On Wednesday night, the Detroit Lions finally released their highly-anticipated fourth installment of their “Inside the Den” video series, providing unparalleled, behind-the-scenes access to the team’s draft night experience. Not only does it feature plenty of video from the Lions’ war room over the three-day event, but it has incredible footage from NFL Combine interviews, team meetings, and player visits that provide nice context as to how the Lions arrived at all of their decisions.
The first half of the 52-minutes (!!) video was devoted to Detroit’s thrilling first round of the draft when they landed Michigan edge defender Aidan Hutchinson and then traded up to grab Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams in an aggressive move.
There have been a lot of questions about Detroit’s decision at the top of the draft. Who did they want the Jacksonville Jaguars to take with the first overall pick? How much did they consider Kayvon Thibodeaux given all the homework they did on him?
The documentary doesn’t provide all of these answers, but it does give us the exact moment they found out Georgia’s Travon Walker went first overall. The reaction of head coach Dan Campbell is particularly interesting:
It should come as no surprise that Aidan Hutchinson was a Dan Campbell guy through and through. Lions general manager Brad Holmes gave much more of a neutral reaction, but earlier in the video, Holmes promised himself he was going to be more composed this year around after last year’s wild reaction to grabbing Penei Sewell.
“I’ve played this scenario in my head so many times,” Holmes explained to owner Sheila Hamp. “I think whatever name goes up there, I’m just gonna be completely still.”
Hold that thought for later.
After the Walker pick was made, Holmes provided an interesting little snippet.
Lions GM Brad Holmes: “Let’s send it in. Any regrets? There’s only one person on the board!”
Campbell: “Hell yeah, man”
Holmes: “There’s only one name up there, so, that’s it!”
This essentially confirms that by Thursday night, Thibodeaux was not in consideration for the second overall pick. It doesn’t say much about whether they wanted Walker or not, as that list was likely two players long and there was always going to be just one person left after the Jaguars picked.
There was a lot more drama surrounding Detroit’s second pick of the night. You can see at 8:35 p.m. ET that Holmes is already making calls to see if teams are interested in trading back so that Detroit can jump up. For reference, that’s before the Giants took Kayvon Thibodeaux with the fifth overall pick. So they didn’t waste any time getting the gears moving.
At 9:10 p.m. ET—Holmes said right around Pick 9—he followed up with Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to make sure he was still on for their previously-agreed upon trade.
Then they waited. They had three picks that had to fall in the hopes that Jameson Williams would still be there when the Vikings were on the clock at 12. Offensive tackle Charles Cross went to the Seahawks. Wide receiver Garrett Wilson went to the Jets. And then we saw the entire room sink as the receiver-needy New Orleans Saints traded up to 11.
That’s when the Lions' war room used the power of positive thinking.
Chris Spielman: “They might go (Chris) Olave.”
Campbell: “Dude, we’re gonna fucking get him. We’re gonna fucking get him.”
Then we watch as the room goes silent when the pick is in. And this is their reaction when they learn the Saints did, indeed, take Chris Olave:
Holmes can’t keep his excitement bottled up, as he slams on the table—just like he did last year with Sewell. A binder goes sliding off the table and Holmes makes a bee-line for the phone to confirm the trade with the Vikings. Campbell does a little jig, and the rest is history. John Dorsey goes in for a high-five that I don’t think is ever returned by Holmes, who is just ecstatic.
Holmes caps off the moment with another slam of the table and an “I knew it was coming” to the room. Eventually, he composes himself, saying with a smile, “I said I wasn’t going to do that this year, didn’t I?”
But maybe the best reaction from the Lions came a few minutes later when a voice is heard outside of the war room.
That’s Lions wide receiver coach Antwaan Randle El crashing the war room to show his appreciation for the addition.
After some celebratory noises, Randle El says, “I ain’t gonna bother y’all for the rest of the day” on his way out.
We’ll have more on the behind-the-scenes video later this week, but go spend the next 52 minutes of your life watching the entire thing.