The third day of Lions camp was incredibly boring. Despite cooler weather and a nice breeze, the team kept the tempo slower and the focus primarily on fundamentals and run blocking. The fourth day, the team turned up the heat and the drills were far more active and exciting. The tempo was faster and the team was flying all over the field. It wasn’t without mistakes, and, in fact, we saw player after player running laps or doing push ups because they had missed a tackle, dropped a pass, or made some other misstep.
All in all, however, it was an extremely positive day overall so let’s jump into the stock report, noting that this time we’re covering two days instead of one.
Stock Up: T.J. Hockenson, TE
I have been to every practice thus far from beginning to end. TJ Hockenson has not dropped a single catch and has been in tough catch situations. I have also not seen a single bobble from him. He’s going to be so good.— The Respected Madman (@KHMakerD) July 28, 2019
For most of you who have followed along, you know that we tend to be pretty cautious when it comes to rookie tight ends. Even those drafted highly tend to struggle, which is a big part of where the “Never draft a first-round tight end” folks get their ammo. Tasked with learning blocking assignments, pre and post snap motion both for run and pass concepts, running routes, and of course catching the football, few positions come close to the sheer volume of information needed to be learned than tight end.
T.J. Hockenson has lived up to the billing so far and looks fantastic. I have yet to see him drop a pass and there is a strong possibility he is the best route runner in camp (not just at tight end!). The hype train is a rolling, and even our own conservative mindset on the topic may be challenged soon.
Stock Down: Will Harris, SS
After a day off, the Hock Train is back at Allen Park.— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) July 28, 2019
Just had a leaping catch over fellow rookie Will Harris.
While chatting with Brett Whitefield from PFF in camp, he mentioned that in Harris’ report it said that he should be trusted less the further from the line of scrimmage he was. Largely a mental processing issue, Harris struggled when his assignments weren’t simple and that tends to line up with my own evaluation of him as a player.
Harris has serious wheels and can fly all over the field, so I was excited to watch him the past few days. When the opportunity finally presented itself today, I was mostly left wanting. Harris played far off the line, and while not quite as bad as the Browns’ treatment of rookie Jabrill Peppers, that is the closest comp I could find for what they did with him... and how he played. He did have one nice coverage play on Hockenson, but it was mostly pretty bad. While I didn’t see much of him on Day 3, I was told his play was similarly rough.
Stock Up: Mitchell Loewen, DE
Mitchell Loewen continues to impress. Just made a nice play in goal line drills and has a serious shot to make the final roster if he keeps this up.— Alex Reno (@alex_reno) July 28, 2019
If your first question was “Who?” you are probably not alone. On a defensive line that has Da’Shawn Hand, Trey Flowers, Damon Harrison Sr., A’Shawn Robinson and more, a guy like Mitchell Loewen probably wouldn’t stand out. That has certainly changed over the past couple of days.
Loewen started making waves on Day 3, but it was Day 4 that he truly got to shine. There were plays where he put starting left guard Kenny Wiggins right on his backside. Others where he plowed Joe Dahl into the backfield with ease. He even put Taylor Decker on his heels at least once. Ironically, the only time I saw him get stopped was on a goal line drill where he dashed between two lineman only to get blown up by Nick Bawden. For the most part, Loewen won his reps and with expectations so low that is all you can really ask for and more from a reserve defensive lineman.
Stock Down: The Undrafted Free Agents
Nobody has challenged him at all for that spot. Benzschawel is 3rd team behind Wiggins, Aboushi, and Dahl. Pope also 3rd team OT.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) July 27, 2019
Aside from C.J. Moore (more on him later), the undrafted rookies for the Lions in 2019 have really underperformed. Beau Benzschawel has played exclusively with the third team line, alongside other prized UDFA lineman Ryan Pope and Micah St. Andrews. Leo Koloamatangi, another former UDFA that many hoped would take another step looks to have been leapfrogged by Luke Bowanko. The undrafted receivers have been unimpressive, as have Tre Lamar and Malik Carney, who each came in with their fair share of hype. It’s not just that most are not standing out positively, it’s that when they do stand out, it is normally negatively.
Stock Up: C.J. Moore, FS
C.J. Moore, completely unheralded, but hes looked really good and if he can find a role on ST, he is probably in.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) July 28, 2019
Per @PFF_Brett, at Ole Miss in 2017 he ran 173 special teams snaps which was almost all of them.
Covered 60 kicks. https://t.co/as0CtRT5As
If you were looking at the Lions roster and trying to find a position that an undrafted free agent would have the toughest time breaking into, safety would have to either be at or near the top of the list. Yet here we are, a third of the way through camp, and the only undrafted rookie to create some real noise for himself has been a safety out of Ole Miss, C.J. Moore.
Moore had one of the best pass break ups of camp so far, leaping in front of a pass in the back of the end zone intended for Logan Thomas and knocking it to Charles Washington for an interception. Moore continued his strong play today, while also getting some run on special teams, where he also did well. He’s going to give this roster a real run, I think.
