Draft season is too long. In the four months between the end of the season and the first round of the draft, hundreds of college prospects are evaluated, praised, torn apart, and reevaluated constantly. Just take a look at what draft analysis were mocking in January compared to now.
Sure, plenty has changed between now and then. The Combine happened, and so did Pro Days. News has come out, which is rarely good, regarding injuries, character issues, and who knows what else. And there have been rumors... there is never a shortage of rumors.
But while all of this information can be helpful in the right context, it also creates this weird environment where what seemed appealing just a few short weeks ago is suddenly repulsive. When you are stuck sitting on your hands for a couple months, it only takes one tweet to start a storm.
The need for this preamble should be obvious. Perhaps no name called during the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft would create a more divisive reaction amidst the Detroit fan base than Michigan Wolverines EDGE Rashan Gary. 99 percent of you already have a formed opinion about the polarizing lineman, but that will not stop me from trying to bring us all together.
It seems like the only way to advocate for Gary is to bat down all of the criticisms against him. Questions about his health, college production, and test-taking ability have mounted by the day, and they all have varying levels of legitimacy. However, almost every single prospect has similar questions coming into the draft, but few have this level of potential.
Gary is an athletic freak, which might somehow be underselling it. Rarely does a player of this caliber come along, and one has to imagine that a defensive coach like Matt Patricia would love the chance to throw him into the fray. While Gary did not post the most impressive numbers in college, his potential is through the roof. If you do not think Patricia is capable of forming him into an absolute monster, then you might as well give up completely on this defense.
What many people overlook is that Gary makes those around him better, which results in lesser individual stats. He can play all over the line—do you think this organization values versatility?—and is strong at both setting the edge and getting into the backfield. With his athletic traits, it is not often that he will be overmatched.
Yes, Gary has room to grow, but just imagine him for a second with a coaching staff that knows how to both scheme and develop. If he were wearing any other college colors, it would be clear how can’t-miss of a prospect he is. The Lions are one piece away from one of the top defensive lines in the entire league. Gary is exactly the player to take Detroit to that level.