Now that Day 2 is in the book. What are your thoughts on your favorite team's draft so far? As for the Lions, here's my thoughts with scouting reports that I've broke down extensively on the three prospects that the Lions drafted.
- Size: 6'5" 270 lbs DE, Protypical DE size
- Outstanding athlete. Showed burst, quickness and outstanding closing speed
- Strength: When he get proper leverage/pad level, he absolutely dominates at POA. Does a good job of converting speed into power.
- Instinct: For a guy who played such a short amount of time, he has outstanding instincts. Always know what to do which is a great sign as he gain more experience in football
- Run Stuffer: Has size/athleticism/strength/instincts to be an elite run stopper. Ton of tackles and tackle for loss to show for it
- Versatility: Played at DE, DT, NT and OLB at BYU but lined up mostly at 1, 3 and 5 tech at BYU. Very compentent in a lot of things but master of none (except maybe against the run where he showed elite skill set).
- Intelligence: Pick things up quickly in a short span. Blank canvas.
- Experience: He is inexperienced but not raw. Two totally different meanings. He showed good techniques and pick things up quickly.
- Pad Level: He has a tendency to stand straight up off the snap thus losing leverage. Once he learns how to lower his pad level, he'd be nearly unblockable.
- Hand usages: He showed flashes of it, but often hand fight against OL instead of disengage blocks quickly.
- Pass Rush Productivity: 4.5 sacks in his senior season. However, JPP and Aldon Smith also had 4.5 sacks in their final year at college. A cause for concern? Yes, but may not be a big deal considering both are outstanding pass rushers in the NFL.
There is a reason why he is a highly regarded prospect in the NFL circles. He has tools that you cannot teach like size/athleticism/strength/instincts. A classic Boom/Bust prospect. Needs work on pad level/leverage and hand usages. Both are coachable traits. He couldn't have come into a perfect team as a prospect because the Lions have two of the best DL coaches in the league in Kocurek and Washburn, and they have Suh and Fairley to draw OL attention so Ziggy can have freedom to work one on one. As inexperienced Ziggy is as a player, he pick things up quickly and apply it on the field. He gets more freedom at DE in wide 9 scheme where the Lions can tell him to go after the QB which is scary once he figures it all out. I believe that he is closer to a boom prospect than a bust prospect for the reasons I stated above. The Lions had to take the best talent available since the top 3 OTs plus Dion Jordan are gone before #5 overall pick. Despite the perception that he is not ready to start, he is ready to start at Day 1. If the Senior Bowl game is any indication, Lions fans should be extremely happy with the pick. He fills the talent and needs in which the Lions desperately need help at DE especially on pass rush.
Pro Comparison: Bruce Smith
- Size: Tall CB (6’) with a good body, not frail unlike his ex-teammate, Johnathan Banks. Long arm to lock up WRs at LOS
- Athleticism: Ran 4.36 at the combine, explosive corner who can run with WRs step for step
- Physicality: Very physical corner who is adept at press man coverage. Willing to come up and tackle at the boundry
- Ball Tracking: Does a great job of turning his head around to locate the ball
- Return Skills: Very good returner. Have ran back for a TD via INT twice
- Coverage: Displayed smooth backpedal, transition out of back pedal quickly and run with WRs
- Run: For a physical corner, he struggles to get off blocks. Has a tendency to dive and swipe at ball carrier’s legs.
- Off-Man Coverage: As athletically gifted Slay is, he tends to give up too much cushion on off-man coverage. Needs to get tighter in the next level or WRs will eat him alive
- Diagnosis: He is sometimes a bit slow to diagnose plays and come up a beat too late. That is a direct result of lack of playing time experience.
- Injury: Has knee injury (meniscus tear), but not as big of a deal as ligament injuries
Darius Slay fits the profile of big, physical and athletic CB that Mayhew/Schwartz covet after trying to trade up for a couple years to get Patrick Peterson, Stephon Gilmore, Dre Kirkpatrick, etc. He will start immediately at #2 CB opposite Chris Houston. The cornerback unit is now the strength of the defense with Bentley, Green, Greenwood and Bartell manning up at CBs. The Lions have 4 legit starting CBs in Houston, Slay, Green and Bentley. Like Ziggy, Slay only played football for 5 years, but he outshined over his more hyped/highly touted teammate, Jonathan Banks. Last season, opposing QBs tried to avoid Banks and pick on Slay, but Slay more than held on his own. Slay possess a 1st round talent, but is inexperienced. 2nd round is exactly where he is supposed to be drafted. Mayhew/Schwartz liked him enough to make the pick immediately at #36 overall.
- Size: Massive OG with thick lower body. Long arm at 34”
- Strength: Once he locks on you, it’s pretty much over especially on running plays. Rarely get pushed back due to strong anchor
- Run Blocking: Dominant in-line blocker who wins his battles with size/strength/length.
- Well Rounded: Very solid in pass protection and a dominant run blocker
- Mobility: For a big guy, he has light feet and can run. Kentucky asked him to pull, kick out, trap and lead runner through the hole.
- Intangible/Character: 4 year starter at Kentucky who was a captain in his SR year. No known character issue.
- Weight: Has a tendency to get bigger. Ballooned to 350 lbs. Needs to be at 320 to be effective.
- Hand punch: For a guy in his size/strength, he has a soft hand punch. Needs to be aggressive to jolt defender upright
- Quickness off the stance: Relates back to weight. When he’s heavy, he is slow to get off the stance and build momentum slowly.
- Athleticism: Poor combine workout and will never wow you in shorts.
- Blocking in space: He struggles to readjust to moving targets once he gains momentum
- Techniques: Plays with poor techniques. Has a bad habit of getting off high. Waistbender who tends to lean onto the target instead of attacking the defenders
The Lions got a great value at 3rd round in Warford. Warford, IMO, is an early 2nd round talent, but due to the interior OL runs at mid-1st round, it pushes Warford down into 3rd round where the Lions happily take him at 3rd round. He will start at RG, replacing Stephen Peterman. Warford is a mauler with nimble feet. I expect the Lions to use him a lot in running game. Weight is a concern so the coaching and training staff has to be on top of Warford. Warford is at his best at 310-320 lbs instead of 330-350 lbs. He is basically Warmack-lite in terms of ability/talent level. Warford will be a 10 year starter for the Lions which is a good new because Stafford struggled with perceived and actual pressure up in the middle.
Overall Impression of the draft:
I loved what Mayhew/Schwartz have done in this draft. Given the top 4 picks have played out, they picked the right player in Ziggy Ansah. Off all the team, Lions is a perfect fit/situation for Ziggy because of DL coaches and Suh/Fairley commanding OL’s attention. Slay fills the talent as well as team need in bolstering the talent and depth of the secondary. The secondary is now one of the stronger unit on the team. Warford is a steal at 3rd round and would be an instant starter at RG for years to come. With day 3 draft coming up, I am hoping the Lions can come away with a #2 starting WR which strangely still have a lot of quality WRs left on board like Quinton Patton, Chris Harper, Da’Rick Rogers, etc. They do need another DE to bolster depth because Willie Young and Ronnel Lewis are depth players at best. Quanterus Smith is recovering from ACL injury but when healthy is one of the better pass rusher in the draft. He would be a nice value at 4th/5th round. They could take a chance at Xavier Nixon who has the talent to be a quality starting LT in the NFL, but biggest question is focus and consistency. If lights ever come one for Nixon, he could be a steal.