One of several Clemson defensive linemen drafted this year, Austin Bryant is in line to make his NFL debut. The Lions activated Bryant from IR on Wednesday.
The defensive end will take the roster spot of fullback Nick Bawden, whom the Lions placed on IR. A foot injury will shelve Bawden.
Bryant joined first-rounders Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence on Clemson’s loaded D-line last season. Despite registering 17 sacks and 30.5 tackles for loss last season, Bryant fell to the fourth round. The rookie suffered a torn pectoral muscle last November but played through it. He did not undergo surgery until January, affecting his stock somewhat. But the Lions will soon see what they have in the two-time national champion defender.
This will be Bawden’s second straight season on IR. The 2018 seventh-round pick missed all of last season because of an ACL tear. He played sparingly this season but served as the team’s fullback.
The Lions fear rookie that rookie fullback Nick Bawden suffered a torn ACL in practice on Wednesday, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter) said. Right now, it looks like the seventh-round pick’s season is over and it is expected that he will be placed on injured reserve in the coming days.
It’s an unfortunate loss for the Lions, but have another fullback option in ex-linebacker Nick Bellore. The Central Michigan product re-signed with the Lions on a one-year, $1MM deal ($90K guaranteed) this offseason and recognizes that the switch to fullback represents his best shot at making the cut.
“There’s a lot of carryover,” Bellore said this week (via Justin Rogers of The Detroit News). “You’re kind of in the same attacking position. The only difference is you’re not moving backwards – or at least I hope not. It’s mostly kind of mirroring what linebackers do. It’s not the easiest transition. I’m learning, day by day, offensive terminology and all that stuff. It takes time, but I’ve got great coaches.”
Bellore practiced as a fullback while with the Jets from 2011-14, but never saw live action in that role. Last year, Detroit used him on 13 offensive snaps.
Add Frank Ragnow to the list of first-round picks who have signed their rookie deals. The Lions came to terms with their top draft choice, and this draft’s first center chosen, on Friday. Here’s the full list of Friday agreements heading into Detroit’s rookie minicamp:
Ragnow figures to immediately compete for a starting job in the Motor City. The Lions allowed starting center Travis Swanson to defect to the Jets, but they added ex-Jets starting snapper Wesley Johnson in free agency. Detroit was considering moving Graham Glasgow from guard to center, but the Ragnow addition may keep him at guard, where he fared well last season.
The former Razorback was a consensus All-American last season, and Pro Football Focus twice bestowed first-team All-American honors on Ragnow — in both his junior and senior slates. The draft slot system will place Ragnow’s rookie deal at $11.8MM over the customary four years, with an approximate $6.6MM signing bonus, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).
This leaves only third-round pick Tracey Walker, a safety out of Louisiana-Lafayette, as Detroit’s only unsigned pick.