Lions GM Brad Holmes: Trade talk has cooled with No. 2 pick
Allen Park — Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes met with the media on Thursday, one week ahead of the first round of the NFL Draft, to discuss the upcoming event. Here were the highlights:
► At the league meetings last month, Holmes noted he had some preliminary discussions about trading out of the No. 2 pick. Instead of those talks picking up in recent weeks, the lines of communication have gone relatively quiet.
"Actually, there hasn’t been a whole lot (of conversation) since the last time we spoke down at the annual meetings," Holmes said. "I actually had a few dialogues before then, but not a whole lot. I do say that I think heading into this week and the early portion of next week, I do think there’s a possibility for some more chatter and some more dialogue could increase. But right now, there hasn’t been a whole lot."
► The lack of interest isn't particularly surprising given the lack of elite talent, particularly at the quarterback position, at the top of this draft. That said, at this stage in the process, talks would be more likely to pick up the day before or day of the event.
As you would expect, Holmes and his staff feel fully prepared for all scenarios in those early stages, whether it's staying put at No. 2 or moving back several spots if the right trade offer does come along.
“Well, anything can happen at any day, I will say that," Holmes said. "But it’s not just narrowing it down to your top two. You better have your top five, you better have your top 10 in place, because you just don’t know what’s going to happen each day. We do have it narrowed down, and we feel confident where we’re at with how we have it pared down. We’ll just let the process unfold.”
► Repeatedly since taking the general manager job last offseason, both Holmes and coach Dan Campbell have placed an emphasis on building the roster with the right kind of people. That's been described as gritty, hard-working players capable of powering through adversity.
Holmes was asked how he weighed grit against talent, particularly in the earliest stages of the draft.
"We’re very fortunate to have a coaching staff in place that has a passion to develop players," Holmes said. "They’re very, very good and there have been countless examples of that coming to fruition. From a talent versus football character standpoint, you do have to be careful. You have to make sure, OK, just because a guy is talented doesn’t mean he has the football character required. Will he reach his potential? Will he be coachable enough so the coaches can develop that player?’ You’ve got to be mindful of that.
"It is the NFL. You do have to have a baseline of talent. But obviously, it can work the other way, too, if the talent is not quite to the elite level, but the football character is high. That player has it in their power to make sure they reach their potential."
► Loosely, that is the debate around Kayvon Thibodeaux, the talented Oregon edge rusher who is immensely talented but has been accused of having a me-first attitude. He remains in play at No. 2, as does Georgia's Travon Walker.
There's not a football character debate with Walker, nor any questions about his athletic profile. The 6-foot-5, 272-pounder had one of the best overall performances at this year's scouting combine. No, the concern with Walker is the glaring lack of college production, which included only 9½ sacks in 36 games.
Again, Holmes pointed to confidence in the coaching staff when weighing that factor.
"You can’t ignore production, but you’ve also got to look at those critical factors of the actual player," Holmes said. "Is he doing everything in his power, does he have the skill set, does he have the traits to do certain things? Does he have the football character? There’s a lot of different factors that can come in that can project to more production when they get into the NFL. How were they used in their scheme in college versus what our scheme is going to be? There’s a lot of different factors that go into that, but you definitely can’t ignore the actual production because that’s real (and) factual.
"I have the utmost confidence in our coaching staff. Like I said, we’re very fortunate and we’re very blessed to get into position to have a coaching staff that has a passion of developing, and the proof’s in the pudding. It’s proven. They’ve actually done it. So, it gives you a lot of optimism.”
► With talks currently cooled around trading down from the No. 2 pick, don't expect the Lions to pursue the opposite course of action and swing a deal with Jacksonville for the No. 1 choice.
"It’s like I always say, if we have that conviction on that player, and it’s like, look, it just makes sense, we feel like we need to go get that player, we’ll go get that player," Holmes said. "That’s not always the case, sometimes you don’t feel like you need (to). It’s not shunning down on that actual player. Sometimes it’s just like, ‘Hey, look, we feel pretty good where we’re at.’ We feel good about this cluster of players that I talked to you about a little bit earlier. We’ve got them graded pretty evenly, so we’ll be in good shape. It was very similar to the Penei (Sewell) situation last year.”
► Holmes declined to offer any details on how cornerback Jeff Okudah (Achilles), defensive end Romeo Okwara (Achilles) and cornerback Jerry Jacobs (ACL) were recovering from last year's season-ending injuries, other than noting each was making positive progress.