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5 things to watch: Rookie minicamp

The 2017 Detroit Lions rookie class has assembled in Allen Park and will hit the field for the first time today for the start of their rookie minicamp.

This will be the first introduction to the NFL for the rookies before being thrown into the mix with the veterans for OTAs in a week.

There isn't much time in the NFL to bring rookies along slow. They have to hit the ground running if they want to survive, which is what makes these next three days very important.

Here are five things to look out for as rookie minicamp kicks off:


After drafting Taylor Decker in the first round of the draft last season, GM Bob Quinn and head coach Jim Caldwell said Decker would come in and play both tackle spots and see where the best fit would be.

Decker slotted in at left tackle Day 1 of rookie minicamp, and that ended up being where he stayed most of the offseason.

Fast forward a year, and some of the same questions have been asked about first-round pick Jarrad Davis. Is he a MIKE linebacker or a WILL? In the immediate aftermath of the selection, Quinn said he'd play both spots and see where he fits best. Quinn later went on to say he'd ideally like to see Davis at the MIKE.

Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin looks like an ideal fit for the WILL. Is that where he starts out this weekend?

Cornerback Jamal Agnew has the frame and game to play nickel. Is that where he gets the most run this weekend?


The Lions selected cornerback Teez Tabor in the second round, despite some timed speed concerns. Quinn said he's probably never watched as much tape on a prospect as he did on Tabor.

The tape on Tabor is great. He was one of college football's best cornerbacks over the last two seasons.

But when scouts and front office personnel go to the NFL Scouting Combine in February and the college pro days in March, they are looking for the measurables to match the tape. They basically want players to reaffirm what they scouted on tape.

With Tabor, the 40 times in the 4.6's and 4.7's didn't match the tape.

So, Quinn went back and watched even more tape. He said he felt comfortable with what he saw on film in terms of Tabor's playing speed and anticipation to make him a second-round pick.

There will no-doubt be a lot of watchful eyes on Tabor during Friday's open portion of practice, especially the first time one of these rookie receivers with 4.4 speed tries to take the top off the defense on Tabor's side.


An undrafted rookie free agent has made the Lions' initial 53-man roster in each of the last seven seasons. Last year, it was cornerback Adairius Barnes and tight end Cole Wick. Running back Zach Zenner (2015) and tackle Cornelius Lucas (2014) were also undrafted players who made the opening day roster as rookies and are still on the current roster.

As Quinn continues to add talent and depth with veteran free agents and draft picks, it should become harder and harder for undrafted players to make the roster, but there's always an opportunity for an undrafted player to come to camp and impress.  

Who might be a candidate this year?


The Lions waited until the sixth and seventh rounds of the draft to address adding young talent to the defensive line.

That's an indication Quinn feels good about the current talent and depth at end and tackle.

That doesn't mean sixth-round pick Jeremiah Ledbetter (DT) and seventh rounder Pat O'Connor (DE) won't be given an opportunity to impress and possibly crack the rotation.

Ledbetter led Arkansas in both sacks (5.5) and tackles for loss (7.5). O'Connor is Eastern Michigan's all-time sack leader, and his five forced fumbles last season were fourth-most in FBS football.


He's not going to earn it this weekend, but a good first impression can go a long way.

Golladay has something the Lions are lacking at the receiver spot – size. He's 6-foot-4 and 218 pounds, making him only the second receiver currently on the roster (Ryan Spadola) who measures in at over 200 pounds.

He had great production with 160 receptions for 2,285 yards and 18 touchdowns the last two seasons at Northern Illinois. The Lions could use someone to emerge at the position behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr..

Can Golladay show this weekend that he can be a threat down the field and in the red zone with his size/speed combination.

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