Tom Savage, QB: Savage has looked very good in camp for the most part. More than just his arm strength, he’s been routinely accurate on a majority of his passes.
Marvin Jones Jr., WR: Jones has had a quiet camp so far, but he had a strong day Sunday. Most notably, he’s done very well with deep passes, cleanly beating anyone covering him.
Justin Coleman, CB: Though quiet the first few days, Coleman came alive on Sunday. He knocked away several passes and seemingly got better with every play.
Rashaan Melvin, CB: The ‘battle’ for number two CB has been pretty one sided but it wasn’t until the fourth day of camp that Melvin truly put some distance between himself and the other contenders.
Zach Zenner, RB: Zenner took first-team reps while Kerryon was out on Day 3 and kept taking reps on Day 4 along with Johnson and Anderson.
Miles Killebrew, SS: Killebrew hasn’t had a boost in a while, but after upstart Mark Thompson started hitting later in the day it was Killebrew who hit back from the defense.
Jamal Agnew, CB: Agnew is one of the few players still fighting for the returner job and after jumping a pass on Day 3 for a nice pick he continued to look solid on defense Day 4.
Nick Bawden, FB: From a usage standpoint, Bawden took every FB snap with first, second, and third team. He blocked, of course, but also ran the football and caught every target thrown to him.
Tracy Walker, FS: Walker has looked fantastic at times and bounces back immediately from the plays he doesn’t win on. He looks every bit an ascending player.
Mark Thompson, RB: The road for Mark Thompson is an incredibly difficult one to make the roster, but he was making his present felt by putting some big hits on defenders on Sunday.
Eric Lee, DE: Weirdly, Lee has looked quite poor any time I’ve noticed him but the staff seems to favor giving him more and more snaps. That’s a good sign?
Garret Dooley, LB: Not a one hit wonder, Dooley also looked good on Day 4 after a solid Day 3. May have permanently jumped on the depth chart.
Luke Bowanko, OC: The Lions haven’t favored keeping a true center as a backup, but Bowanko quickly took the No. 2 spot at the position and hasn’t relinquished it.
Jesse James, TE: After a few quiet days, Jesse James saw quite a bit more work on Day 4. His role in the offense, as an outlet more than a weapon, appears much more clear.
Travis Fulgham, WR: Though he has struggled, Fulgham had an awesome heads up play when the ball was deflected by a LB but he broke on the ball and caught it anyway, taking it for a nice gain.
David Fales, QB: Fales has struggled in camp, and those struggles continued through Days 3 and 4.
Brandon Powell, WR: I’ve seen some saying he’s been doing well, but I got the opposite impression through both days. After losing a ball in the sun on Saturday, he was off returns on Sunday.
Jermaine Kearse, WR: Kearse has struggled the past few days in camp and looks like he may be losing ground to Andy Jones and Chris Lacy.
Teez Tabor, CB: Tabor didn’t do anything to drop himself on Day 4, but with both Melvin and Coleman ascending, it just solidifies him as, at best, the fourth man in the room, which is a drop for him.
Tavon Wilson, SS: Wilson has been a stalwart defender for the Lions over the past few seasons, but others like Andrew Adams and C.J. Moore seem to be jumping him.
Ty Johnson, RB: Johnson is fine and actually did well on Day 3 and 4. However, based on reps, the departure of Theo Riddick did next to nothing to increase his workload with the team, further cementing his No. 4 RB status.
Amani Oruwariye, CB: Let’s temper expectations a bit. Oruwariye did alright Days 3 and 4, but he sits firmly at fifth or worse on the depth chart at the moment and hasn’t done much to move up yet.
Malik Carney, LB: Carney has not only done little to set himself apart, he seems to be sliding despite a depth chart that has seen strain due to injuries.
Steve Longa, LB: Once a riser, Longa hasn’t been able to find his way onto the field as a full participant yet.
Anthony Pittman, LB: Pittman was always going to be a long shot, but he struggled quite a bit on Day 4.
Graham Glasgow, OG: I have no doubts that Glasgow will remain the starting RG on opening week. Still, he hasn’t repped much there due to whatever it is the Lions are doing to figure out the other spot.
Austin Traylor, TE: Day 3 was alright, but Traylor struggled to catch passes on Day 3. David Fales was throwing, so nothing was on target, but the other tight ends adjusted while he did not.
Isaac Nauta, TE: Nauta’s route running needs a lot of work, and if the Lions are thinking of him possibly playing an H-back role they’ve done little to suggest that’s a possibility.
Da’Shawn Hand, DL: Hand left with what appeared to be an arm injury early in practice and didn’t return. We wait with bated breath for news.
Austin Bryant, DE: Like Hand, Bryant was injured in drills. Unlike Hand, Bryant’s injury was very clearly not just a minor thing as he was down on the field in clear pain with the trainers.