Expect the Lions to be very selective in the draft process
When is the “best player available” not necessarily the best player for the Detroit Lions to draft? Based on what Lions GM Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell said during the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, that could very well be with every single selection.
The Lions are looking for the best possible Lions player, and that isn’t always going to match up with what the big boards on ESPN or the NFL Network are saying at the time. That’s by design. This Lions team is going to keep doing things their way, and that’s been working with the influx of impressive young talent that helped key the 8-2 finish in 2022.
What exactly are the Lions looking for?
Campbell is no stranger to being incredibly competitive and intense. He’s at the combine trying to find prospects cut from that same cloth.
“Yeah, it’s hard to put into words,” Campbell explained in his press conference. “I would say this, we’ve, I don’t know how many guys we’ve met with at this point. Really over these two to three days, let’s call it 30 guys, 35 guys, and I’ve check-marked four guys. And to me, they’ve got the ‘it’ factor. Just when you sit in there and you hear them talk about football, there’s a fire burning in them. They can’t sit in their seat. They got to get up to talk, they’ve got to tell you what’s going on. This is how I think. This is what I’m — and that, you can’t fake that.”
“When you have that, you love ball. And you’ll eat and breathe it and do anything for it, do anything for your teammates. You’re uber-competitive. You watch the guys that you present them this mini-install before they get to the tape and taking notes, asking questions, and then, man, when you go, they throw the sheet down because to them it’s a competition. I’m about to show you how good I can do this. I’m about to show you what I can retain. I’m gonna show you that I understand what you’re wanting me to do and those guys are rare. If you can find those guys and they’ve got some ability, which most guys here do, it’s hard not to like them.”
Football character is terribly important to this Lions team. Athletic ability is too, but those hands need to come together to earn Campbell’s approval.
Holmes echoed his head coach.
“Our strategy’s always been, you know, we’re gonna pick the best football player that fits us,” Holmes said. “We’ve always taken that approach. That approach has worked so far. I guess you could say that is, the best player available for us, but we’re always going to get guys that fit our culture. We talk about finding the right guys, drafting the right guys.”
Holmes added, “same approach with free agency.”
Lions head coach Dan Campbell had a great quote about evaluating players at the NFL Scouting Combine