After the great find James Houston was last year, the Detroit Lions are doing some pre-draft work on another small school edge rusher this year.
While he transferred from Florida to play for Deion Sanders at Jackson State, James Houston went down as a small school prospect and one heck of a find for the Detroit Lions in the sixth round of the 2022 draft. In seven games as rookie last season, often with low snap counts, Houston had eight sacks.
This year, the Lions are looking deep into the class of edge rusher prospects again. According to Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network, the Lions were among two dozen teams at Stephen F. Austin’s Pro Day. Pauline added they’ve had a top-30 visit with Lumber Jacks’ edge rusher BJ Thompson. The Lions also met privately with Thompson back at the Shrine Bowl in January.
"Shrine Bowl participant BJ Thompson performed well despite suffering from food poisoning and being physically ill before the workout. He measured 243 pounds (after vomiting), up six pounds from his Shrine Bowl weight of 238 and 22 more than his season-ending weight of 221.Thompson measured a shade under 6’5 1/2″ at the Shrine Bowl. He touched 37.5″ in the vertical jump and 10’5″ in the broad, despite jumping into a stiff wind. His 40 times ranged from 4.55 to 4.62 seconds"
Detroit Lions 2023 NFL Draft prospect: Who is BJ Thompson?
Thompson started his college career at Baylor before transferring to Stephen F. Austin in 2020. Over three seasons as a Lumber Jack (h/t to NFL Draft Buzz), he totaled 20 sacks, 91 quarterback pressures and 59 hurries.
Edwards is pretty light, weighing in at 243 pounds at the Pro Day. But the fact he has added so much weight since his final college season ended, over 20 pounds, is a positive. That he showed well athletically despite batting food poisoning on the day of the Pro Day workout, is another positive point in his corner as NFL teams evaluate him. That he even participated in the workout despite being ill is something teams surely noticed too, though as a late-round prospect he needs to take every opportunity he can to showcase himself.
The Lions could add some competition to their edge rusher mix in the draft, and if they take Thompson they could stash him on the practice squad like they did Houston to start last season.