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Two EDGE prospects that could interest Lions at Combine

INDIANAPOLIS – Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes has a lot of options with the 29th pick in the first round of this year's NFL Draft. He has the capital to move up if he wants to with four picks in the top 100. He could move back and gain more assets. Or his board could line up with a prospect at 29 and he makes the selection.

One of the positions the Lions could look to bolster this offseason is along the edge of their defensive line. With quarterbacks and wide receivers expected to dominate the top of the draft, we could see some good defensive players get pushed back in the first round. There's a few edge rushers currently projected to come off the board in the later part of the first round with some intriguing skillsets.

Missouri's Darius Robinson didn't start playing football until his junior year of high school in the Detroit suburb of Canton. He ended up getting a scholarship and over his time at Missouri moved from defensive tackle to edge and played every technique along the defensive line from 0-9.

"Going into my fifth year when I knew I was coming back I decided I wanted to play both positions (defensive tackle and defensive edge) to show my versatility," Robinson said Wednesday at the Combine. "I can play from a zero to a nine (technique). I can do everything."

He said he played a base five technique (tackle's outside shoulder) and played the 4i (tackle's inside shoulder) this past season. The previous year he played three (guard's outside shoulder), 2i (guard's inside shoulder) and zero (face-up on center).

"It's why I say I can play any position," Robinson said. "Just continue to show that I'm the best defensive lineman in the draft."

Playing more outside in 2023, Robinson recorded 8.5 sacks and 14.0 tackles for loss. He was also dominant on the edge at the Senior Bowl. The Lions value players with versatility, and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn moves players around the line all the time in different packages. At 6-foot-5, 286 pounds, Robinson's size and physical attributes make him a really intriguing player.

Another interesting edge prospect is Penn State's Chop Robinson, who could end his week in Indianapolis being one of the big risers because of his athletic traits. At 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, Chop Robinson has drawn some comparisons to Dallas' Micah Parsons in terms of his football traits.

He said Wednesday at the Combine he expects to run the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds, record over an 11-foot broad jump and have a vertical in the 38-to-40-inch range.

"I definitely say my bend," Chop Robinson said when asked what trait besides his speed will stick out to teams. "Being able to dip my shoulders and use my hands and still use my speed."

He also wants to show his speed to power. The big question with Robinson, and one of the reasons he's considered a later pick in the first round, is a lack of sack production. He had 4.0 sacks this season and 5.5 in 2022. He'll be an interesting evaluation coming out of Indy.

What Holmes does in free agency upfront on defense could certainly affect the draft, but there's no such thing as having too many good pass rushers.

Detroit could find some veteran help in free agency and/or some young talent later in the first round or in Day 2 of the draft. It's an intriguing edge class.

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