the wide receivers at Rhode Island from 1978-79.
  • Lions tight ends coach Al Golden served as linebackers coach at Boston College from 1997-99.
  • Lions defensive backs/cornerbacks coach Tony Oden was also a graduate assistant at Boston College in 1997.
  • Lions linebackers coach Bill Sheridan coached the linebackers at the University of Maine form 1987-88.


  • Patriots QB Tom Brady played at the University of Michigan from 1997-99, where he amassed a 20-5 record as a two-year starter for the Wolverines.
  • Patriots DL Alan Branch attended Michigan from 2004-06 and earned first-team All-Big Ten and ESPN All-America honors.
  • Patriots LB David Harris hails from Grand Rapids, Mich. He attended Ottowa Hills High School and went on to play at Michigan from 2003-06.


  • Lions executive vice president and general manager Bob Quinn was hired by the Lions after 16 seasons with the Patriots (2000-15), most recently as director of pro scouting. During his time at New England, he had a hand in developing teams that won 13 division titles, six AFC championships and four Super Bowls.
  • Lions defensive assistant – special projects George Godsey spent three years on the coaching staff with the Patriots from 2011-13.
  • Lions tight ends coach Al Golden played one season in the NFL with the Patriots.
  • Lions head strength and conditioning coach Harold Nash, Jr., worked on the Patriots’ strength staff for 11 seasons from 2006-16, starting as an assistant coach before being promoted to head strength and conditioning coach in 2011.
  • Lions vice president of player personnel Kyle O’Brien was with the Patriots from 2002-11, serving in various roles in the personnel department during his tenure with the team.
  • Lions S Tavon Wilson was drafted by the Patriots in 2012 NFL Draft. During his four seasons at New England, he appeared in 54 regular season games and seven postseason games, including Super Bowl XLIX.
  • Lions WR Keshawn Martin played one season with the Patriots in 2015, starting eight of the nine games in which he appeared and recording 24 receptions for 269 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Lions TE Tim Wright was with the Patriots for the 2014 season, playing all 16 regular season games and making two starts.

Read more…

Colorado cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon could be an option for the Lions in the middle rounds of next week’s draft. (AP File Photo)

Defensive back

Current starters: CB Darius Slay, CB Nevin Lawson, NB Quandre Diggs, FS Glover Quin, SS Tavon Wilson
Current reserves: Joe Hayden, Johnson Bademosi, Alex Carter, Ian Wells, Charles Washington, Rolan Milligan, Miles Killibrew, Don Carey
Best in class: Ohio State CB Marson Lattimore, Washington CB Kevin King, Ohio State CB Gareon Conley, LSU S Jamal Adams, Ohio State S Malilk Hooker
First-round possibilities for Detroit (21st overall): King, Conley, Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey, LSU CB Tre’Davious White, Michigan S Jabrill Peppers
Day 2-3 fits: Colorado CB Chidobe Awuzie, Washington CB Sidney Jones, USC CB Adoree’ Jackson, Utah CB Brian Allen, Colorado CB Ahkello Witherspoon, NC State S Josh Jones
Late-round possibilities: Houston CB Brandon Wilson, Central Florida CB Shaquill Griffin, Middle Tennessee State CB/S Jeremy Cutrer, Oklahoma State S Jordan Sterns
Breakdown: At cornerback, the Lions have better depth than many realize. Darius Slay is a rising star who is under contract for another four years, giving the defense a shutdown corner around which to build. And Nevin Lawson was good last season opposite him. Not great — especially when Slay went down with hamstring injuries, forcing Lawson to be the No. 1 guy — but good. He’s an ascending player.

But there are long-term considerations to think about as well. Lawson is entering a contract year, while Quandre Diggs languished through a sophomore slump in the slot. D.J. Hayden was signed to offer him some competition there, and he could get some run on the outside too, but even he’s on a one-year deal.

Luckily for the Lions, this draft is brimming with quality cornerback play. They could use their first-round pick on a variety of corners, like the long Kevin King (6-foot-3) out of Washington. Or there’s Gareon Conley, who’s a little smaller but even stickier in coverage (13.6 QB rating allowed when he was on the outside). Or Tre’Davious White, maybe the best ballhawk of the bunch with six interceptions and three TDs on punt returns.

Or they could wait until the middle rounds and add some length in 6-foot-3 corners like Ahkello Witherspoon, who grew an extra foot in his senior year of high school, or Brian Allen. Or if they prefer a smaller, speedier option, USC’s Adoree Jackson is one of the draft’s best all-around athletes and could be a Day 1 starter at kick/punt returner.

At safety, the Lions are in even better short-term shape. They return both starters in the always dependable Glover Quin and the quietly productive Tavon Wilson, plus expect big things from Miles Killebrew after he turned in a promising rookie season. He should be ready for an expanded load after working mostly out of subpackages as a safety-linebacker hybrid last year.

But just like at corner, there are long-term needs that must be addressed. Quin played every defensive snap for the Lions last year and has been ultra reliable since joining the franchise in 2013, but he also turned 31 this offseason and is entering a contract year. Wilson is in the final year of his deal as well. In fact, Killebrew is the only safety under contract beyond 2017.

The Lions probably won’t use their first-round pick at the position — yes, Jabrill Peppers is a possibility, but I don’t see it happening with Miles Killebrew already on the roster — but this safety class is an exceptional one, which could give them a great opportunity to address a long-term need without burning an early-round pick to do it. One name to keep an eye on is Obi Melifonwu. The UConn freak is 6-foot-4 and won every event he entered at the combine. If he’s there when Detroit’s back on the clock at 53rd overall, he’ll be awfully hard to pass on.


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