The NFL Combine kicks off this weekend from Lucas Oil Field, and navigating the personnel and drills can be a tough task, especially when there are multiple players from multiple schools competing together at the same time.
Fortunately, there are some players the Detroit Lions should be watching closer than others, and that is the focus for the duration of the drills. Here's five players to watch as the combine kicks off and on-field drills begin.
1. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M. Most figure that Sammy Watkins will be off the board by the time the Lions pick tenth, so while the team will certainly watch Watkins closely, the focus will shift to others like Evans and Marqise Lee. Evans, specifically, has great size and hands, but will he have speed and the other measurables to justify a high selection? A good showing at the combine might ensure that, and make it more likely that the Lions take a wide out early.
2. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina. Rumors have been swirling that the Lions would consider drafting a tight end, specifically Ebron, with the tenth overall selection. Whether that's true or not, can Ebron justify top ten selection? He'll need to prove his athleticism and hands across the board and have a knock out combine for that consideration to have merit. Many consider Ebron to be a solid, across the board talent, but the only way to prove that to Detroit will be jumping off the tape. Will Ebron's combine make it easier for the Lions to part ways with Brandon Pettigrew?
3. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State. The Lions need to find another cornerback, and many consider Dennard to be the best available. Will the combine help his stock? Considering Dennard is already a solid physical specimen, with a fast 40 yard dash, he could look mighty appealing to the Lions. Detroit will look hard at the position early, so it will be wise to watch both Dennard and Justin Gilbert, who's become a mock draft darling lately for the Lions.
4. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama. Considering Louis Delmas is gone and the Lions badly need a new safety, Dix could become an interesting dark horse candidate for the team at 10. If he impresses with regards to speed, vertical jump and ball skills, Detroit might have an interesting option on their hands. Clinton-Dix figures to be the top safety available this spring, and considering the expense of Jairus Byrd, could be the second best option.
5. Michael Sam, DE, Missouri. Sam will be the most publicized player at the 2014 combine, but he was a player to watch all along for the Lions, considering he can rush the passer and might also be able to play a bit of linebacker if need be. Detroit should be watching to see if Sam's agility and speed shines through. Watch the cone drills and vertical jump considering many have questioned if Sam has enough size. If Willie Young departs, Detroit will need another pass rusher.
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