One of the names that's been associated with the Lions via mock drafts and in draft analysis leading up to next week's actual NFL Draft is Texas-San Antonio pass rusher Marcus Davenport.
He's an interesting prospect because he's a big, long, fast and athletic pass rusher coming out of a small school. He's drawn some comparisons to current Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah from both an athletic and size perspective, but also because both players were considered fairly raw coming into the league. Most analysts have Davenport as the second best edge rusher in the draft behind Bradley Chubb.
NFL Draft analyst Mike Mayock was asked about Davenport in a national conference call Friday, and had an interesting perspective on him.
"I'm a Marcus Davenport guy," Mayock said. "But I think the underlying understanding has to be that he's very raw and is going to take a little bit of time."
While he's been a stand-up rusher at UTSA, teams may see Davenport as a 4-3 defensive end because of his 6-foot-6, 264-pound frame. He recorded 55 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks last season.
"Even in a simple system, where you line him up wide and teach him how to rush the quarterback, he's got a lot to learn," Mayock said.
"The further you get away from that – and by the way he's a very smart kid, I'm not taking any shots there at all – I'm just saying he's raw as can be.
"The further you get away from a simple system, where you're asking him to do multiple jobs, whether it's rush and the next snap you're dropping ... the more you're asking him to do the longer it's going to take to develop."
Mayock noted that Matt Patricia's schemes in the past in New England have been very complicated, and it might take "a long time" for a raw player like Davenport to develop in that kind of scheme.
"He's better off in a simple system where he can just line up and go as opposed to being asked to do multiple tasks," Mayock said.
It's certainly an interesting perspective from Mayock on one of the names that's been linked to the Lions in the pre-draft process.
Obviously, Bob Quinn and Patricia have their own analysis of Davenport and how he might fit into their schemes, so, we'll see what the Lions think come draft night if Davenport is on the board when the Lions select.
Mayock also touched on a couple other draft topics:
On RB Derrius Guice and what the Lions might be looking for out of a running prospect in this draft:
"Guice is a first-round talent," Mayock said. "I don't think anyone questions his running style, which is north/south, tough, quick feet, ran better than people thought. He's a first-round talent."
While Mayock compared Guice's style to veteran running back Frank Gore, he did have some concerns about Guice off the field.
"His issues are more just some immaturity off the field," Mayock said. "What's his work ethic going to be like? Will he be a true pro and show up to go to work every day? Some of those concerns could push him into the second round."
When looking at the Lions and what they might be looking for if they select a running back, Mayock said he believes the style of runner will be a bigger, stronger back.
"I love Nick Chubb," Mayock said. "I think you don't get any baggage like Guice has. He's completely over the knee injury from two years before. He's strong and tough. If you could get him in the second or third round, I think that would be a home run."
On the change in priorities when looking at defensive tackles:
Mayock thinks there's been a shift in defensive football over the years, especially when it comes to how teams look at the defensive tackle position. Mayock said that a few years ago having a massive body that could plug holes and stop run was the big priority.
He thinks the emphasis now is finding players who can rush the passer from inside and be disruptive up the middle to quarterbacks. He called it an "inside out" approach to disrupting quarterbacks and the league's quick passing attacks.
On LSU pass rusher Arden Key:
Key is a talented pass rusher, but he does have some off-the-field concerns.
"I would tell you from an athletic perspective, if he was clean off the field, he'd be a first-round edge rusher," Mayock said. "As it is now, if he went in the third round I'd be very surprised.
"If he went somewhere in the fourth or fifth round I think that's where it will be. Obviously, what it is is mitigating risk."