NFL rookies are making first impressions in their respective mini-camps. It’s the Lions’ turn, with a three-day camp beginning Friday. Last week, Denard Robinson made a good impression in Jacksonville’s rookie camp.
What do you want to see from the Lions’ new players?
Mike: There isn’t any contact in these camps, but you can see the players’ athleticism. There are a lot of things to look at such as Ziggy Ansah’s quickness and power and the level of agility guard Larry Warford shows. And punter Sam Martin will be scrutinized because a fifth-round draft pick was used to get him.
Ansah should get most of the attention because he’s the first-round draft pick, but every pick is important.
Tim: All eyes will gravitate toward Ansah, and rightfully so. Can he show the same type of athleticism and explosion he showed at the Senior Bowl in this scheme?
I’m with you in my interest in seeing Warford, but I’d also add Corey Fuller to the list. He’s only played one full season of major college football. Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew has tabbed him as “raw”. How well does he run routes? How are his hands? Can he stretch the field and be a weapon early on?
I’d also include a few undrafted free agents as players I’ll be interested in watching.
Is there a good chance any of these undrafted free agents make the roster?
Mike: Fauria is an interesting prospect because of his size. The Lions drafted another tight end, Mike Williams, in the seventh round but Fauria has more of a receiving background.
Plus, he has bloodlines to play pro ball. His uncle, Christian, played more than a decade at tight end in the NFL. We aren't talking about thoroughbred horses -- yes, I had the winner in the Kentucky Derby -- but that should count for something.
Don't expect a surprise to come out of the rookie class until training camp, but someone can make a first impression.
Tim: Fauria has as good a shot as any of the undrafted rookies to make the team. He has great size and soft hands, which produced 12 touchdowns as a senior. He’ll have to show he can block, though.
Do you think Carder has a shot, Mike?
Mike: I wouldn't count out Carder, either, but Moore certainly has the advantage from being on the team last year. I can't see how he did anything to hurt himself a year ago, and he should be bigger and stronger.
I want to see what Fuller has, too. Receivers have made careers out of being long-ball threats playing opposite a star. Of course,
The best part of minicamp for rookies is that it gives them a primer on what to expect when they start working with the veterans in the offseason program. They won't be lost doing drills.
Do you share my interest in Denard Robinson?
Tim: Denard would have been an interesting prospect in this offense, but I wonder how many opportunities he would have gotten with
Robinson would have backed up Bush. I don’t think he would have beaten out Broyles in the slot. So, he would have been a returner on special teams and a situational player as a backup.
He’s a running back in my book, and that’s a crowded backfield for the Lions. I hope he does well. Great kid. I enjoyed watching him run in Ann Arbor.
Mayhew is famous for saying the draft is not the finish line when it comes to the roster.
What do the Lions still have to accomplish before the start of training camp?
Mike: Hold on, pal. You're not cutting me out of the Denard Robinson discussion. I don't know where he'd fit in the Lions' offense, but running back would have been his first stop.
I've already said that I probably wanted the Lions to draft him to satisfy my curiosity -- so I could watch his development every day. Having said that, it's probably best that he went to another team, to avoid curiosity-seekers like myself charting all of his plays.
After this rookie camp there's still work to be done. A veteran tackle would be a good addition on the offensive line, along with a proven return man, and I'm not sure that they're set with a third receiver.
But they better hurry. The season starts in four months!!!!!
Tim: You would have chartered Denard's plays. Knowing you, it would have become a weekly feature in your Monday Countdown column.
There certainly isn’t a big rush for the Lions to add veteran players. It's always good to see what the younger (a.k.a. cheaper) players bring to the table first.
There probably isn’t much rush for some of the veteran free agents out there, either. They're looking for the absolute best situation at this point in their careers.
Mayhew has already said publically he wants to add a veteran tackle. Expect that one.
The veteran return man is interesting. I see Josh Cribbs is still without a team. He could get a shot to play receiver for the Lions, too. Not sure the cost, though.