INDIANAPOLIS – When asked earlier this week at the NFL Scouting Combine which position group in this draft has the most talent and depth, Detroit Lions GM Brad Holmes first mentioned interior defensive line.
The Lions have some nice young players inside they acquired in last year's NFL Draft in Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike. They also have veteran Michael Brockers, but at 31-years-old, Brockers is on the backend of his career. John Penisini, Bruce Hector, Eric Banks and Jashon Cornell are depth players, but teams can never have too many good interior defenders. Especially a team like Detroit, where Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell have talked often about wanting this team to be tough in the trenches.
This is a very deep and talented draft class of interior defenders, led by Georgia's big defensive tackle Jordan Davis.
"Everybody knows I'm a run stopper and pass rush kind of goes by the wayside with me," Davis said at the Combine Friday. "But definitely in the offseason that's something I've been working on. I've called on a few people. I've been working out with Chuck Smith, who's known as Dr. Pass Rush.
"I feel when I have a disadvantage I want to make sure I try to even the odds and bring it up to the same level. It's just all working and about improving. This is what it's all about. In the offseason you want to get better. I definitely think I'm doing that."
Davis, who was mocked to the Lions at No. 32 in NFL analyst Daniel Jeremiah's recent mock draft, tipped the scales at over 350 pounds as the centerpiece to Georgia's championship defense this past season. He says he wants to play in the 330s at the NFL level to bring out some of those pass-rush skills. He plays in the opponent's backfield often because of his sheer power.
Along with Davis, Travon Walker (Georgia), Devonte Wyatt (Georgia), Travis Jones (Connecticut), DeMarvin Leal (Texas A&M), Perrion Winfrey (Oklahoma) and Logan Hall (Houston) all made Daniel Jeremiah's list of the Top 50 players in this draft class. Alabama's Phidarian Mathis was an honorable mention.
Jones, Wyatt and Winfrey all showed out at the Senior Bowl in Mobile last month.
View photos from media availability at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine on Friday, March 4, 2022 in Indianapolis.
"Coming from UConn we don't play big-time schools every week and I wanted to go down there and show I could dominate anybody in the country," Jones said of his Senior Bowl experience. "I had a chip on my shoulder and I feel like I went down there and did my job."
With Brockers, McNeill and Onwuzurike, the need at defensive tackle isn't as great as say edge rusher, receiver or safety heading into free agency and the draft. Detroit values talent and depth upfront along both lines, and they could find themselves in a situation come draft time where the best player on their board late in Day 1, or on Days 2 & 3, is an interior defender because of the depth of that position. If that's the case, it's never a bad idea to stock up on impact defenders along the defensive line.