Fans eagerly anticipating the Detroit Lions draft choices often focus on the bigger-name prospects in the first couple of rounds. Yet the draft goes seven rounds, and Bob Quinn and his staff have focused quite a bit of attention on the later-round prospects and potential undrafted free agent signees.
Here are six of them that are confirmed to have met with the Lions and figure to be strong candidates to help defend the den.
Alex Huettel, OL, Bowling Green
The Lions met with the versatile Bowling Green lineman at the Shrine Game in January, where Huettel was one of the more impressive athletes along the lines. His ability to quickly get out in space and engage targets showed his exceptional range on plays like this from the actual game:
That athleticism showed at his pro day, where the 6’3.5”, 304 pound guard put up 33 bench press reps and showed off a 31/5” vertical. The Lions are intrigued enough they also met with him in early April.
A guard by trade, Huettel started 55 games for one of the MAC’s top programs. When I talked to him at the Shrine Game, he indicated a willingness and capability to play center, and his quickness, intelligence and strength certainly portend a transition to the pivot. That makes him a viable candidate for the Lions in the sixth or seventh rounds.
Shaneil Jenkins, DE, Shepherd
As I first reported, Lions DL Coach Kris Kocurek went to West Virginia to meet with the 6’4”, 284-pound standout. Jenkins lived in opposing backfields for the D-II runner up Rams, racking up 13.5 sacks and recording more than half of his 43 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Here’s an interview with Chris Shanafelt of NFL Draft Bible where the confident Jenkins talks about his game. Want explosive athleticism? How about a 33.5” vertical, 9’11” broad jump and a 4.83 40-yard dash at Shepherd’s pro day at his impressive size.
He has the long build and powerful presence that fits right in with Ziggy Ansah and Devin Taylor. Jenkins is a definite Detroit option as early as the fifth round.
With the First Pick
Orion Jones, DT, Toledo
Sources have indicated the Lions have worked out Jones, a 6’2”, 300-pound interior disruptor. And the key figure there is the 300 pounds, because the knock scouts have had on Jones is that he was undersized for a 3-technique playing at about 285 for the Rockets.
His game is built on quickness, and he’s got very fast and powerful hands to seize leverage and get free from blocking. Jones bagged 6 sacks in both his junior and season seasons, with 22 total TFLs. The fact he’s still got his quickness and technical skills while adding the desired bulk gives Jones a real shot to make the Lions, or another NFL team, as a seventh-round pick or undrafted free agent.
Mike Jordan, CB, Missouri Western
A Shrine Game week standout, Jordan met with the entire Lions contingency in St. Pete and has also worked out for the team. Jordan himself confirmed this to me.
He’s a big corner who thrives on pressing and using his 6’1” length and strong shoulders and hands to disrupt receivers off the line. What will help Jordan make the jump from the D-II level to the NFL is his ability to flip his hips and transition out of breaks.
Jordan has experience playing zone as well, and he has even dabbled at safety and proved a reliable tackler. He created 16 total takeaways for the Griffons, though when I asked him what his biggest weakness was he quickly replied, “I need to catch the ball better”.
Because of his poor timed speed (4.61), Jordan is unlikely to be drafted above the seventh round. The Lions could still pounce, as he has a lot to offer as a versatile football player.
Jay Lee, WR, Baylor
Lions fans are clamoring for another size/speed option at wideout to either push Corey Fuller or outright replace him. Baylor’s Jay Lee certainly fits that bill.
Lee doesn’t have the blazing jets (he ran 4.51 at his pro day) but his Baylor game film shows a guy who could stretch the sidelines and get behind the defense. He also impressed at the Senior Bowl with his precision on routes and ability to string together moves. The 6’1”, 214-pound caught Bleacher Report’s attention in Mobile:
"Jay Lee (6’1 7/10″, 214 pounds, Baylor) hauled in many short passes in both 7-on-7 and full-squad drills, demonstrating tight, sudden cuts and sure hands on a choppy field with a wet football."
That’s not something we saw in college, where he ran a very limited route tree in Baylor’s simplistic offense. Lee doesn’t catch the ball cleanly, often trapping it against his pads while securing it, and he must learn to use his size more. While he’s the same basic size as Laquon Treadwell, he doesn’t show anywhere near the kind of physicality off the line or as a blocker. He’s a seventh-rounder or undrafted candidate.
Ryan O’Malley, TE, Penn
I have only caught highlight reels of O’Malley, but he turned some heads at Temple’s pro day and has definitely caught the Lions attention.
That’s a video scouting report on the 6’6”, 265-pounder who caught 20 passes as a senior, courtesy of my good friend Emory Hunt at Football Gameplan.
Impress your friends on draft weekend by knowing who these players are when one or more of them become the newest members of the Detroit Lions.