Not only did the Lions host a combine-style workout for 17 local prospects on Wednesday, but they also hosted five more players as part of their allotted 30 pre-draft visits.
The local prospects don't count toward the 30.
Visiting Wednesday were Kansas State running back Bryce Brown, Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry, Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, Miami running back Lamar Miller and Nevada wide receiver Rishard Matthews.
The Lions are on the lookout for a fourth receiver and the draft might provide an opportunity to get a good receiver, but also someone who can also contribute on special teams.
Jenkins and Matthews are both experienced receivers, who’ve made contributions on special teams.
“Obviously, they have three good receivers here, so I’ll fit in where I can get in,” Jenkins told Detroitlions.com Wednesday. “If that means kick return or being a gunner on punt, I’ll do whatever I need to do.”
Offensively, Jenkins (6-0, 190) is a player who can stretch the field with sub-4.4 speed and has experience playing both inside and outside at Illinois. He’s expected to be a second- or third-round pick.
Matthews is a little bigger receiver at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds and plays a more physical style. He played mostly on the outside at Nevada but is projected as more of a slot receiver in the NFL because of his frame.
“I’m definitely not scared to go across the middle,” said Matthews, who’s projected as a mid-round pick. “That’s part of the game. I played free safety in high school, so I’m all for going in and playing on any special teams unit, too.”
Miller is considered the third-best running back in the draft after Alabama’s Trent Richardson and Boise State’s Doug Martin.
Miller has good size at 5-foot-11 and 212 pounds and runs a low 4.4 40-yard dash. That has some teams coveting his versatility.
“A lot of teams like my speed and a have some size and power,” Miller said. “I can be a scat back and a power back and that’s what a lot of teams have been talking to me about.
“Defenders don’t know if I'm going to try and run them over or try running past them. I think I always keep defenders guessing.”
Miller is a late-first-round to early-second-round prospect and isn’t likely to be around when the Lions pick 54th overall in the second round.
Brown is an interesting prospect teams don’t have a whole lot of tape on. He was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and was rated higher than Richardson coming out of high school. He played one year at Tennessee before transferring to Kansas State when Tennessee coach Lane Kiffen left for USC. Brown sat out his sophomore year because of NCAA rules and then left Kansas State just three games into his junior year.
On paper, he fits the bill of an NFL running back. He’s 6-foot-0, 223 pounds and said he ran a 4.43 40-yard dash in an offseason workout.
“My college career has really allowed me to appreciate the game more,” Brown said Wednesday. “I see myself as a first round talent, but certain situations prevent me from being there. I understand that and I’m willing to deal with those.
“This isn’t how I pictured myself coming into the next level, but that’s okay. I know once I get to camp everything else will take care of itself.”
Brown is a late-round prospect and could ultimately make a roster as an undrafted free agent.
Curry (6-3, 266) spent part of Wednesday morning with Lions defensive line coach Kris Kocurek and he said afterward it didn’t take long for him to realize that the Lions defense is all about getting to the quarterback.
Curry, who had 23 sacks over his last two seasons at Marshall, says that kind of defense is the perfect fit for him.
“The defensive system that the Detroit Lions run is my system and the system that I would love to see me in,” he said. “You can’t double team everyone along that defensive line and it’s just a tremendous group and a tremendous room.”
The Lions brought in Oregon outside linebacker/defensive end Josh Kaddu and Clemson defensive end Andre Branch on Tuesday.
Branch is considered one of the top five pass rushers available in next week’s draft and told Detroitlions.com that whoever gets him in next weeks draft is getting a quarterback’s worst nightmare.
“I’m a sideline-to-sideline player and I can’t be blocked one-on-one when I pass rush,” Branch said with a big smile. “If you let me rush, I’m going to get you some sacks.”
The Lions likely view Kaddu (6-3, 239) as a defensive end in the NFL, even though he played outside linebacker in college. Kaddu fits that mold of a speed-rushing defensive end the Lions like to utilize in their scheme.
“I need to add some mass and work on my technique because the guys at this level are technicians at what they do,” Kaddu said of things he's been working on leading into the draft.