Detroit Lions Draft Stock Watch: 8 Players Rising and Falling on Detroit's Board
The Detroit Lions front office is busily finalizing its draft board for the 2014 NFL draft in May. The scouting department is moving players up and down the board based on pro day results, private workouts and intense debate in the draft room.
As more and more information gets introduced and implemented, general manager Martin Mayhew presides over ranking the players.
In the process, some players will rise up. Others will fall, with the movement in either direction based on a variety of factors. Among the reasons for mobility:
- Unexpected workout results
- Injury issues
- Comparative study within a position
- Narrower focus on specific traits and desires
- Team interviews and private workouts
So who is moving up, and who is sliding down? Here are a few players moving in one direction or another...
All 2014 NFL Combine results are courtesy of NFL.com. You can follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffRisdon.
Stock Up: Davante Adams
Fresno State wide receiver Davante Adams led the nation in receptions in 2013, hauling in an astonishing 131 receptions in 13 games. He finished 24 of those catches with trips to the end zone (h/t CFB Stats).
Despite those eye-popping numbers, Adams often got lost in the shuffle of a very deep, diversely talented wideout class. His combine experience did not help, as he measured in shorter than expected at 6'1" and ran a pedestrian 4.56 in the 40-yard dash.
Adams needed a strong pro day, and he delivered.
At Fresno State's workout on March 20, an event attended by the Lions, Adams answered some of the questions about his speed. He shaved almost a full tenth of a second off his 40 time, as noted by Robert Kuwada of the Fresno Bee:
Running at Bulldog Stadium in front of scouts, coaches and executives from at least 23 NFL teams he ran the 40 in 4.47 and 4.50 seconds, which could move him up in a draft class that is full of receivers who, like Adams, are taking an early entry into the draft.
Those speed numbers are more in line with what shows on game film. Adams is a powerfully built wideout who caught a lot of balls in traffic, so having that sort of speed serves as gravy.
Detroit Lions Draft noted these positive feathers in Adams' cap, too:
can explode off the line and eat up cushion quickly…has run a wide variety of routes and brings experience playing both outside and in the slot…shows some grit and elusiveness after the catch…
Adams figures to be in consideration for Detroit's second-round pick at No. 45 overall.
Stock Down: Marqise Lee
Heading into the 2013 season, USC wide receiver Marqise Lee sat atop many a preseason positional draft board.
Matt Miller laid out some valid reasons why in the above video, notably his route running and open-field ability.
Yet Lee struggled through a tough campaign. Some of that is attributable to a knee injury that dogged him for most of the season, highlighted in this informative piece from Arash Markazi of ESPN. He also had some ugly drops that reflected concentration lapses with the ball in the air.
As Sigmund Bloom of Football Guys nicely articulated, there are factors at work against Lee.
I loved Marqise Lee after 2012 season, but between his flaws on tape in 2013 and depth of both WR and overall class, hard to see him in 1st— Sigmund Bloom (@SigmundBloom) February 23, 2014
The depth at wideout that Bloom references makes it highly doubtful the Lions consider Lee a viable option at No. 10 overall. Since it's extremely unlikely that he falls all the way to Detroit's second-round pick, Lee's fading stock appears a poor match for the Lions.
However, it's worth noting that the player referenced as his best comparison, Keenan Allen, had an eerily similar sort of injury-plagued final collegiate season that watered down his draft stock. Chargers fans are mighty happy for that, as he led all rookie wideouts in receptions, yards and touchdowns.
Stock Up: Weston Richburg
Colorado State center Weston Richburg is a prospect many Lions fans have openly coveted throughout the draft process. A stellar Senior Bowl week and reviews like that from Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com helped launch him into their collective consciousness.
The Lions themselves have definitely taken note, too. Senior personnel executive Brian Xanders traveled to Fort Collins to investigate Richburg at his pro day:
Need to correct myself on a tweet from the other week. Brian Xanders hit pro days at Colorado & Colorado State to see CSU C Weston Richburg— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) March 24, 2014
Brandt also offered this incredible vote of confidence, stating "if a team is looking for the next Alex Mack, Richburg is that guy. He’ll be your starting center for the next 10 years."
It's worth noting that Richburg weighed in at 304, which is up from his 298 pounds at the combine. Weighing under 300 pounds is a flag for many teams, but Richburg erased that doubt.
With venerable veteran Dominic Raiola very near the end of his longtime run as Detroit's center, it behooves the Lions to strongly consider Richburg in the third round...if he lasts that long.
Stock Down: Taylor Lewan
Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan is a great example of draft stock volatility.
After a torrid combine performance, Lewan was widely viewed as one of the biggest winners of that annual event. His awesome athletic display led none other than vaunted draft guru Gil Brandt of NFL.com to opine that Lewan should be a consideration for the No. 1 overall pick.
Alas, every rose does indeed have its thorn. For the Wolverine, it's a poisonous one.
Lewan, who already had some questionable off-field issues (detailed by Ace Williams of Chat Sports), now faces arraignment on April 8 for assault charges stemming from the wake of Michigan's heartbreaking loss to Ohio State.
