With 'Mike Tyson hands,' Terrell Lewis could be intriguing for Lions in second round

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Mobile, Ala. — While it's still a few months away, with the way things are trending, we can logically conclude the Detroit Lions aren't likely to have a shot at drafting Ohio State defensive end Chase Young with the No. 3 pick.

Barring a team falling in love with Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and paying the premium to trade up to the No. 2 pick to take him, the most likely scenario remains Washington staying in that spot and taking Young.

Alabama linebacker Terrell Lewis could help the Lions' pass-rushing needs.

And if Young isn't there, the Lions are going to need to find edge-rushing help elsewhere. The team can't afford go into the 2020 season with the same cast coming off the edge that produced awful pressure numbers a year ago. 

Assuming the Lions don't break the bank a second straight year in free agency on an edge defender, it means they'll likely need to look beyond the first round of the draft. Enter Alabama's Terrell Lewis, a high-risk, high-reward option who could be a solution if he makes it to Detroit in the second round. 

Although he's on the opposite squad, the Lions are getting an up-close look at Lewis while coaching at the Senior Bowl this week. 

"I read all your guys' stuff, everyone is into player comps," Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy said. "Terrell Lewis is almost impossible to give a player comp for because he's got that long, stringy body, but then he's got like Mike Tyson hands.

More: Following Lions' Matt Patricia during first Senior Bowl practice

"Those long guys can't generate power well and this guy is so explosive. He's just been banged up a bunch. 

"A couple years ago I was (at Alabama) in the spring and Jonah Williams — who went what, 11 last year to Cincinnati — and one of my friends on the staff was like, 'We've got nobody that can block this dude, including Jonah."

Lewis looks the part of an NFL edge rusher. He measured in at 6-foot-5, 258 pounds with arms longer than 34 inches. And he produced in the most talent-rich conference in college football as a senior, generating pressure on the quarterback one out of every 5.4 pass-rush snaps. 

Nagy sees top-15 talent and Lewis takes it a step further, saying he believes he's one of the five best players in this draft class. But there are the injuries. And it's a problematic issue. Lewis missed 25 games over two seasons, tearing an elbow ligament in the season opener in 2017 and his ACL during an offseason workout the following year. 

Lewis said teams have been asking him how his body feels now and he has no issues to report. They want to know if he'll be able to handle the rigors of the NFL, a concern he understands and is doing the best to quell, explaining how his injuries have taught him how to better maintain his body, through smarter, not harder workouts and better eating.

In his four years at the helm, Lions general manager Bob Quinn has been conservative with his early-round draft picks, a strategy that has netted similarly conservative returns. With a mandate to contend for the playoffs this year, it might justify taking a risk on a high-ceiling prospect like Lewis. 

More: Lions defensive coordinator Cory Undlin is well-versed in multiple schemes

At the Senior Bowl, beyond durability, Lewis is eager to showcase his mind. He sees himself as a cerebral player and doesn't want to have a reputation for skating by on his athleticism. He wants to let teams inside his thought process, explaining his reasoning for the way he does things on the field. 

Another selling point is his versatility, something the Lions have valued from defensive players coming out of Alabama. Lewis confidently says he's comfortable rushing from the edge, either standing up or with his hand in the dirt, sliding inside on passing downs or dropping into coverage as an off-the-ball linebacker. 

Lewis said he doesn't model his game after one player, which probably contributes to Nagy's inability to identify a comparison. Instead, the young defender attempts to draw inspiration from a number of players, past and present, whether that's late safety Sean Taylor's hard-hitting mindset, or the way the similarly framed Cardinals defensive end Chandler Jones utilizes his length. 

"I'm like a sponge because I'm so versatile," Lewis said. "I like to take things from every player I seek interest in."

Jones, who has tallied double-digit sacks each of the past five seasons, is an intriguing mention because of his ties to Lions coach Matt Patricia, who served as Jones defensive coordinator his first four seasons. 

Lewis and the South team will take on the Patricia led North team 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at Ladd-Pebbles stadium.


Twitter: @Justin_Rogers