It’s not any kind of a secret that the Detroit Lions are looking to improve their pass rush with the 2018 NFL draft, but it’s no guarantee they look only to the first two days for help. Whether they draft an edge or interior lineman in the first three rounds or not, the team still has to improve the depth of one of the worst units in the NFL from 2017.
If they go pass rush in the mid to late rounds, it’s possible they look to some home-grown talent in Central Michigan’s Joe Ostman. Lions linebackers coach, Al Golden, met with Ostman the night before his pro day, at which the talented pass rusher far exceeded expectations.
A multi-sport athlete before joining Central Michigan, Ostman was a high school wrestling champion who held a school record for 141 consecutive wins. Like many prospects, he played both offense and defense. He put up prolific stats for his school, with 444 career tackles and 16.0 sacks as a linebacker while posting 76 career receptions for 1,098 yards and 11 touchdowns as a tight end.
Once he became a Chippewa, Ostman saw action immediately as a freshman. He played every game that season as a defensive end and on special teams. His production increased the following season before an injury cut short his 2015 campaign. He would take a medical redshirt and come back hot in 2016 before finishing out his best season in 2017. He would finish his senior campaign with 13.0 sacks, 19.5 tackles for a loss, and 3 forced fumbles.
Ostman possesses a mean spin move, but otherwise isn’t a very technically refined pass rusher. It could be these limitations that caused many to question his athleticism coming into the draft process. At his pro day, he put up fantastic numbers, far exceeding expectations. If those numbers hold up, he will have posted the type of metrics prized by teams, especially if his reported 3-cone time of 7.06 stays.
Ostman is currently projected in the last two rounds, but with a strong draft process so far, it’s possible he jumps into the earlier part of day three. With Al Golden meeting him, it’s likely the team views him as a pass rushing linebacker of sorts, rather than someone who will be putting his hand in the dirt. With a little bit of development and refinement to his game, he could easily become a solid part of the rotation as early as his rookie campaign before setting himself up for a bigger role in the seasons to follow.