The NFL Scouting Combine is over. The players have ran and jumped and had medicals and taken Wonderlics. The stats are now there for us to look over. Is it as important as game performance? No, but the numbers are relevant. Just ask Manti Te’o after his 40-yard dash. While what the Lions do in free agency will impact their draft plans, I thought I’d look at how Combine performance may impact their decisions, and look at some players they might target. First up, the offensive side of the ball. By which I mean, running backs and wide receivers.
I am only concerned about players who may be available late in the Draft. If Detroit takes a wide receiver before the fourth round, or a running back before the sixth round, I will be disappointed. Quite frankly, they might as well wait to add a running back as an undrafted free agent.
For running backs, all I am really concerned about is their Speed Score. Speed Score, to put it simply, correlates a running back’s 40-yard dash time to their weight. Obviously, a big dude who can run fast is more intriguing than your water bug type players. While I encourage you to read the article I linked to, the top two players in terms of Speed Score this year are both potential late round guys, and both of them are guys I’d be glad to see the Lions take late. The player with the best score is Arkansas’ Knile Davis, who was far and away the best, as he ran a 4.37 at 227 pounds.
Davis is an intriguing player. He was excellent his sophomore year in 2010, missed his entire 2011 season with an ankle injury, and was hindered by injury this season. That’s the reason why he may end up going late. Additionally, there’s a history of guys with high speed scores having injury concerns. However, the Lions wouldn’t be looking to have Davis shoulder the load. He’d be part of a committee involving Mikel Leshoure, Joique Bell, and perhaps Jahvid Best. All the Lions would need from him is 8-10 touches a game probably. I think he can handle that. The other back that interests me is Miami’s Mike James, who has had a good offseason at bowls and the Combine.
As for wide receivers, the Lions could use a speedy guy, a possession guy, or even a big guy. Any type of wide out could help. The top 40 for a wide receiver, and for any player this year, was 4.27 by Texas’ Marquise Goodwin. Goodwin is an Olympic quality athlete (literally), but he’s more athlete than football player. Still, he could be worth a shot. A couple of other Texas-based wide receivers had good performances at the Combine. Texas A&M’s Ryan Swope was a nice surprise, and TCU’s Josh Boyce did well also. Boyce had a very good 40 time, and he was also second in the bench press. Hey, some strength is nice.
In jumping interests you, another name that leaps out is Da’Rick Rogers. Rogers was at Tennessee Tech last season, but he started his college career at regular Tennessee. However, he ran into some issues there and ended up in the FCS. Might the Lions be gun shy when it comes to a player with a character concern? Or might they take the risk on Rogers? Maybe they can really go all in and take Tyrann Mathieu too.
The good thing about the wide receiver and running back positions is that they are almost always supremely deep when it comes to the NFL Draft, which is part of the reason I don’t feel taking one early is necessary or, in Detroit’s case, a good idea. The Lions can wait until late and still get a couple of skill position players to help the team in 2013, while they spend their early picks on defense.