The Lions obviously saw a lot in Webster that they liked. They drafted him in the fifth round Saturday.
Webster, 6-6 ½ and 252 pounds, was a rebounding and shot-blocking specialist in basketball and a pass-rusher in football. He had 12.5 sacks in 2013 and has the potential to contribute to the Lions as part of the rotation at defensive end.
In terms of raw ability, Webster was second to one defensive lineman at the Combine – Jadeveon Clowney, the South Carolina star who was drafted first overall Thursday night by the Houston Texans.
If the linemen had a triathlon competition in the running and jumping drills at the Combine in February, Clowney would have won the gold medal for all-around performance with Webster taking the silver.
Clowney was No. 1 in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.53 seconds. Webster was second in 4.58. Clowney was second overall in the broad jump with a leap of 10 feet, 4 inches. Webster was next longest at 10-3. Clowney was second with a vertical jump of 37.5 inches. Webster was an inch back at 36.5.
Webster still had a lot of questions to answer for the scouts, starting with whether a former basketball player was tough enough to play defensive end in the NFL, but he left the Combine knowing he’d helped his draft stock.
“I think that helped me a lot, actually, especially since I ran the second fastest 40,” Webster said Saturday afternoon in a conference-call interview with the Detroit media. “I did pretty well in all the rest of the drills. I feel like that helped me out a lot.”
Webster played high school football in Maryland, and his father, Larry Webster Sr., played defensive line for 11 NFL seasons and was on the 2000 Ravens team that beat the Giants in the Super Bowl.
Larry Jr. put his football career on hold when he got to Bloomsburg for a practical reason.
“I’ve always loved playing football,” Webster said. “In college, I got a scholarship playing basketball.”
After four seasons as a productive rebounder and shot-blocker, he went out for football and played two seasons at defensive end. He had 12.5 sacks in the 2013 season. He also was used as a specialty receiver near the goal line because of his height and leaping ability, but he did not run tight end plays.
“I didn’t actually play any tight end,” Webster said. “It was just red zone receiver. They’d throw me the jump ball. I actually didn’t work out for any teams at tight end.”
One team had him run some tight end plays at his pro day workout, Webster said.
“That’s the only time I did tight end stuff.”
Webster visited the Lions in March, but he had no idea if he’d return as a draft pick.
“I liked the facility and everything I saw,” he said. “I was kind of hoping that I would (return).”