The NFL Combine is mostly a stage for draft prospects to make a case for themselves in April’s NFL Draft. It’s their opportunity to shine on the field, off the field, and prove to teams that their medical history checks out.
But another important aspect of NFL Combine week is the intermingling between teams, players, agents, and the media. With NFL free agency just a week away, those days in Indianapolis always seem to be one of the primers for major trades, deals, and rumor-milling about what will happen in the draft a couple of months from now.
While the Detroit Lions have given us plenty to think about with their public statements, a few interesting rumors have emerged from Indianapolis that could give a glimpse into what we see Lions general manager Brad Holmes do over the next few critical weeks.
Here are some of the most interesting rumors from around the league.
The Lions expected to be ‘major players’ in WR market
This one comes from Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, who said after asking around, he expects the Lions to be aggressive in the wide receiver market during free agency.
“The agent for one of the top pending free agent receivers said the Lions indicated in a meeting last week they value his receiver in the same financial ballpark he expects his player to fetch in free agency,” Birkett wrote on Sunday. “And multiple other sources view the Lions as legitimate contenders to sign one of the position’s premier free agents.”
This isn’t exactly one of the most surprising rumors for the Lions. Detroit has basically spent all offseason publicly declaring their desire for an improved receiver room. Whether it was Antwaan Randle El saying he wants to add three this offseason, Ben Johnson saying this offense needs a vertical threat and a big red-zone target, or Dan Campbell expressing his own desire for some receiver competition, this is no secret.
There is no word on exactly who the Lions may be targeting, but the top receivers expected to be available include Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, and DJ Chark Jr.
Lions have shown ‘a lot of interest’ Kentucky WR Wan’Dale Robinson
Sticking with the wide receivers, Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network is reporting that the Lions have shown a lot of interest in a wide receiver prospect who hasn’t gotten a lot of hype locally.
Kentucky’s Wan’Dale Robinson—who ran a 4.4 40-yard dash over the weekend—appears to be on the Lions’ radar.
“The Detroit Lions have shown a lot of interest in Robinson,” Pauline wrote. Adding that Robinson is “getting a lot of love in the scouting community.”
At just 5-foot-8, 178 pounds, Robinson will have to overcome some serious size limitations to make an impact at the NFL level. However, his short-area quickness and elusiveness, plus his history running the ball—he had 134 rushing attempts in two years at Nebraska before transferring to Kentucky—has drawn some comparisons to someone like Deebo Samuel, despite a pretty stark difference in size.
There’s also an interesting tie between Robinson and the Lions. In 2021, Robinson was coached by Kentucky offensive coordinator Liam Coen.
Prior to his stint at Kentucky, Coen served as the Rams’ assistant wide receivers coach (2018-19) and their assistant quarterbacks coach (2020). Coen is now back in Los Angeles as their new offensive coordinator, but if Lions general manager Brad Holmes still has a connection with Coen from their shared time in LA, that could be some valuable intel.
“Liam, I’ve talked about him plenty in the interviews with different coaches,” Robinson said last week at the combine. “He’s really well-respected, and I love Liam to death, too.”
A Day 2 prospect, Robinson could make some sense for Detroit, as long as they get a big-bodied receiver to pair with him and Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Aaron Glenn is the hottest minority head coach candidate
Peter King of NBC Sports had a short section of his weekly Football in America column this week devoted to Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, whom he deems the ‘new leader in the Black coach pack.’
King asked some general managers at the Combine who the next Black head coach candidate will be, and the only person who received at least three mentions was Glenn.
“When I asked around about Black coach candidates to a few NFL GMs, I heard only one name out of three mouths: Detroit defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn,” King wrote. “A Bill Parcells disciple, Glenn, 49, is a former 15-year NFL corner with 41 career interceptions. He’s a steely, bright guy who players (I’m told) love playing for.”
Glenn interviewed for both the Broncos and Saints head coaching jobs this offseason. While he didn’t land either job, King reports that Glenn “came close” to landing the Saints job, despite Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen entering the process as a heavy favorite.
Jaguars favoring Aidan Hutchinson?
Sticking with King, he seems to think that Jacksonville may not be going the offensive tackle route, as many have presumed over the past month or two. To be clear here, he is not reporting direct interest from the Jaguars, rather calling it a “hunch.”
“My hunch is the Jaguars favor a spotless edge prospect over one of the tackles,” King said. “Hutchinson flew home to Michigan on Sunday morning knowing he did nothing to hurt his cause.”
During the broadcast of the NFL Combine, Hutchinson told Daniel Jeremiah and Rich Eisen that he met with the Jaguars. He also confirmed that he met with the Lions, as well, but added a little extra about Jacksonville.
“That one went well, too,” Hutchinson said.
Of course, Hutchinson is going to hype up his own stock as the potential No. 1 pick in the NFL, but if he does indeed land in Jacksonville, it would certainly change the dynamic of Detroit’s decision at Pick No. 2.
The Lions are probably not trading Jared Goff
There were some rumors mulling about Goff potentially being on the trade block—a nugget dropped by our Washington Commanders sister-site Hogs Haven. And while it appears most teams seem to be operating under the impression that most, if not all, of the top quarterbacks rumored to potentially be on the move are going to end up staying where they are (Aaron Rodgers, Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson), that doesn’t likely move Goff to the top of the list, per Chris Burke of the Athletic.
In a nice breakdown of where many teams currently stand at quarterback, Burke had this to say about Goff trade rumors.
“To the best of my knowledge, Detroit isn’t actively shopping Goff,” Burke wrote. “I don’t think GM Brad Holmes is even passively shopping him, just floating his name to take the temperature or whatever.”
It would be wild to see Goff get traded in back-to-back years, especially after a somewhat promising finish to the season. But as Burke wisely points out, that would leave the Lions in a tough position at quarterback. They would either have to fill Goff’s spot with yet another bridge quarterback (while likely eating a big portion of Goff’s contract) or force a rookie into the lineup with an underwhelming roster. Neither of those outcomes seems ideal for a team already dealing with so many other roster issues.
No deal done with Tracy Walker
During the week, Lions running back Jamaal Williams posted a video of himself and Tracy Walker on Instagram with the caption “Can’t wait to go back to war with my dawg T-WalkuhhSan,” leading to speculation that the Lions had re-signed the soon-to-be free agent safety.
Birkett shut that down, but noted there is mutual interest in the two sides.
“No deal is imminent with Walker and the Lions, though one certainly could be finalized next week.”