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Lions follow Patriots blueprint by acquiring former 2nd overall bust OT Greg Robinson

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The Lions general manager used to work for the Patriots.

The New England Patriots spent the 2016 season acquiring as many former first rounders as they could. They signed EDGE Chris Long (2008 2nd overall), RB Donald Brown (2009 27th overall), WR Michael Floyd (2012 13th overall), LB Shea McClellin (2012 19th overall), LB Barkevious Mingo (2013 6th overall), and OG Jonathan Cooper (2013 7th overall) all en route to winning the Super Bowl.

The Patriots also acquired LB Kyle Van Noy (2014 40th overall) and CB Eric Rowe (2015 47th overall) to bolster the number of top 50 picks supported the New England roster.

Brown didn’t make the team, and Long, Floyd, Mingo, and Cooper are no longer with the Patriots- but the Patriots strategy was clear. New England wanted to add as many top prospects as they could for the lowest possible prices.

And now former Patriots director of pro scouting and current Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn has brought that strategy to Michigan.

The Lions lost franchise left tackle Taylor Decker for the summer to an injury and there’s a chance the injury could keep the rising sophomore out for the start of the 2017 season. Quinn shipped away a low-value pick for the former 2nd overall pick of the 2014 draft in Greg Robinson.

Robinson joins CB Justin Gilbert (8th overall), S Calvin Pryor (18th overall), WR Brandin Cooks (20th), LB Kyle Van Noy (40th), and DT Timmy Jernigan (48th) as players selected in the top 50 of the 2014 NFL draft that have been traded to a new franchise. The Lions also signed OT Cyrus Kouandjio (44th overall of the 2014 draft) who was injured and released by the Bills, while the Patriots also acquired EDGE Kony Ealy, who was the 60th overall pick of the 2014 draft.

Despite starting 42 of a possible 48 games at left tackle, Robinson was a total bust for the Rams and was expected to move in to play guard for 2017. The 24-year-old tackle will cost the Lions $3.3 million in 2017, which is a relatively low price for an offensive tackle (he will be the 48th most expensive tackle in the league).

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and all of his acolytes put a value on starting experience, even if it’s low-quality experience, because at least the scouting department can see what the player accomplishes against other NFL players; there isn’t much projection. This allows the coaching staff to highlight and mask whatever weaknesses the player might have to put them in the best position to succeed.

Robinson might not even play a snap for the Lions if Decker recovers quickly, but Quinn put together an offer for the Rams that would make Belichick proud.

Of course, as teams catch on to the Patriots strategy, New England might already be one step ahead as evidenced by their acquisition of WR Brandin Cooks. We’ll have to wait and see if this was a one-off trade, or the start of a bigger shift in strategy, but perhaps the Patriots have moved on from giving up cheap draft capital for top round busts to giving up top capital for proven studs on near-expiring rookie deals.