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Rams may have lost secret weapon in Lions GM Brad Holmes

Holmes has turned around Detroit’s roster with two stellar draft classes in two years

NFL Combine Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams have lost a number of assistant coaches to promotions around the league over the last few years, such as Kevin O’Connell as head coach of the Vikings and Brandon Staley of the Chargers. Those moves get a lot more attention than perhaps the one that might hurt the most.

For ten years, Brad Holmes worked in the Rams scouting department before being promoted to the director of college scouting in 2013. Covering a span that included Aaron Donald, Todd Gurley, and Cooper Kupp, Holmes stayed in the role until he was hired to become the general manager of the Detroit Lions in 2021.

I believe it will be the move that ends a 31-year drought without a playoff win. If not this year, then soon enough.

Coming off of three years of losing under Matt Patricia, the Lions once again decided to undergo a coaching change and also fired general manager Bob Quinn. After meeting with candidates that included former Steelers GM Kevin Colbert, current Falcons GM Kevin Fontenot, former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, former Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff, Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds, and ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, Detroit went with the right decision:

Brad Holmes.

About a week later, the Lions made the surprising move of choosing Dan Campbell to be the head coach over some more popular candidates. I know it’s early to call Campbell the right hire—but this year’s Hard Knocks makes me feel like I’m late to the celebration.

But what really makes the Lions feel different under Holmes is of course the draft. In 2021, Detroit seemed to get lucky to have the top offensive tackle, Penei Sewell, fall to them at seven. They certainly celebrated like they got lucky. Sewell has been playing up to his draft status and it feels like former Lions front offices would have found reasons to make a riskier pick.

The Lions also should be satisfied with the rest of their 2021 draft class. But fourth round pick Amon-Ra St. Brown stands out as one of the great picks of last year already. How many times in history have the Detroit Lions ever had the best pick on day three?

Third round pick Alim McNeil is also playing at a high level at nose tackle.

Then this past April, Holmes again didn’t mess around with his first pick and the Lions ran the card to Goodell as fast as they could for Aidan Hutchinson. He had three sacks in the first half on Sunday. This may not happen every week—but remember, we’re talking about the Detroit Lions potentially hitting on another first round pick.

With their second first round pick, one acquired from the Rams in the Matthew Stafford trade (another move by Holmes that was exactly right for that franchise), the Lions traded up for receiver Jameson Williams. Not yet returned from ACL surgery, I believe Williams’ excessive acceleration speed will make him an immediate contributor to an offense that has already scored 71 points in its first two games of 2022.

The Detroit Lions have scored at least 35 points in each of their first two games. The Lions. And Holmes may have uncovered another draft treasure in sixth round linebacker Malcolm “Rodrigo” Rodriguez. To top it off, Holmes may have relatively good value with Jared Goff as Detroit’s bridge quarterback—if not a capable starter after throwing four touchdowns on Sunday.

It would be downright unethical for me to not consider the draft decisions of the Rams without Holmes as their director of college scouting for the last two years.

While it should be obvious to everyone by now that Les Snead made the move of last year by trading two first round picks, a third, and Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford, there have been questions raised about L.A.’s draft decisions. Including the selection of Tutu Atwell in round two last year.

Atwell has played in nine snaps over the first two games and is buried on the depth chart now, more so when Van Jefferson returns.

Fourth round pick Jacob Harris was cut after his second training camp. Fifth round pick Earnest Brown IV was let go after his first. Both are on the practice squad. There is a standout in third round pick Ernest Jones. The Rams did make eight other selections.

It is early to judge the 2022 class and none of the picks came in the top-100 selections. There seems to have been a higher-than-normal rate of injuries and expectations should remain low. Still, wouldn’t you always be peeking over at your neighbor to see how the longtime former college director of scouting is doing in his new home?

It will be impossible not to if the Lions continue on the path they’ve been on that has led them to one of their best starts on offense in years. Just wait until Jameson arrives. I’m sure Holmes will never forget where that pick came from.