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Why sixth-round pick Wingo plays with a chip on his shoulder

Most draft analysts predicted defensive lineman Mekhi Wingo would hear his named called late in Day 2 or early in Day 3 of last month's NFL Draft, but it wasn't until pick 189 in the sixth round that Wingo got the call form Detroit that he was going to be a Lion.

Despite a productive career as a versatile defensive lineman at both Missouri and LSU in the SEC, Wingo (6-0, 291) is convinced his size was the reason for his fall.

"I kind of fell in the draft a little bit but I fell into the perfect situation," Wingo said. "I always play with that chip on my shoulder. I'm a six-foot defensive tackle. You got to have it, or it isn't going to be fun for you out there. Just continue to do what I do give it my all and go hard."

Wingo had a great line after being drafted when he said he has to do the ordinary things extraordinary because of his size at the position he plays. He's used that as motivation his entire football career.

"I've always been overlooked from the high school level, college level," he said after the draft. "But now that I finally have this opportunity, I'm just ready to make an impact the best way that I can for the team."

The Lions see Wingo in a versatile role playing both inside and outside. We saw him more inside during the open portion of rookie minicamp, but Lions GM Brad Holmes said after the draft Wingo's pass-rush ability really stood out to him on tape and they'll cross-train him to play across the defensive line.

Wingo's quickness, strong hands and leverage allowed him to win more than he lost at the college level, and he and the Lions are hoping that translates to this level. He didn't seem out of place inside during rookie minicamp, but how will it look once Frank Ragnow, Kevin Zeitler and Graham Glasgow get their hands on him in training camp? It's part of the reason why he's such an interesting prospect.

View photos from offseason workouts on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.

Wingo said the plan is to put his head down, learn from run game coordinator and defensive line coach Terrell Williams and the veterans, and use his quick first step and powerful frame to his advantage.

"I just have to use my quickness," he said. "Obviously, I'm an undersized guy so everything I do has to be that much better. My hand placement and my eyes just all the things of that nature.

"I have to do everything at the next level where maybe a guy who is bigger wouldn't have to. That's just what I'm focused on, getting better every day."

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