Brad Holmes acknowledged obvious challenge in scouting Mathieu Betts

The Lions are hoping Mathieu Betts can come in and impact their pass rush, but Brad Holmes acknowledged the challenge in evaluating the CFL edge rusher.

Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

In search of pass rush help coming off a season where it was Aidan Hutchinson, Alim McNeill and little else, the Detroit Lions signed edge rusher Mathieu Betts back in February. The reigning CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player made a visit to Allen Park in December, and he was signed to a traditional free agent deal rather than a futures contract.

Betts signed with the Lions for no guaranteed money, despite having other at least one other NFL offer that included guaranteed money. He cited the overall fit in Detroit as the reason for that decision, in a bit of a bet on himself.

Betts wasn't able to stick all the way to the 2019 season with the Chicago Bears and an undrafted rookie, so he went back home to Canada to play in the CFL. After a couple non-descript seasons with the Edmonton franchise, he had seven sacks for the BC Lions in 2022. Then last season he really took off, leading the CFL with 18 sacks in 18 games on his way to the aforementioned Outstanding Defensive Player award.

Brad Holmes discussed challenge of scouting Mathieu Betts

There are players have left the CFL and has success in the NFL. But there are natural concerns for NFL evaluators about level of competition. At the league meetings last week, Lions' general manager Brad Holmes discussed the challenge of making a viable evaluation of Betts' prospects as an NFL player.

"Obviously had a lot of production and but you look at the competition and it’s not the same as what he’s going to be facing at this level,” Holmes said. “So you got to keep that in mind as well, with all the production he has.”

That being said, Holmes also acknowledged a big part of what drew the Lions to Betts.

"The thing about him is that, man, that guy plays hard. He plays like how we want to play and obviously with all that production, let’s go just take a shot and see where it goes,” Holmes said. “You’ve got to look at the level of competition, it’s just different, but that’s not any different than a small school guy coming out in the draft.”

On the rather simple front of having to dig a little deeper in the evaluation of Betts, Holmes hinted at...unique methods the Lions used.

"You’ve got to really do your work. We’ve gone through some exercises, and I don’t even want to get into the details, but we’ve got through some exercises that you’d probably call us pretty crazy,” Holmes said. “There’s a way where you can find the answers to the test and get your questions answered, but you’ve got to really dive deep.”

One way or many others, the Lions clearly were happy with what they found out about Betts and how his CFL production might translate to the NFL. He definitely has an opportunity to earn a roster spot, with Marcus Davenport the only addition to the edge rusher mix to this point and multiple players departing (Julian Okwara, Romeo Okwara, likely Charles Harris).


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