Lions defensive line coach excited by Mekhi Wingo's early development

Mekhi Wingo immediately looked like a potential draft steal, and Lions defensive line coach Terrell Williams is impressed with what he's seen so far.

If Mehki Wingo was blessed with NFL scout would consider ideal size for an interior defensive lineman, he would surely have been taken before the sixth round (pick No. 189) of April's draft. But alas, he's just 6-foot tall and 284 pounds (per NFL Combine measurements). He also missed the end of last season at LSU with a lower body injury.

Wingo is a defensive tackle by trade, but right after the draft Lions general manager Brad Holmes lauded the versatility he brings to the table.

"The role? I originally had looked at him as purely a defensive tackle that was going to be playing inside. When I kept watching him, his rushing ability really started to come to light. I kind of put him in a separate box. A little bit like when we talked about (Josh) Paschal coming out. He's got a lot of stuff on tape as an edge rusher."

Wingo's lack of size and his overall skill set also invites comparisons to Aaron Donald, who Holmes was involved in scouting for the Los Angeles Rams.

Terrell Williams is impressed with what Mekhi Wingo has shown so far

Wingo could push for a significant immediate role on the Lions' defensive line. Defensive line coach Terrell Williams doesn't want to entertain lofty comparisons to future Hall of Famers, but he has been impressed with Wingo's work so far.

“I don’t want to really compare him, make comparisons because we start thinking that this player should be like that player. The one thing that I’ll say is that he’s an explosive player that understands what his limits are and he also understands what he can use to his advantages," Williams said. "He’s an explosive guy that has extremely quick hands. He can rush the passer and I believe he’ll be a good run defender for us. I’m excited, where we got him and what he’s been able to do so far, I’m super excited about that player.” 

Williams also noted Wingo's versatility.

"Inside and outside. That’s simply put because, again, when you have guys that have position flex, it makes it tougher on offenses because they don’t always know where those guys are gonna align. He’s done a good job so far and he’s really advanced for a rookie as far as just understanding how to use his hands and pad level and how to rush and where to rush....We’ve been excited with his development so far.” 

Time will tell, perhaps quickly, if the Lions have gotten another draft steal in Wingo. But he has apparently gotten right to proving he deserves a chance to see the field a lot right away.


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