The Detroit Lions welcomed in the first of their 30 pre-draft visitors today and it is Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter.
Weight: 196 lbs.
Arm Length: 33 1/4″
Hands: 9 3/8″
40-Yd Dash: 4.44 sec
Vert Jump: 39.5″
Broad Jump: 136″
20-Yd Shuttle: 4.33 sec
It’s clear the Lions front office doesn’t have any sensitive feelings regarding Detroit Lions-wide receiver jokes. Martin Mayhew has taken at least one wide receiver in every draft since taking over in 2009. No one should be surprised if that streak continues considering Mayhew has publicly stated his love of wide receivers and the need for an outside threat to play opposite Calvin Johnson while Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles work from the slot.
So, the question is, will Justin Hunter be the guy? We shouldn’t read too much into the fact that Hunter is visiting the team because there really hasn’t been much (or any) correlation between players that visited the Lions and the players actually taken by the Lions. Also consider that teams can bring in up to 30 prospects for visits but they will draft far fewer. The Lions currently have six draft picks with the possibility of adding up to two more when compensatory selections are awarded.
Hunter was explosive early in his career at Tennessee before tearing his ACL as a sophomore. He returned to put together a solid junior season but didn’t show the same level of physical gifts. That’s probably not surprising considering the injury and those fears may have been put to rest after Hunter turned in a fine performance at the combine. It is possible that was enough to get him back in the discussion as a late first round pick, and likely the Lions would start looking at him in the second round if they are truly interested.
Beyond simply getting more comfortable on his healed knee, Hunter will need to add some bulk and become more physical to fulfill his potential at the next level. Scouting reports knock him for drops or “alligator arms” over the middle, a trait not as evident earlier in his career. That may have been a manifestation of the linger mental effects of the knee injury but it is another area teams will have to consider during the draft process.
One last interesting tidbit: the Hunter’s NFL.com Combine profile lists former Lions wide receiver Roy Williams for his NFL comparison. Do with that what you’d like.