Linebacker Jack Campbell had a formal interview with the Lions coaching staff at the NFL Scouting Combine and said he came away thinking Lions head coach Dan Campbell and his staff were all about football and Detroit would be a perfect landing spot for him.
So when the Lions used their second pick (No. 18 overall) in the first round of Thursday's NFL Draft on the talented Hawkeyes linebacker, he couldn't have been happier.
"I'm excited to step foot in there and be the best version of Jack Campbell," Campbell said in a Zoom call shortly after the selection. "Those guys are all about football."
Lions linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard said Campbell was his top linebacker in this class not only because of his athletic traits for his size and his production at Iowa, but also because of the passion with which he plays the game.
"We he left the room (during the formal interview at the Combine), me, Dan and AG (defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn) looked at each other and was like, 'Damn, that's going to be hard to top right there,'" Sheppard said.
"It was just exceptional. His knowledge of the game speaks for itself and shows on the tape. But it's the passion and I don't know if people are quite ready for it. He was literally just crying in tears. I'm still fired up about it. Just fired up for the opportunity to coach a player of that caliber."
Campbell possesses terrific size at 6-foot-4, 249 pounds, and is a tackle-to-tackle run stuffer with good lateral quickness. His 6.74 three-cone and 4.24 short shuttle were No. 1 among linebackers at the Combine. He also has a ton of production.
"It's exceptional what this player can do at his size," Sheppard said.
A two-year starter at the MIKE linebacker spot for the Hawkeyes, Campbell recorded 143 tackles as a junior in 2021 and 128 this past season in his senior year. He became the first Hawkeyes player to win the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker this past season.
View photos from inside the Detroit Lions draft room.
Campbell joins Alex Anzalone, Malcolm Rodriguez, Derrick Barnes, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and others in Detroit's linebacker room. He joins a Lions' defense that ranked 29th against the run last season (146.5) and were 30th in average yards per carry allowed (5.22). Campbell should help impact those numbers in Detroit's favor.
"He is a Detroit guy," Sheppard said. "A Dan Campbell guy. He's a culture kid immediately."