| Detroit Free Press
Meet Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes
Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes was hired to the role in January 2021 following a 5-11 season and firings of Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia.
Tyler J. Davis, Detroit Free Press
If you’re not familiar with the word, it means an idealized or idolizing biography of a venerated person or saint.
And you’re about to get plenty of it with Brad Holmes, the Los Angeles Rams’ director of college scouting whom the Detroit Lions hired as their general manager Thursday.
I’m not against praising anyone’s accomplishments. But we should be careful how much we buy in to unadulterated exaltation. We should scrutinize the hiring of any top executive or coach. We should balance gushing praise with healthy skepticism.
Of course, we’ll get nothing but puppies and rainbows from the Lions.
“On behalf of the entire Lions organization, I am thrilled to welcome Brad Holmes to Detroit,” owner Sheila Ford Hamp said in a statement Thursday. “Several weeks ago when we embarked on this process, it was critical that we find the right person to fit our vision for this team. It was evident early on that Brad is a proven leader who is ready for this opportunity. We are thrilled to introduce him to our fans as a member of our football family.”
But let’s not forget this is what team president Rod Wood said about hiring Bob Quinn in 2016: “We are thrilled to have agreed to a deal with Bob to make him our new general manager. “As Mrs. (Martha) Ford indicated at the outset, our search would be national in scope, and we would do everything possible to identify the very best person to lead our football operation. We believe Bob is that person.”
“Thrilled” must either be some kind of code word or part of a drinking game in Allen Park. Non-alcoholic Kool-Aid, of course.
Nationally, people weren’t so thrilled, seemingly falling out of the national consciousness as fast as it popped up Thursday morning.
I know media attention and fan interest isn’t a great indicator of anyone’s potential. But it’s some kind of barometer that tells us the rest of the football world was underwhelmed by Holmes’ hiring. And yes, count me among them.
But to prove my commitment to fairness and balance, I’ll start by praising what might be Holmes’ most important qualification: drafting the right quarterback.
Holmes supposedly helped guide the decision to draft Jared Goff instead of Carson Wentz with the top overall pick in 2016. If that’s true, it speaks to Holmes’ potential to draft the right quarterback — or at least not the wrong one — for the Lions this year or sometime soon after.
It’s not like Goff is the next Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. But what I find refreshing about Holmes’ potential is his willingness to admit he learned from his mistakes. As a young combine scout, he whiffed on evaluations of Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson and Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm.
“That spring heading into their senior year, I put some huge grades on both of those guys,” he told Yahoo.com in 2019. “And I just thought, like, ‘Oh, these are what pro quarterbacks look like.’ They were big, strong arms, pedigrees and all that.
“They just didn’t end up panning out to what I thought at the time. It didn’t really affect my confidence. I knew I was still in a developmental stage as an evaluator. It really just made me roll up my sleeves as an evaluator and say, ‘Hey, man, I really need to get better at evaluating QBs.’”
The problem is that if Holmes gets credit for helping draft Goff and Aaron Donald, what kind of blame does he get for a huge miss on tackle Greg Robinson with the No. 2 overall pick and, to a lesser degree, quarterback Sean Mannion in the third round?
The Goff situation could be at the heart of where Holmes will lead the Lions because it took a massive trade by Rams GM Les Snead with Tennessee to move up from No. 15 to No. 1. The question is how much will Holmes mimic Snead, an aggressive deal-maker who loves flashy trades like acquiring Jalen Ramsey, and gets rid of high draft picks like they’re red-hot coals burning his hands.
It’s impossible to predict what kind of GM Holmes will be, but my guess is he will be somewhat like Snead, who has been the Rams’ GM the entire time Holmes was the college scouting director. Holmes likely has been influenced by other mentors, but since he never worked on the pro side of scouting or personnel acquisition, it makes the most sense that he will borrow from Snead’s example.
And that means it could get messy because Holmes will have to decide if he wants to adhere to the so-called “Rams standard” of having players who are “good teammates” and “relentless” as well as “smart players, instinctive players, explosive players.”
Yeah … about that. Remember the Rams are the team that signed Ndamukong Suh and Ramsey, who almost came to blows with Jaguars coach Doug Marrone on the sideline.
I think real leadership, at its most effective, is about communication and compromise. If Holmes doesn’t needlessly tie himself to some made-up slogan from his former team and embraces the harsh truth about the Lions and their history of failure, he could begin to write some chapters in his hagiography that truly would be worth reading.
Contact Carlos Monarrez at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.