A Look At Detroit Lions UDFA Signing Of JoJo Wicker
The Detroit Lions signing of UDFA JoJo Wicker is one of the more interesting ones to me this off-season. His size would likely have him as a 3′ in the NFL, however, he spent a good deal of his time at Arizona playing base 4-3 defensive end. At 6’2″, 297 lbs, that is unlikely to happen at the next level given his lack of athletic ability.
However, the Lions are expected to run a multiple-front scheme under new head coach Matt Patricia. Wickers size would suggest 3′, but could definitely fill the role as the closed end in over fronts or the “big” defensive end in heavy packages.
During his three seasons at Arizona, JoJo Wicker had really up and down performances. This is largely due to inconsistencies in his technique. However, outside of his sack total, each seasons his increased his production in tackles and tackles for a loss. Though he did post his highest sack total last season with 6.5. He finished his career at Arizona with 12.5 sacks, 32 tackles for a loss, and 70 tackles.
While his hand fighting technique is quite good, the rest of his fundamentals need serious refinement. He is slow and uneven coming out of his stance quite often. Needs to mirror feet with hands to deliver more power at the point of attack. Setting his base wider would go a long way to helping him hold his ground better against stronger interior lineman.
However, when he is able to get quick penetration, he can really disrupt opposing running games. It is by no accident nearly half of his career tackles were for a loss. He has a really good feel for where the run is going. Possesses shorter arms, but powerful and quick swipes helped keep offensive linemen at bay while he attacked downhill against the run. Took above average pursuit angles, except when facing read-option. Mental diagnosing of trap blocks was quick, though he needs to do a better job taking them on. Several times he got caught turning his back to offensive lineman in an attempt to evade them, only to get knocked right to the ground.
Ultimately, I think JoJo Wicker is at an advantage playing a position that is arguably the Lions weakest spot, depth-wise. However, he will need a serious fundamental overhaul to be anything more than a camp body for them. His lack of length, burst, and functional strength are genuine concerns are worthy reasons for why he went undrafted. But his size, versatility, and knack for stuffing runs in the backfield is enough cause to stay aware of his development in Detroit.