Lions Staff Visit College Pro Days To Scout Draft Prospects.
In the months between the combine and the draft, teams make the rounds to college pro days as prospects take their last shot at impressing NFL evaluators. While often overlooked, this part of the process is some of the best time to identify where teams are planning to go with their picks. They use this time to identify exactly who they are interested in and to do their last bits of due diligence on the prospects that they have narrowed in on. The Lions thus far under the brief leadership of Bob Quinn have followed this model to a ‘T’. Let’s see what insight Detroit’s attendance around the nation’s pro days can provide.
Bob Quinn And Jim Caldwell Are Making The Rounds
More so then many other teams leaders, GM Bob Quinn and Head Coach Jim Caldwell have really been involved in the scouting process at its lowest levels. This boots on the ground approach has been obvious throughout the offseason as every member of the personal department and coaching staff has attended multiple pro days at this point. This has led to the Lions being in attendance at more pro days then many teams and with a larger group then many others at some of the top schools.
While this doesn’t guarantee draft day success, it shows off an organization that has blue collar work ethic and wants to make sure they get the picks right. It’s also important to note that Quinn and Caldwell seem to travel together to the majority of these pro days which shows great team unity and one vision. This was a concern for some considering Caldwell’s seemingly tenuous employment status, however you can consider that now a non issue. Expect locations where contingents of this size are present to have prospects that the Lions are extremely interested in.
Detroit Lions General Manager Bob Quinn & head coach Jim Caldwell at Pro Day today! pic.twitter.com/NlJ4iHiFbE
— Toledo247 (@GoTolRockets) March 20, 2017
What to Look Out for: Quinn and Caldwell have led some of their largest groups so far to Clemson, Toledo, Pitt, Ohio St, and Michigan. Prospects that occupied a lot of their interest at those workouts included Carlos Watkins, Kareem Hunt, and Raekwon Mcmillan, among others.
Running Backs Coach David Walker Narrowing The Lions Draft Targets
From the Pittsburgh PG, Lions RBs coach David Walker ran the RB workouts yesterday. Also at Wisc, Toledo, Oklahoma https://t.co/9ynpVyLUuk
— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) March 23, 2017
Out of all the Lions position coaches, running back coach David Walker has certainly been the most high profile. He has now run running back workouts at four different pro days so far, spending a significant amount of time with Corey Clement, Samaje Perine, Kareem Hunt, and James Conner. All of these players are bruising between the tackles runners, so if anyone had any doubts that the Lions would address their power running game between this and the additions on the offensive line think again. Going forward look for D’onta Foreman at Texas to receive the same treatment.
While Leonard Fournette also fits this mold he’s almost without question a top 10 pick, far too high for Detroit to even consider. The range for these running backs is between the 2nd and 5th rounds, I would be extremely surprised if Detroit does not take one of these guys before the end of that period. Keep an especially close eye on James Conner out of that group, all reports are that the entire Lions contingent came out of the workout extremely impressed with him both on and off the field.
Keep An Eye On The Quarterbacks
The Lions sent Brian Xanders to Central Michigan pro day today. QB Cooper Rush is the best of CMU's draft prospects.
— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) March 20, 2017
While many believed Detroit was done with rookie quarterbacks for a while after the drafting of Jake Rudock last year that doesn’t quite seem to be the case. Brian Xanders, Jim Bob Cooter, and other major Lions personnel have been all over the late round quarterback market, working out numerous guys toted in the later rounds such as Ryan Higgins from Louisiana Tech, Cooper Rush from Central Michigan, and Virginia Tech’s Jerod Evans.
Bob Quinn has stated many times that “it’s good football business” to draft a quarterback every year and he seems to be following that line of thought here. Expect this trend of pro day viewings to continue as the Tennessee pro day is coming up shortly and Detroit has already had two separate meetings with Vol’s quarterback Josh Dobbs.
While it’s unclear if Detroit has decided whether they are willing to actually spend a pick at the position or not or plan on grab one as a priority UDFA, keep it in mind as a very real possibility in the 6th or 7th rounds.
Offensive Line Is Still On The Mind
Highlights of Storm Norton from Toledo's Pro Day: pic.twitter.com/Fmstz1K5rk
— Jordan Strack (@JordanStrack) March 20, 2017
Despite the additions to the Lions offensive line already, Detroit still doesn’t seem finished with that unit. They already considered bringing in interior backup Tim Lelito and are still looking for a depth player or two for competition on the roster. That need could be filled in the draft as Lions offensive line coach Ron Prince has been traveling around looking at a lot of different day three options Detroit could chose from. Sam Tevi from Utah is one to keep in mind as they have interviewed with him already at the east-west shrine game. Another name to mention is from Detroit’s Toledo trip, massive tackle Storm Norton who the Lions came away very impressed with.
At this point I wouldn’t say expect Detroit to take an offensive lineman on day three, however there’s a very good likelihood they will if the right player is on the board in the range they like them at. Also while the need may seem more great at interior depth, expect Detroit to focus more on the tackle position where they can find a raw prospect to stash and develop.
Other Points Of Note From Pro Days
- The Lions had their now third meeting (two official, one unofficial) with Obi Melifonwu, the freakish safety from the University of Connecticut. If he’s there in the second round expect Detroit to take him in a heartbeat, and don’t think he’s out of the realm of possibility at 21 either. He’s been steadily rising boards since the senior bowl and could easily make his way to the second half of the first come draft day.
- Brian Allen from Utah was being watched intently by Lions DB coach Alan Williams this past week, meeting with him after the workout. He’s a talented player with crazy measurables that could fall down boards due simply to the rare talent of this year’s cornerback class. The 6’3 215 lb corner is just one of many big athletic corners that Williams has been watching through recent pro day’s. He was also spotted at Washington watching Sidney Jones and Kevin King. expect that to be a prototype for what they’re looking for in a cornerback in this year’s draft.
- Tight End is by no means off the board after the free agent signing of Darren Fells. In another very deep positional class, expect the Lions to target someone starting from the third round on. They have already seen Jordan Leggett, Bucky Hodges, and a few others in action thus far and will continue to scout the position to prepare for a mid round pick to round out the unit.