The medical testing is completed, the interviews were conducted, and the on-field drills at the NFL Scouting Combine showed us there’s a number of position groups in this upcoming NFL Draft that are chock-full of talent and depth.
“I would say there’s some defensive players in there that are impact type of guys that we’ll see how they fall, they could help us,” Lions head coach Matt Patricia said before the start of the Combine. “I would say in the offensive skill position, whether it’s receiver, tight end, however you want to look at it, there’s definitely some dynamic playmakers out there.”
Patricia was right on all three counts.
All three position groups wowed at the Combine, and it just so happens those are also positions where the Detroit Lions could look to bolster their roster in the draft.
Pass rushers are like cornerbacks, a team can never have too many good ones. For teams looking to add a pass rusher in April’s NFL Draft, they’ve come to the right place because this class is loaded.
Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat made history as he became the fastest defensive lineman at the Combine. Sweat (6-5, 260) ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds, breaking the previous record for a defensive lineman (4.43), set by N.C. State's Emmanuel Lawson in 2006.
Sweat wasn’t the only physical freak at the Combine.
Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary (6-4, 277), who boasted at the Combine that he’s the best player available in this draft, clocked in at 4.58 in the 40.
Also having impressive workouts were: Nick Bosa (Ohio State), Quinnen Williams (Alabama), Brian Burns (Florida State), Josh Allen (Kentucky) and Ed Oliver (Houston).
I expect this class of defensive linemen to dominate the top half of the first round of the draft, but there will be plenty of talent available in Day 2 as well.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn has been very open about the fact that he’d like to add a playmaking tight end, or two, to the roster this offseason. He could accomplish that both via free agency and the draft. While the free agent class of tight ends is rather thin this year, this could be the best tight end group in the draft in more than a decade.
Iowa teammates T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant and Alabama’s Irv Smith Jr. could all be first-round picks. But this tight end class should produce playmakers well into Day 2.
Hockenson is considered the best talent at the position because of his overall game, but Fant put on a show at the Combine, running a 4.50-second 40-yard dash and recording a 37.5-inch vertical.
There were six tight ends in this class that recorded a 40-yard dash under 4.7 seconds – Fant (4.5), Caleb Wilson (4.56), Smith (4.63), Josh Oliver (4.63), Foster Moreau (4.66) and Kahale Warring (4.67).
Fant, Hockenson, Warring, Moreau and Alize Mack recorded a broad jump of at least 10 feet. That’s a drill that tests explosion. None of those players weighs under 250 pounds.
Need a wide receiver? What skill set do you need? This draft is full of playmakers at all sizes and shapes.
Looking for speed? Parris Campbell (Ohio State), Andy Isabella (UMass), Mecole Hardman (Georgia), D.K. Metcalf (Ole Miss), Terry McLaurin (Ohio State), Emanuel Hall (Missouri) and Darius Slayton (Auburn) all ran sub-4.4-seconds in the 40-yard dash. That doesn’t include Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown, who could be the fastest of the bunch, but didn’t run at the Combine due to a foot injury.
Looking for size? There are 12 receivers in this draft measuring over 6-foot-3. Of those, Metcalf (4.33), Myles Boykin (4.42), Jazz Ferguson (4.45) and Hakeem Butler (4.48) also ran the 40 in sub-4.5 seconds.
This is a very deep class of receivers.