As Kyle Feldscher of MLive first reported:
Online records from the 15th District Court in Ann Arbor show Lewan is scheduled for arraignment at 9 a.m. April 8. He is to be charged with one count of aggravated assault and two counts of assault or assault and battery.
That's awful timing for the All-American tackle. Facing serious charges exactly one month before the draft is not exactly a great way to elevate draft stock or answer questions about character issues.
Given the Lions' rather inglorious history with problem children (Nick Fairley, Aaron Berry, Titus Young, Johnny Culbreath), it's hard to envision Mayhew taking a shine to Lewan. Thanks to ESPN for the rap sheets on those law-breaking Lions.
Stock Up: Ed Reynolds
Even though Detroit finally signed James Ihedigbo (analyzed here by Kyle Meinke of MLive), the Lions still figure to be in the draft market for a young safety to groom.
Stanford's Ed Reynolds is firmly on their list.
As noted by Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle:
No doubt those explosive athletic feats will be a major topic of discussion when the rangy safety meets with Detroit.
Those numbers offer hope for a higher upside than his inconsistent game tape might indicate. Ian Wharton nailed Reynolds in his Bleacher Report profile, noting his poor angles and weak play recognition.
A strong pro day likely elevated Reynolds into stronger consideration for the Lions. Without the athleticism on display at Stanford, he stood a far lower chance of making the cut in a densely populated middle-round safety population.
Stock Down: Calvin Pryor
One of the more buzzed-about defensive players in the 2014 NFL draft is Louisville safety Calvin Pryor. The underclassman is a major-league thumper on the back end.
Almost every glowing description of Pryor has involved his size. Folks were enamored with his official listing on Louisville's roster as 6'2" and 208 pounds. That is the optimal size for today's NFL safety.
Unfortunately, that listing was an egregious exaggeration. Pryor measured in at just 5'11", and that takes away a lot of what made him appear so much better than players like Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward or even Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. In fact, Pryor is smaller than Clinton-Dix, who measured in at 6'1" and 207.
While Pryor likely remains a first-round selection, it's a lot harder to see the Lions selecting him at No. 10.
Between the aforementioned Ihedigbo signing and the presence of Glover Quin, who incidentally has the exact same measurements as Pryor, spending a premium pick on a safety who doesn't quite match the hype doesn't add up.
On the contrary, it might actually elevate Clinton-Dix's profile into stronger consideration. He now looks more appealing by comparison.
Stock Up: Larry Webster
The Lions have a knack for drafting later-round prospects they bring in for private workouts. As noted by Mike O'Hara of the Lions official website, "the Lions want to meet with players they have a reasonable chance to draft in all seven rounds – and sometimes beyond."
O'Hara goes on to note that in 2013, Detroit brought in Michael Williams and LaAdrian Waddle, two players they hosted for private workouts.
One late-round prospect for this year they've already met with is Bloomsburg defensive end Larry Webster.
Lions say Bloomsburg DE Larry Webster on a predraft visit today. Tall, fast and raw.— Carlos Monarrez (@cmonarrez) March 20, 2014
Monarrez, a Lions beat reporter for the Detroit Free Press, is right on all three counts. Webster stands 6'6" and blazed a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash at the combine. That's moving for a big man.
Alas, he's also quite raw. From the Shrine Game notes at NFL Draft Tracker, "Larry Webster is really awkward, light and unphysical." My own take from that week was a little more harsh...
“@cmonarrez: Lions say Bloomsburg DE Larry Webster on a predraft visit today. Tall, fast and raw.”--was easily worst player at Shrine Week— Jeff Risdon (@JeffRisdon) March 20, 2014
Webster demonstrated very little football ability that entire week, but there is certainly some tantalizing athleticism to work with. The Lions must see that, and gambling on athletic potential is not a bad way to go in the late rounds.
Stock Down: Cyrus Kouandjio
Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio was a first-round fixture in just about every mock draft, even as late as Halloween.
Unfortunately, worries about his balky knees have spooked NFL teams.
As Dr. Dave Siebert of Bleacher Report details in an excellent piece:
Articular cartilage damage can lead to arthritis, characterized by chronic pain and inflammation within the knee. In later stages, pain and swelling can become significant enough to limit the knee's strength and range of motion.
As if that wasn't scary enough, Siebert follows that up with this ominous factoid: "...every single snap will place further wear and tear on his apparently already-ailing knee."
With offensive tackle already one of the deepest positions on the roster, featuring young starters Riley Reiff and LaAdrian Waddle backed up by competent veteran Corey Hilliard, it's difficult to envision the Lions taking such a risk on a player they don't really need.
In addition to the medical concerns, Kouandjio didn't exactly set the combine on fire with his on-field prowess either...
Back from combine workout. Bills scout commented earlier, "Cyrus Kouandjio say goodbye to round one"...sluggish, slow & totally unprepared.— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) February 22, 2014
That should be more than enough to convince Mayhew to look elsewhere in the second or even third rounds, which appears more of the range where the one-time top-10 fixture appears headed.
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