Both Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith and North Carolina linebacker Bruce Carter visited the Detroit Lions earlier this month. The point of both visits was for the Lions to give the potential picks a physical, but Smith's visit also allowed general manager Martin Mayhew to get to know him better. Considering there have been so many questions about Smith's character, this was a good thing for both parties, and Mayhew came away impressed.
"I was impressed," Mayhew said from the league meetings Tuesday. "He was a guy who made some mistakes but who seems to now realize the mistakes that he made. He's a young guy who's very talented. He has a really good skill level, good size and speed and if you look at our corners, we don't have that.
"He's an interesting guy. I have better feel for him as a person now than before he came in."
Mayhew usually isn't this open about anything related to the draft, so it's surprising he was so candid about Smith. Perhaps he said what he said for a reason, such as trying to talk up Smith. Whatever the case, Mayhew stressed that no decisions have been made about if a guy like Smith is even on their draft board, as further evaluation needs to be done first.
Further evaluation for someone like Carter is all based on his health. He is recovering from an ACL injury, which the Lions know all too well about with guys like Brandon Pettigrew and Kevin Smith dealing with the same thing last offseason. Actually, Mayhew compared Carter's recovery to what Pettigrew and Smith went through.
"Talking with our doctors, he is on schedule with his rehab," Mayhew said. "He'd be like where Kevin Smith and Brandon Pettigrew were last year going into camp. If he was with us, (Carter) would be a guy that might start on physically unable to perform list, but he's coming along and moving in the right direction."
There are two main reasons teams aren't inclined to take a risk on someone like Carter: 1) there's no guarantee he will be the same player after recovering from the ACL injury; and 2) if he isn't able to even practice until midway through the season, he likely won't be able to make an impact until his second year at the earliest. Whether or not the Lions think Carter is worth the risk remains to be seen, but as a pick made for their long-term future, the gamble could end up being worth it in a year or two from now if Carter fully recovers without any complications.