Here are 10 players that should be of special interest to Bob Quinn, Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions at the NFL Combine this week.
MAURICE HURST, DT, MICHIGAN
Area football fans are no strangers to Hurst’s quick-trigger ability as a disruptive interior rusher. And it’s not hard to envision a scenario where the Lions would take him in the first round to fill a major need. But NFL teams will be taking note of some of his combine measurements as they weigh his strength and size – he was listed at 6-foot-2 and 282 pounds as a senior – against their projections for him as a 3-technique in the pro game.
SONY MICHEL, RB, GEORGIA
A deep class of running backs offers plenty of choices if the Lions are seriously looking for help in the draft. And there’s a growing sense that Michel could be this year’s version of Alvin Kamara, even if he comes off the board much earlier. There are questions about his receiving chops – that bears watching during combine and pro-day workouts – but Michel helped his stock with two huge playoff performances to cap his career at Georgia.
HAROLD LANDRY, DE/OLB, BOSTON COLLEGE
The Lions should know if there’s a fit here for a player many view as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Landry is one of the more accomplished edge rushers in this draft, racking up a nation-best 16.5 sacks in 2016 before an ankle injury cost him for much of his senior season. And he spent the last two seasons working with new Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, who was Boston College’s defensive line coach.
ISAIAH WYNN, OL, GEORGIA
He did more than hold his own playing left tackle for the SEC champs this season. But Wynn will shift inside in the NFL, and he impressed scouts with his willingness to do it right away at the Senior Bowl, where he dominated all week and was named the top offensive lineman. He’s a natural athlete with quick feet and strong hands, and his versatility won’t be lost on personnel execs looking for a value pick late in the first round or early on Day 2.
MARCUS DAVENPORT, DE, TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO
There’s a reason Davenport probably won’t be there when the Lions are on the clock. And it’s the same reason they’d likely jump at the chance if he was available. The 6-foot-6, 260-pounder draws favorable comparisons to Ezekiel Ansah as a raw pass-rushing talent. There are questions about how quickly he’ll adapt to a jump in competition from Conference USA, particularly since he rarely lined up in a three-point stance in college. But if he’s as impressive at the combine as he was at the Senior Bowl, he’s a top-15 pick.
BILLY PRICE, C/OG, OHIO STATE
Bob Quinn’s first draft pick in Detroit was Ohio State left tackle Taylor Decker, and that has worked out pretty well. There are some similarities with the Buckeyes’ Billy Price, a consensus All-American who plays with a nasty edge and tied a school record with 55 consecutive starts. He proved to be a dominant run blocker as a senior, anchoring Ohio State’s line at center after spending most of his college career at guard. And scouts view him as a plug-and-play option as a rookie.
TAVEN BRYAN, DT, FLORIDA
Dubbed the “Wyoming Wild Man” when he arrived in Gainesville, Bryan is a rambunctious pocket pusher with terrific athleticism. He won’t be the first defensive tackle off the board, and his struggles in run defense are a concern. But he should test well at the combine and his inside-out ability at 6-4 and 290 pounds may give teams even more reason to think about him as a first-round prospect.
DERRIUS GUICE, RB, LSU
The consensus No. 1 running back in this draft is Penn State’s Saquon Barkley. But there’s plenty of depth – and talent – behind him at the position, and it probably starts with Guice, who led the SEC in rushing last season. He runs with power and violence, but scouts also rave about his vision and contact balance. The question is whether all that’s enough to convince Quinn to use a first-round pick on a running back when there’s value picks still on the board on Day 2.
TIM SETTLE, DT, VIRGINIA TECH
Some team picking in the top half of the first round is going to grab the next Haloti Ngata in Washington’s Vita Vea, a 340-pound marvel who may run a sub-5.0 40 in Indianapolis. But there’s no shame in settling for Virginia Tech’s Tim Settle, a fast-rising prospect who’s only 20 and possesses some of the same skills at that size. A strong showing at the combine could help push him into the first round, but Settle’s going to be hard to miss wherever he ends up.
BRADEN SMITH, OG, AUBURN
Bob Quinn drafted three offensive lineman in his first draft in 2016, but none a year ago as he spent big on Rick Wagner and T.J. Lang. But depending on what happens in this year’s free-agency period, the Lions could be looking for interior help in the early rounds again. And one prospect worth watching is Smith, who started 41 straight games at Auburn and projects as a solid, safe pick on Day 2.