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Lions Draft Q&A: Can Jeremiah Ledbetter overcome consistency issues and compete for a roster spot?

Arkansas Fight teaches us about the Lions’ sixth-round pick.

NCAA Football: Belk Bowl-Arkansas vs Virginia Tech Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Unsealed, on a porch a letter sat.
Then you said, "I wanna leave it again "
Once I saw her on a beach of weathered sand
And on the sand I wanna leave her again.

Sorry, don’t mind me. Every time I see Jeremiah Ledbetter’s name, I’m reminded of the Pearl Jam song Yellow Ledbetter, and a girl I once knew on Gordon street.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time for me to travel back to the one state that I’ve ever had a warrant out for my arrest in. I didn't do anything wrong. I just got distracted and forgot to fax my insurance information. Luckily, the fine people of West Memphis, Arkansas allowed me to take care of everything over the phone. But yeah, I’m a bad boy so...

After spending time in Tennessee learning about Jalen Reeves-Maybin, I hopped in the rental Ford Fiesta and headed down the road to Fayetteville, Arkansas. At Razorback Stadium, I met a man with a name that I hoped on everything isn’t just a nickname. Ladies and gentlemen, I present Doc Harper of Arkansas Fight. Here’s what Doc taught me about new Detroit Lions defensive tackle, and sixth-round draft pick, Jeremiah Ledbetter.

POD: What are your thoughts on Ledbetter’s time in Arkansas?

AF: “He was one of Arkansas' better defensive players from the time he arrived on campus. He was a junior college transfer so he was only in Fayetteville for two years, but he started from his first game. He was a defensive end as a junior and mostly a defensive tackle as a senior. He's one of those we wish we could have had him for another year because he kept getting better. The bowl game was probably his best game as a Razorback.”

POD: What are his strengths?

AF: “He's a great athlete. He was able to be effective both at end and at tackle, though he seemed to have more success at tackle. He showed flashes of brilliance at times. No major injuries.”

POD: What are his weaknesses?

AF: “Probably inconsistency. He could be great one week and disappear the next. You always felt like he should have been more productive than he was, although to be fair he did lead the team in sacks last year.”

POD: Does Ledbetter have what it takes to start in the NFL? Or will be a guy that will specialize in rotation?

AF: “I wouldn't rule out him starting at some point. I've always thought he was very talented. I don't see him starting as a rookie, but if he keeps working and developing, I wouldn't rule much out.”

My Thoughts

Many Lions fans were hoping for a pass rusher on the defensive line. When the dust settled, the Lions found themselves with just two defensive lineman. Of the two, Ledbetter has a better shot of getting some playing time in 2017 over seventh-round selection Pat O’Connor. But in the end, Ledbetter is project.

What concerns me is the talk of inconsistency. While he did lead the Razorbacks in sacks, the Lions can’t afford to have another Nick Fairley or Shaun Rogers. They don’t need a player that takes plays off, regardless of his performance on the plays he doesn’t take off.

What makes me optimistic is Ledbetter’s ability and athleticism to play both defensive tackle and defensive end, though it appears the Lions have already made their decision on what they plan to do with him.

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