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NFL Combine preview: Interior DL the Lions should watch

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One of the biggest perceived strengths coming into 2019 was ultimately one of the biggest weaknesses for the Detroit Lions; it’s time to fix that.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 12 South Carolina at Georgia

In the beginning of the 2019 season, the Detroit Lions defensive line was viewed as one of the strongest positions on the team. Damon Harrison Sr. was playing exceptional football, Da’Shawn Hand was an ascending rookie coming into his second year, and A’Shawn Robinson was playing as good as ever. 2019 fell apart quickly for the unit and now Harrison faces retirement, Robinson free agency, and Hand spent most of the season injured. The unit needs an injection of talent immediately and the 2020 Combine offers the team an opportunity to get a close look at who will be available in the upcoming NFL Draft.

All Combine Previews:
Quarterback | Running Back | Wide Receiver | Tight End | Offensive Tackle | Interior Offensive Line | Interior Defensive Line | Edge Rusher | Linebacker | Cornerback | Safety

Note: All RAS links will be updated during and after the Combine with official and tentative metrics. This will continue throughout the draft season.

Derrick Brown, Auburn

Derrick Brown RAS

ESPN High School Recruiting Scouting ReportWhat's On Draft | The Draft Network | DraftWire | DraftTek | NFL Mocks | With the First Pick | Side Lion Report | Tankathon | This player is a prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. All metrics that have been recorded are unofficial if the metric is highlighted in...

An elite run defender who exhibits top-tier athletic traits on tape, Brown is an explosive interior threat and a load to handle for interior lineman tasked with blocking him. Powerful hands and control of leverage makes him a chore for blockers and difficult to account for as the game wears on. Incredibly explosive lower body makes his first step one of the most dangerous in this class and when combined with how well he uses his hands and technique to win, it’s no surprise he’s considered a top-ten player. Leans a bit too much on the bull rush in the passing game, a trait that can be exploited fairly easily by NFL offensive coaches—think early career Ndamukong Suh in that regard.

Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina

Javon Kinlaw RAS

Scouting ReportWhat's On Draft | The Draft Network | DraftTek | NFL Mocks | With the First Pick | Tankathon | Draftwire | This player is a prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. All metrics that have been recorded are unofficial if the metric is highlighted in yellow.

A refined pass rusher able to use a multitude of moves to get after the quarterback, Kinlaw is a top-tier athlete on tape as well. Serious concerns about his lack of college production—only 17.0 TFL over his entire college career, about half of Derrick Brown—will probably dominate interviews for teams at the Combine. A wild card of a risk for any team that takes him, Kinlaw’s upside is easily the best in this class, but the chance that he never gets there is significant enough to give pause for evaluators. There’s a lot of projection to his game, but there’s All-Pro potential here.

Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M

Justin Madubuike RAS

Scouting ReportsThe Draft Network | With the First Pick | Tankathon | NFL Draft Geek | Draftblaster | Cover 1 | This player is a prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. All metrics that have been recorded are unofficial if the metric is highlighted in yellow.

Displays natural athletic traits on tape, and the Combine could be the spark that pushes Madubuike even further up draft boards. A versatile player who can play multiple spots along the defensive line, Madubuike fits cleanly in the Detroit Lions defense in a similar vein to how the Lions used A’Shawn Robinson. Madubuike is a powerful player with promising traits to develop, but it may take a higher pick than most expect now to be able to secure that talent.

Leki Fotu, Utah

Leki Fotu RAS

Scouting ReportWhat's On Draft | The Draft Network | NFL Mocks | With the First Pick | Matt Waldman | Steelers Depot | This player is a prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. All metrics that have been recorded are unofficial if the metric is highlighted in yellow.

A true nose tackle, Fotu is a powerhouse of a defender with more strength and technique than natural athletic talents. He has been dealing with an injury of late, and I don’t expect him to measure all that well at the Combine. However, as a nose tackle, the concern is only really with size, bench, and at least passable explosion traits. At his height, there’s some concern that Fotu could lose leverage at the pro level, but if he can put those concerns to bed, he will prove to be an excellent lane clogger for whatever NFL team picks him.

