Dan Campbell: Lions wanted talented and athletic football players, not great athletes who play football

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Nobody would ever accuse the Detroit Lions draft class of 2021 of being unathletic. It’s one of the most prodigiously athletic groups in the league and in team history based on testing measurables. But the Lions coveted more than just great athletes.

In his interview this week on Sirius XM NFL Radio’s “Moving the Chains” program, Campbell laid out the Lions vision for what they wanted in players.

“We felt like it was important to really, really identify these guys that we felt like can change or create a culture around here that embodies who we are and what we’re about.”

Campbell continued with some clarity,

“Find football players that really believe in the way we believe and are cut from the same cloth. We felt that was important. We really wanted to focus on football players that have talent, not talented athletes that maybe can develop into football players. We wanted to kind of stay away from that.”

It’s a step away from the school of thought that takes risks on outstanding athletes who aren’t necessarily great football players coming out of college. It might seem like an insignificant point, but focusing on better players whose passion is football and who happen to also be tremendous athletes is clearly a different path than taking an uber-athletic player who hasn’t accomplished a lot on the gridiron or needs years of technical work on his game.

That Campbell and the Lions were able to land players with excellent football skills who also happen to be dynamic athletes for their position is a good indication of how the new regime in Detroit wants to rebuild the team.

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