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4 Detroit Lions UDFAs to watch at rookie minicamp

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Here are four undrafted rookies to keep an eye on during minicamp.

Bowling Green v Miami Ohio Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions won’t have outside media present during this weekend’s rookie minicamp. For the past few years, the Lions have prevented media from interviewing their rookie class during the three-day event, and this year they went even further by locking out press from practice—of which they usually have very limited access (around 10 minutes last year).

So, sadly, there aren’t any Lions rookies we can literally “watch” during minicamp this weekend. Still, there are some notable names to keep in mind during this offseason workout and the ones to come. Here are four such notable UDFAs.

CB Mike Ford, Southeast Missouri State

A good way to tell how interested the Lions are in an undrafted rookie is by following the numbers, and as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes, Ford received a $20,000 base salary and a $7,500 signing bonus—the highest figures among the UFDA class thus far (among reported contracts).

Ford had a team-high 14 pass breakups in his senior year, after shifting from receiver to cornerback two years prior. He’s a pure athlete:

The Lions don’t have a huge need at cornerback right now, but if Ford can provide some special teams value and show some long-term potential, he could sneak his way onto the roster or at the very least make a practice squad appearance in 2018.

LB Chad Meredith, Southeast Missouri State

Ford’s teammate at Southeast Missouri, Meredith, theoretically has an easier path to the Lions’ roster. Detroit has been continually overhauling their linebacking corps this offseason, yet failed to draft one this year.

In 2016, Meredith was named first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference after racking up 86 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks. The official Southeast Missouri website lists Meredith at 6-foot-4, 244 pounds (last updated July 2017), which is almost identical size to the kind of linebackers Matt Patricia brought in (Christian Jones is 6-foot-3, 244; Devon Kennard is 6-foot-4, 256).

Meredith’s production suggests he could be a pass-rushing option as an outside linebacker in 3-4 looks, but he’ll have a long ways to go before Detroit would feel comfortable putting him in the lineup.

TE DeAndre Goolsby, Florida

Of the Lions’ top three tight ends on the roster, only one (Michael Roberts) is signed for more than one year. That could leave the opportunity for Goolsby to stick around, at the very least, as a practice squad member.

Goolsby had a disappointing 2017 season after hauling in 38 catches for 342 yards and three touchdowns in his junior year. He only started two games last year, despite appearing in all 11 games. As a result, he only caught 13 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown.

While Goolsby’s size is average, at best, at 6-foot-4, 239 pounds, Goolsby put up some pretty impressive agility scores at his Pro Day. He wouldn’t be much of a blocking threat, but if the Lions are looking for a receiving tight end that could potentially develop into a contributor, Goolsby could be their man. They also gave him a $7,000 salary guarantee, which is on the upper end of the UDFA scale.

WR Teo Redding, Bowling Green

While the Lions’ top four receiver spots are pretty much locked up already, Detroit’s depth beyond that is filled with a bunch of unproven talent, leaving an opportunity for a younger, cheaper option to take over a spot on the practice squad. Players like Jace Billingsley, Bradley Marquez and Dontez Ford have been hanging around, but have yet to take the next step.

Redding brings solid speed and athleticism and a pretty impressive progression in college production. Here’s a look at his four years at Bowling Green:

2014 (7 games): 5 catches, 59 yards
2015 (12 games): 13 catches, 222 yards, 3 TDs
2016 (12 games, 8 starts): 31 catches, 423 yards, 3 TDs
2017 (11 games, 10 starts): 45 catches, 624 yards, 8 TDs

Redding won’t beat NFL cornerback with his size (6-foot-1) alone, but his impressive 38.5-inch vertical suggest he can leap with the best of them. Additionally, his eight touchdowns are evidence of his red-zone appeal.