As much as he tries at times, Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell has a hard time not telling the truth every time he speaks. We heard it plenty of times throughout the year when he didn’t shy away from his own mistakes or the play of his own players.
Now firmly into the offseason, Campbell is trying his best to hide his team’s intentions for the player acquisition phase, but sometimes he can’t help himself. Chatting with NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero in the middle of Saturday’s Senior Bowl, Campbell spilled the beans as to what he’s hoping to add to the roster this offseason.
“I’m going to be as very generic as I can,” Campbell said, lying to himself. “Just upgrading in all areas, that’s where we need some help. Certainly, you’d like to add a receiver. You’d like to add a linebacker. You’d like to add a little depth at o-line and DB. So we’re just looking for help a little bit of everywhere.”
Of course, it’s not exactly like Campbell is revealing any deep, dark secrets about the Lions. After Amon-Ra St. Brown was the team’s only reliable wideout last year, of course, the Lions are trying to add a receiver. With poor linebacker play last year and both Alex Anzalone and Jalen Reeves-Maybin potentially headed for free agency, it’s obvious Detroit should be in the linebacker market.
Still, it’s reassuring to hear Campbell admit the same roster deficiencies that are obvious to those of us on the outside looking in.
Of course, Campbell didn’t quite stop there. During the same interview, Pelissero pried about two NFL Draft prospect the Lions were coaching at the Senior Bowl. Michigan State fullback Connor Heyward, who apparently earned the nickname “Baby Ironhead” from Campbell, received some pretty big praise from the Lions head coach during the interview.
“I’ll be honest with you, he’s had a good week. He had a good week this week,” Campbell said.
Pelissero fired back by accusing Campbell of loving all fullbacks.
“Yeah, look, I do. They’re a different kind of breed, aren’t they?” Campbell said, before turning back to Heyward. “He’s a little more versatile than a true fullback, though.”
Pelissero also asked a very leading question about Liberty quarterback Malik Willis. “How badly do you want to draft Malik Willis?”
And while Campbell originally dodged the question successfully, he couldn’t help but praise the work Willis has done this week.
“I’m not answering that. I’m not answering that with anybody. I’m not giving up intel,” Campbell said. “I like a lot of players here and I do like him. He’s a good player.”
Earlier in the week, Campbell gave a more thorough praise of Willis after Tuesday’s practice.
“I think he throws a nice ball,” Campbell said. “I think he’s pretty athletic, he’s built better than — from afar you don’t know. That’s why, to see these guys up close, he’s a good looking player. He’s built right, looks like he’s built to last. Shoot, he handled our playbook pretty dang good yesterday.”
Did Campbell give up any devastating intel that will destroy the Lions’ chance at an offseason? Of course not. But as a coach who has kept it real for the first year on the job, his comments certainly are worth tracking through free agency and the draft.