Lions draft board '95-percent done'

The Detroit News
Todd Gurley

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew addressed a number of topics is his pre-NFL draft press conference on Friday. Here are excerpts:

On the Lions' draft board: "I would say it's about 95-percent done. I mean, there's still some guys that we're taking a look at. ... I meet with our ownership next week, but it's pretty much set."

On this draft class and the Lions' needs: "It certainly is a strong draft in some of the areas that we might be looking in, but, you never know how it's going to fall. There could be a lot of guys that go early that we'd like to have. One thing that I've learned about this process is it's very unpredictable. We'll be ready for every alternative."

On players with problem backgrounds: "There are situations where there are a few guys that I may describe to our ownership group and with Tom Lewand and Jim (Caldwell) and we'll talk about their individual situation. I think it's difficult to just put guys in categories and say, 'This guy is a DUI guy or this guy is a drug guy or this guy is whatever.' I think you have to talk about every person's individual situation and where they are in that process."

On how many first-round grades he has on players: "I think it's a pretty strong draft, I think it's a pretty deep draft. There are a lot of quality players. I think there are some positions that are pretty thin, you know, obviously the quarterback position. There aren't a whole lot of quarterbacks, not a whole lot of tight ends. That's probably a good thing for us, so I think it's a pretty strong draft across the board."

On weighing injured players in his evaluations: "I will sort of equate it to the character situation in that every individual player should be evaluated on his own merits. I wouldn't just say, 'This guy had an Achilles tear so he's off our board.' You know, where is he in that process? How long ago was that? How did he perform last year? Who did his surgery? How is he in the rehab process?"

On Georgia RB Todd Gurley: "From a talent standpoint he's an outstanding prospect without question. I spent some time with him. I know people down in Georgia who have done a lot of research on him. He's a great kid. Obviously, he has an injury that we have to evaluate."

On not finding offensive playmakers outside of the first round: "Well, I would consider Joique Bell to be an offensive playmaker. He's a pretty good player. I think Theo Riddick's also a pretty good player for us."

On if it's harder to find offensive playmakers outside of the first round: "I don't think so. I think this draft is very deep at receiver, very deep at running back. So, I think on this draft in particular, it's really strong in those skill position areas."

On the biggest difference between drafting at No. 10 compared to No. 23: "I think 10 is somewhat more predictable in terms of what's going to happen. You know, last year, that was one of the most unpredictable first 10 picks in a long time, because you have Jacksonville taking a quarterback, which people did not anticipate. But in the first 10, you can figure out really 10 quality players that you think will be taken. At 23, we start to stretch it a little bit. It's hard to figure out who's going to be there at 23."

James Ihedigbo

On safety James Ihedigbo missing voluntary workouts: "These workouts are voluntary. I look forward to talking with James. I understand what he's going through. I've been through that myself as a player when I felt like at a time in my career that I was underpaid and had to deal with that. So, I have empathy for him and understand what he's going through. I have great respect for him as a player, as a man. I've got to know him a little bit away from football and I understand how he feels."

On immediate needs on the offensive line: "It's a very strong group of linemen (in the draft), especially at guard and tackle. So, a lot of quality, a lot of different guys, guys with some position flexibility, which we like."

On prioritizing an offensive lineman who can be versatile: "I've always said that versatility within that group is very important. You're only going to dress seven guys, so if a guy can play center and guard, a guy can play guard and tackle, it certainly gives him a lot more value."

On how much time he spends analyzing the first round compared to the later rounds: "Well, the first-round pick obviously is greatly important for your franchise. I would say probably about 50-percent of my time goes into that player. The 50-percent goes into probably the first two rounds, then 50-percent on three on down probably. When we get back in the fifth and sixth round, I'm really relying on our scouts, our area scout, our college director, our national guys, coaching staff, who spend time with some of these guys."

On how his expectations for first-round picks have changed over the years: "I aspire to draft a guy in the first round, second round, third round as guys that are going to be here for their whole career. It doesn't always happen in that way, so I anticipate whoever we take in the first round, that's the guy that I want to be here for a long period of time."

On evaluating the personal character of draft picks: "I just think the research on those guys is greatly important and the sources that you talk to and where you get your information and if you trust the information that you end up getting. So, we try to make sure that the information that we get on guys is accurate, up to date and we get multiple sources."

Matthew Stafford

On DeAndre Levy's wing walking and Matthew Stafford's skydiving: "Yeah, so far it's been telling them after they've already done it, but yeah, I think we need to work on that a little bit and keep our feet on the ground and stay safe. With DeAndre I was not surprised at all, but I think that's something that we just need to be aware of because it's not a big deal until something bad happens, right? I saw a picture and that was all I needed to see. I'd rather them just not do that. I don't want them doing that."

On if he considers there to be seven 'core' positions in football: "I don't really follow that philosophy. I think there are probably 11 core positions on both sides of the ball. You can't be weak anywhere. These coordinators and these coaches are too good. They'll find out where you're weak and they will exploit that. I think it's important to be strong across the board. It's important to have depth."

On if signing guard Rob Sims is still a possibility: "We've had some discussion with Rob. I really don't know the answer to that. I spoke to his agent probably about three weeks ago and we had an offer out to him. That's kind of where we are right now. We'll have to kind of wait and see what happens."

On if the defensive line can still be a strength this season: "Sure, it has to be. I think we want to be strong up front on both sides of the ball. Offensive line and defensive line have to be strengths of this team, so we're focused on making that happen."

On this year's draft talent on the defensive line: "Very deep. Very deep at defensive tackle especially. There are some quality defensive ends also. There are some guys down in the mid rounds I think that can come in and perform well on the D-line."

On if he has started talks with DT Haloti Ngata regarding a contract extension: "I wouldn't say so. I mean, I think they know that we have an interest in doing something and I think that we know they have an interest in doing something. But he just got here for the offseason program. We're letting him get comfortable and get situated. At some point we'll start that dialogue."

On releasing guard Rodney Austin: "I found out that he had a domestic violence incident last Thursday. So if there was some speculation about when I found that out, it was last Thursday. I wanted to sit down and talk to him about that. I talked to him and decided the best thing for us to do was move on from him. I told him, 'Hey, I have not closed the door on bringing you back.' But until he gets his legal issues resolved, I thought the best thing for us to do as a franchise was to move on."

On if he feels pressure in his position from year to year: "I don't concern myself with my job security at all. I never really give that much thought, but I always am striving to work as hard as I can to get the job done and not have to worry about that."