We’ve covered several position groups for each Lions pick earlier, but this one covers a broader spectrum. Here are 10 players that the Lions could be targeting with their 6th or 7th round picks, or perhaps as priority free agents signed right after the draft concludes Saturday night. I tried to exclude some other names I’ve mentioned before, among them Cooper Taylor, Brandan Bishop, LaAdrian Waddle, Lanear Sampson, John Youboty, and Stansly Maponga.
Nathan Stanley, QB, SE Louisiana: When I was sitting in the stands during the first Shrine Game practice, Lions GM Martin Mayhew was sitting two rows in front of me. Stanley clearly had his attention and he asked a scout with him what he knew. What he saw was a tall, hard-throwing, surprisingly mobile quarterback with spotty accuracy and touch issues. He is mechanically sound but doesn’t have great anticipation to his throws. He’s kind of the anti-Kellen Moore, and that could make for an interesting stylistic camp competition for the 3rd QB role.
Onterio McCalebb, RB/RS, Auburn: The Lions have enough interest to have brought the tiny Tiger in for an official pre-draft visit. McCalebb is blazing fast in a straight line and offers a lot more potential as a return man than a running back. In the weigh-in line at the Senior Bowl he looked comically out of place, and he missed the week after tweaking a leg injury in the first half of the first practice. Needless to say, durability is an issue. Speed is not; he’s broken 4.3 in the 40 several times and it translates to the open field. He could immediately fill the Stefan Logan role in the offense and has better potential as a return man than the visionless Logan showed the last two years.
Ryan Griffin, TE, UConn: Griffin is more of a supersized wideout than a traditional tight end, but that is exactly what the Lions ask of their TE opposite Brandon Pettigrew. He’s got great length and soft hands, and he can get himself open against a zone. His blocking steadily improved as well, though he’s really lacking in the strength department. Griffin is a legit late-round sleeper who has a realistic chance to make the team and contribute some as a rookie. Tight end is not much of a need for the Lions but he could fit as the BPA with one of their 7th rounders.
Vinston Painter, T, Virginia Tech: If you’re looking for a raw prospect with excellent athletic upside as a tackle, Vince Painter is your guy. He has the ideal build for the position at 6’4”, 306 very fit pounds with long arms and huge hands. The Hokies never really found the right spot for him, as he played DT, guard and finally right tackle as a senior. I know an area scout from the region who believes Painter is a late bloomer as a football player and could wind up being a very good starter once he gets more experience and confidence under his belt. If he lasts to the 6th round–and he might not–expect the Lions to have some interest, but he won’t see the field as a rookie.
Travis Long, DE, Washington State: In Darren Page’s 7-round mock draft, Long was his choice for Mr. Irrelevant, the final pick of the draft. Long lined up all over the formation for the Cougars but his best shot in the NFL is as a base defensive end. Think of a bigger Zach Follett with better spatial and field awareness but less controversial of a persona. He’s a depth player whose effort and intelligence make him a good candidate to stick as a special teams ace, but he’s not an explosive athlete and struggles to use his hands effectively. Long has fan favorite written all over him.
Anthony McCloud, DT, Florida State: McCloud is a widebody with very good initial quickness and strength…which he cannot sustain longer than one step or beyond initial contact on a consistent basis. I like his hands and his ability to sink his pads and anchor as a 1-technique, and he has a good eye for the ball. If his conditioning can improve, McCloud could make a functional reserve tackle as a 7th round pick or UDFA.
Meshak Williams, LB, Kansas State: He’s eminently redundant with Ronnell Lewis, a big-hitting hybrid DE/OLB (read: too slow to play LB, too weak to play DE) from a conference where he faced mano-a-mano matchups against offensive tackles on islands. His workout numbers are truly awful, unable to break 5 seconds in the 40 and putting up just 14 reps on the bench, but he played both faster and a little stronger than that. Williams jumped off the tape against both West Virginia and Oregon, two fast-paced offenses. Likely a priority free agent as those measurables are simply undraftable.
Latavius Murray, RB, Central Florida: Another one of the Lions pre-draft visits, Murray is brimming with intrigue. He’s almost 6’3”, 220, and he ran a flat 4.4 in his workout. Murray put up decent production in C-USA, but when I watched him against USM and Ball State he showed very little vision or creativity as a runner. What stands out, and where I think the Lions have interest, is his ability to catch the ball. Murray has fantastic hands and shows better feet as a route runner than an actual runner. He’s big enough to play as a move/flex TE or H-back type and has the receiving acumen to pull it off. Murray is a candidate for the later 7th round pick but projects more as a priority free agent.
Adam Reploge, DT, Indiana: Frequent readers note my affinity for DL Coach Kris Kocurek and his nonstop, profane, demonstrative coaching style. If Kocurek was still playing, and it wasn’t all that long ago he was a late-round pick of the Packers out of Texas Tech, he would be Adam Reploge. A feisty, frantic rolling ball of hammers that can be seen chasing after every play even if he wouldn’t get to the ball until the offense is in the next huddle, Reploge has an insane motor. He also has excellent base strength and the ability to shed blocks with his hands. I can see the Lions throwing Kocurek a bone like Reploge to mold into a player who gets into the lineup when Fairley slides outside, something I think we’ll see more of in the future.
Rod Sweeting, CB, Georgia Tech: He meets the size/speed designs the Lions have for their corners at a hair under 6’ and a legit 4.41 40 time. Sweeting’s game actually reminds me of a more polished but slightly less fast-twitch Jonte Green. If the play is in front of him, Sweeting is fine, but he is a sucker for double moves and doesn’t anticipate well. There is developmental potential here, and coaches had positive things to say about Rod Sweeting during and after Shrine Game week, where he looked decent.