2013 Combine: Lions Get a Great Look at Tackle Prospects on Saturday

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 23: Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M takes part in the vertical jump during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 23, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

With the Detroit Lions picking fifth this April, there are plenty of athletes for them to watch this week and a lot of directions they can go with that pick.

One potential scenario has them going after a tackle early on, and it's very likely that either Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel or Central Michigan's Eric Fisher (or maybe both) will be there for them to select.

Both players had great days on Saturday, though I would say Fisher's performance was more noteworthy.

That's not to say Joeckel was bad—just that while he certainly didn't lose any ground, he didn't separate himself either. He was good, not great. He's not nearly as athletic as Fisher or Lane Johnson—who had a standout day himself.

But Joeckel will be that reliable cornerstone tackle teams need to build on, and as (for many analysts) the lead dog here, he should hold the top spot even with an average performance.

Back to Fisher, I really liked how he moved, especially for such a big guy. He flashed a lot of athleticism on the field and just reinforced what I loved about him in Senior Bowl practices.

As for Johnson, he had a ridiculous day, with huge efforts in the 40, vertical and broad jump. The 40 I can take or leave, especially for linemen, though his times for the first 10 and 20 yards were impressive as well.

What really impressed was his ability in the positional drills, where he just about blew everyone else out of the water.

Could Johnson sneak up into that top tackle spot? There's a whole lot of ballgame left, but so far it looks like a guy who was already a sure first-rounder could be a sure top-10 player.

If the Lions were to wait for their second-round pick, there are a few interesting players who stood out Saturday as well.

Everyone is buzzing about a small school prospect from Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Terron Armstead. Armstead tore up the individual drills and looked fantastic in positional drills as well.

He's incredibly raw, but teams will be engaged by his upside and athleticism. More than likely he'll be there in the second, possibly even the third.

I hesitate to get too excited though, as a small school guy like this—you just don't know what you'll get, and even looking at the tape again, the competition won't exactly be the same as what a guy like Joeckel or Johnson saw.

Then again, it doesn't bother me with Fisher, so I don't know if it will (or should) with Armstead.

Another guy who should be around in the second round is Kyle Long from Oregon.

Long was one of several linemen who ran under a five-second 40 (again, for whatever that's worth), showed great explosion in the broad jump and moved very well in the short shuttle. I also like most of what I saw in the positional drills.

He could easily play a right tackle or either guard position, or Long could develop into a solid left tackle. His upside is certainly that, but taking him in the second means there is less pressure to "hit" on the pick.

It's not as if improving anywhere along the line wouldn't be helpful.

Of course, that's just a small sampling. The Lions have a lot of needs and it's really a matter of deciding which needs that first pick.

As you can see from this list, there is plenty of talent to choose from in either the first or second rounds.


**All observations are from watching combine feed unless otherwise specified**

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