AP Sports Writer
ALLEN PARK (AP) — A’Shawn Robinson was such a large kid his mother had to show up at his little league games to prove his age.
“She had to bring my birth certificate every single time,” Robinson said.
Many years later at Alabama, his mature looks and thick beard led to him getting to jabs from his teammates.
“They always joke around and call me old man,” he said.
Robinson determined he was physically and mentally mature enough to skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft, and the Detroit Lions drafted him Friday night in the second round with the No. 46 overall pick.
Clearly, the Lions are trying to bolster both lines under new general manager Bob Quinn. They addressed another pressing need by taking Ohio State offensive tackle Taylor Decker in the middle of the first round about 24 hours earlier, hoping to give more protection to quarterback Matthew Stafford and improve the league’s worst rushing offense.
The Lions had a pair of intriguing options at defensive tackle when it was on the clock, and both played at Alabama. They chose Robinson over his former teammate Jarran Reed.
The 6-foot-4, 307-pound Robinson is regarded as a powerful run-stuffing player and a team leader, though perhaps relatively limited as a pass-rushing lineman. He had nine sacks over his three-year career, and said the system limited the number of times he hit quarterbacks before they got rid of the ball.
“It was like our game plan to control-rush,” Robinson said.
The Lions went into the three-day draft with 10 selections, including a pair in the fifth round and a trio of slots in the sixth round. The franchise was given a third-round pick, 95th overall, for losing defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and a fifth-round selection for losing Nick Fairley in free agency last year.
Detroit signed Haloti Ngata last year to attempt to replace Suh, and re-signed the 32-year-old defensive tackle early in free agency. He started last year next to Caraun Reid, a fifth-round in 2015. Robinson should have a shot to start, possibly replacing Reid and playing with Ngata.
“It’s amazing, honestly, to play with a guy (Ngata) that has that much experience in the NFL,” Robinson said. “To play that many years and dominate that many years in the league, it’s amazing to be able to play beside him, or behind him.”
Quinn expected to mesh drafting the best player available with addressing needs. With his first two picks, he took players who can be plugged in to significant roles as rookies for a team coming off its 13th losing season in 15 years.
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