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O'HARA: How GM Brad Holmes became the perfect fit for Lions

Brad Holmes was not on the list of original candidates the Detroit Lions' management had compiled when they began their search for a new general manager.

Once Holmes made the list, he quickly rose to the top of the list of 12 candidates and stayed there.

He was hired last week and was introduced in his first press conference as GM of the Lions via Zoom Tuesday.

Holmes had the professional background and personal qualities the Lions were looking for in a general manager who could lead a culture change throughout the organization while putting a winning team on the field.

Holmes, 41, comes to the Lions after 18 seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. The last eight were as director of college scouting.

"Everything about Brad stood out to us," Sheila Ford Hamp, principal owner of the Lions, said at Tuesday's press conference.

"We had this process which really was amazing. When we finished with Brad, all I said was 'Wow.' Just 'Wow.'

"He was everything we were looking for. Extremely intelligent. Amazing communicator. Collaborator. It was great."

All 12 interviews for the GM position were done with four members of the Lions' front office – president Rod Wood, executive vice-president of football administration Mike Disner, special assistant Chris Spielman and Hamp.

Holmes obviously scored high early with the group.

"I'm a very big first-impression person," Wood said. "Usually within two or three minutes of every interview, I'd write a quick note to myself – what was my first impression?

"My first impression on Brad was, 'This is the guy.' I think Mike Disner said, 'I quit taking notes.'

"He was the guy. It was pretty great."

The Lions still have to hire a head coach. By all accounts, that isn't likely to take much longer.

Once that's done, the Lions can fill any position that comes open in the coaching staff and personnel department that usually develop with changes at the top of those two vital departments.

Holmes seemed personable and eager to get to work when he spoke to the media, also via Zoom.

He spoke in some detail both Tuesday and in a previous media session about his approach to team building, the traits that he considers important. Passion for football is one that he regards highly.

He is a heavy proponent of technology and analytics, which the Rams have used heavily to build a strong roster.

Holmes also believes in building what he calls a connected team.

"There are certain core values and core traits you look for in players and in teammates," he said in his previous interview. "It's all about the team, regardless of individual accolades.

"It's truly a 22-man game. That's what the connected part means. That's the part where we try to acquire smart, passionate, instinctive, relentless, explosive football players."

Holmes stressed the concept of "buying in," a link between the coaching staff and scouts in acquiring and developing players. That is particularly important to Holmes in developing late-round draft picks and undrafted free agents.

"It's buy-in collaboration," Holmes said. "That's definitely an approach that will be used in Detroit. They're on our football team. They're in our building.

"They have to be developed and coached by our staff – not just for the draft picks, but for the undrafted players. I try not to shove a player on a coach. That's a quick route to failure."

Along with a heavy reliance on technology and analytics in scouting and evaluating players, Holmes regards passion as the most important intangible trait.

"I think the intangibles are the separator of success at this level," he said. "It's very important from my background and my experience up to this level with the Rams. We always made an emphasis in investing in high-intangible football players.

"That is one intangible piece I don't have any margin for error on. Passion for football is extremely important ... probably the utmost important when it comes to intangibles.

"That's something I won't budge on, when it comes to passion for football. That's something the Rams had a lot of success with – something that will be an important piece here at the Lions."

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