Raekwon Davis, Alabama

Raequan Williams RAS

Scouting ReportsThe Draft Network | NFL Draft Bible | Tankathon | This player is a prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. All metrics that have been recorded are unofficial if the metric is highlighted in yellow. Once the NFL Draft has concluded, player scores will be finalized and the prospect card will be replaced with...

When he first started for Alabama, Davis was one of the most promising, talented players in the country. From there, he saw his production decline in each season and the reasons why are unknown. The athletic talent appears to be there, so why couldn’t he make an impact when he had shown himself able to do so previously? I think the Lions will show more interest than most due to Davis’ work with this defensive line and what we saw from Da’Shawn Hand in 2018 as a rookie. Much like Hand in his rookie season, Davis could help Raekwon find success for someone who ‘underachieved’ in college by tapping his innate talents.

The Others

Benito Jones, Mississippi (RAS)

Bit of an anomaly physically, his size suggests nose, but his length could be a problem there. The Combine might put some of those concerns to bed or may lead to more questions.

Broderick Washington, Texas (RAS)

A bright spot at the NFLPA Bowl, Washington could see his stock rise in a venue with more pro scouts paying closer attention like the Combine.

Carlos Davis, Nebraska (RAS)

An odd eval as he always seemed to be out of position playing at the nose spot and then on the end. If he measures well, he could project to a 3T/5T role in a 3 or 4 man front.

Darrion Daniels, Nebraska (RAS)

Daniels made some headway with a strong showing at Senior Bowl practices, so the Combine gives him another opportunity to push his stock up further.

Davon Hamilton, Ohio State (RAS)

Not nearly as productive as his level of playing time would suggest, Hamilton is a wild card in that he almost makes a ton of plays, so some team could fall in love with him.

James Lynch, Baylor (RAS)

Serious length problems so measurements at the Combine are key. Has a good motor and attitude about football, so should endear himself during interviews.

Jason Strowbridge, North Carolina (RAS)

As I predicted (go me!), Strowbridge lost nearly 20 pounds from his play weight and at 267 is likely moving to more of a 5T position rather than a purely interior rusher.

John Penisini, Utah (RAS)

Not much in terms of athletic potential, but a real elephant on the line who is difficult to move when he doesn’t want to.

Jordan Elliott, Missouri (RAS)

Technical issues abound and most of his issues are north of the neckline, will need a serious DL coach in the pros to find his potential.

Josiah Coatney, Mississippi (RAS)

Though he was productive for Ole Miss, Coatney doesn’t appear to have the upside as a pass rusher that would get him talked about in more draft circles.

Khalil Davis, Nebraska (RAS)

A bit undersized with questionable length and functional strength, a strong Combine would do wonders to give him some draftable buzz.

Larrell Murchison, North Carolina State (RAS)

Size suggests an interior penetrator, but production and tape doesn’t really match that idea. Needs a lot of work and is more of a developmental player than even a depth guy.

Malcolm Roach, Texas (RAS)

Injuries and suspensions have been the story for this tweener lineman so the medicals and interviews mean as much, if not more, than the drills.

McTelvin Agim, Arkansas (RAS)

Projected to be an uber-athlete, Agim is almost all projection at this point, but he is a guy that defensive line coaches are going to salivate over. Don’t let him go to the Vikings, please.

Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma (RAS)

Explosive and adept at gaining and maintaining leverage, I’m surprised Gallimore isn’t being talked about as a top tackle more often.

Nick Coe, Auburn (RAS)

Versatile DL who can play multiple spots along the line, Coe has the type of length and range that Matt Patricia covets and I would expect him to be one of their official visits.

Raequan Williams, Michigan State (RAS)

An interior penetrator with a propensity to give up his leverage far too early, Williams is a work in progress with a high ceiling who should have an interesting post-Combine discussion.

Rashard Lawrence, Louisiana State (RAS)

Probably a below average athlete, Lawrence is a powerful bruiser with a high motor, so at worst he’ll make some noise in camp.

Robert Windsor, Penn State (RAS)

A tweener who doesn’t display many elite traits athletically, may have a higher floor than some, but definitely has a lower ceiling.

Ross Blacklock, Texas Christian (RAS)

Bounced back from a devastating Achilles injury, and if the medicals check out, you’ve got a guy who looks to have sufficient NFL level tape and upside.