After last month's Senior Bowl, the next step NFL teams must take is the arduous task of scouting the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana. Called the "Underwear Olympics" by many, the event is vital towards determining the draft position of top prospects and plenty of others.
With that in mind, what positions should the Detroit Lions and their fans be watching closest when the events start this weekend? Below are five ideas which should help make navigating the always crowded combine just a tiny bit easier.
1. Wide Receiver. In need of a clear number two and possibly even a third wide receiver, the Lions will in all likelihood turn their attention to the draft in order to find someone. Fortunately, there will be plenty of good players available in a deep class. They'll be watching name players such as Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee in addition to the more underrated talents like Jordan Matthews. Detroit is sure to add wide receivers, so keep an eye on the position for the unheralded performers that step up.
2. Cornerback. Detroit needs to sure up the defensive secondary most of any position on that side of the ball, and will have the ability to scout a local prospect in Darqueze Dennard along with players like Justin Gilbert, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and company. Will someone unexpected step up, much like Darius Slay did last year, to catch Detroit's eye? Might the Lions look at lower rated prospects in the middle rounds like they did to pick up Bill Bentley? There are options at plenty positions, but plenty more at cornerback.
3. Safety. After the Lions ditched Louis Delmas last week, they'll need to find someone to take over at safety, so expect them to take a long, hard look at the position this weekend. Included will be Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Isaiah Lewis and Calvin Pryor. Will Dix or Pryor do enough to justify their possible selection high in the first round? Who might emerge later in the draft thanks to a big performance? Suddenly, safety has shot up the list of needs.
4. Linebacker. The Lions could use another outside linebacker, and if Willie Young departs in free agency, they'll need another defensive end as well. Considering the juxtaposition of need, the Lions will be looking at plenty of outside linebackers and rush ends during the combine just in case. That includes Michael Sam, who most figure to have a hyrbid role in the NFL. Detroit will also be watching other linebacking talents like Kyle Van Noy, Ryan Shazier and Chris Borland for the early to middle rounds.
5. Tight End. Will the Lions be content to move on without Brandon Pettigrew, who is set to become a free agent? If so, will they choose to find another starter early or upgrade the position in free agency? Eric Ebron is considered the best prospect, but keep focused on the spot for plenty of later round steals to emerge much like Joseph Fauria did last season.
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