The NFL Scouting Combine kicks off in Indianapolis this week, and it's an important step in the pre-draft process. Teams get official measurements on the underclassmen, and the medical exams of the 300-plus athletes participating are critical to teams. Then there's the testing and on-field workouts, which either match what teams have studied on tape, or force teams to go back and do more homework on certain prospects.
The Combine kicks off a busy next month that features pro days around the country and official visits with teams. It's a big week for the Detroit Lions and the 31 other teams around the league.
Here are five things to watch out for in Indianapolis:
1. General manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia are expected to speak to the media. This is an annual tradition for both, and there's usually some good nuggets to come out of those sessions.
Quinn usually talks about the class as a whole, the strengths and weaknesses, and something tells me he'll field some questions about quarterback Matthew Stafford and cornerback Darius Slay, who've been in the headlines lately as trade rumors circulate.
View photos of Detroit Lions players at the NFL Combine.
2. It's unclear if Tua Tagovailoa will allow himself to be examined by team medical personnel or wait until he's further along in his rehab from hip surgery and utilize the Combine re-check window in early April, when he's expected to be closer to his full recovery time.
The Lions obviously have an interest in those medical reports with the third overall pick. The best scenario for the Lions is for Tagovailoa to get a clear bill of health, and that will open up more options for Detroit. Maybe a quarterback-needy team falls in love with Tagovailoa and wants to jump ahead of the Lions, which could leave Detroit with their pick of the top defensive players in this draft. Maybe a team wants to trade up with the Lions at No. 3, and Detroit moves back, gains draft capital, and still gets an impact defender early.
However it works out, Detroit is in a better spot at No. 3 if the medicals check out with Tagovailoa.
3. Speaking of those impact defenders, there are a number of players who have been linked to the Lions with the No. 3 pick, and we'll get to see their measurements and on-field workouts beginning later in the week.
Some names Lions fans should definitely be looking out for are Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young (maybe the best player in this draft), Ohio State defensive back Jeff Okudah, Clemson hybrid linebacker Isaiah Simmons and Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown. All could be in the mix at No. 3 for the Lions.
Young, Brown and Simmons will be available to the media Thursday and will work out Saturday from 4-11 p.m. on the NFL Network. Okudah will be available to the media Friday and work out Sunday from 2-7 p.m. on the NFL Network.
4. By all accounts, this is a loaded wide receiver class, maybe the deepest and most talented to ever come through the Combine. There are pass catchers of all shapes, sizes and speeds in this class, and there will be impact players drafted well into Day 2. It will be interesting to see how the receiver workouts go Thursday night, starting at 4 p.m. on the NFL Network.
Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. are entering the final year of their contracts in 2020, though we could see the Lions and Golladay talk about an extension sometime before the start of the season. Wide receiver is a sneaky need for the Lions this offseason, so it's worth paying attention to this stacked class of receivers at the Combine.
View photos of NFL.com's top wide receiver prospects attending the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine.
5. NFC North watch. Most head coaches and general managers from the Lions, Packers, Vikings and Bears are slated to speak to the media, and it's always nice to keep tabs on the division teams this time of year. How are negotiations going with their free agents? What are their draft needs?
I always write two NFC North columns during Combine week, one from the head coach availability and one from the GMs. The easiest way to secure a playoff spot is to win the division, so staying up to date with what's going on in the NFC North is always important.