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TWENTYMAN: Why pro days are an important part of the pre-draft process

With the NFL Scouting Combine in the books, NFL teams now shift their attention to the various pro days all over the country at college campuses. One of the first pro days on the schedule is at Auburn University today.

Expect representatives from the Lions to have a close eye on Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown, who could be in the conversation for the Lions with their first pick in next month's draft. Brown is considered the best interior defensive lineman in the draft, and that's currently a position of need for Detroit ahead of the start of free agency later this month.

Edge rusher Marlon Davidson, who had one of the more memorable quotes at the Combine, is another player who could interest the Lions.

"(What) I love most about the game that I can literally go out there and hit a man consistently and pound him, and the police not come," Davidson said. "That is the most enjoyable moment about ball, to just go out there and really abuse somebody, and they won't say nothing about it in the press or anything. I ain't on no headlines, in handcuffs, no mugshots, no nothing. I'm out here just physically abusing my man."

Davidson, who could be available early in Day 2, is expected to finish some of the testing at Auburn's pro day he didn't do at the Combine, like the vertical jump and broad jump.

These pro days are an important step for teams because it gives them another piece of the overall scouting puzzle. Players have an opportunity to improve on some testing from the combine, or in some cases, test for the first time in front of scouts, coaches and front office personnel.

Players like edge rusher Chase Young (Ohio State), quarterback Joe Burrow (LSU), defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina), linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson (LSU), defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State), linebacker Terrell Lewis (Alabama) and running back J.K. Dobbins (Ohio State), all potential first-round picks, didn't take part in testing at the Combine, choosing instead to test at their pro days.

LSU's pro day will be a hot event on April 3. They sent 16 players to the Combine. Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winner and potential No. 1 overall pick, will throw for teams for the first time. The Cincinnati Bengals, who have the top pick in the draft, will no-doubt have a close eye on that workout.

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is expected to hold his own pro day April 9 if he gets clearance from his doctors. That workout will have an impact on the top of the draft.

The pro days are another chance for teams to meet with players and crunch more numbers as they continue to build an overall profile on the prospects. It's another important step in the overall pre-draft process.

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