DETROIT (Michigan News Source) – Prior to starting camp with the veterans, head coach Dan Campbell talked about the rookies. “They were very competitive the past few days,” says Campbell. “We are looking forward to a good one [camp].”
The Lions had two first-round draft picks in defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan) and wide receiver Jameson Williams (Alabama). In the second round they chose defensive end Josh Paschal (Kentucky) followed by a third round selection of safety Kerby Joseph (Illinois). Tight End James Mitchell (Virginia Tech) came in the fifth round and linebackers Malcolm Rodriguez (Oklahoma State) and James Houston (Jackson State) in the sixth round. The seventh round brought cornerback Chase Lucas (Arizona State).
“Williams has had four really good days of rehab working with his guys,” says Campbell. “That’s what excites us is he is putting in the work (to get better). On the football side of it (practice), he is very much engaged. He knows the positions and is on it and he loves that part of it.”
Detroit went heavy on the defense with five players in the positions of linebacker, defensive lineman, and defensive back. Offensively, they chose a wide receiver and tight end.
Hutchinson has been the top rookie since coming to Detroit as the number one pick. The former Michigan player earned several collegiate awards for the defensive line along with being the Heisman Trophy runner-up. His presence up front could be the difference that Detroit needs this year for the defense.
“It’s hard without pads, but Hutch, he pops. To watch him go through it and I tell you every day he gets a little better. And that’s all you care about seeing a little bit of improvement every day.”
Another draft pick that has stood out is seventh round pick Lucas. The cornerback is starting to make a name in special teams for Detroit early on.
“Lucas has caught my eye especially in the special teams drills and compete drills. There is an awareness about him. He is pretty instinctive and aggressive. And you need to have all of that to be a good special teams player.”
With seven draft picks and several free agent non-draftee signings, the rookies have been pushed hard before camp opened up. Campbell says, though, “Those are the two that have really pop to me right now.”
Training camp opened up on July 30 and continues with their second practice on August 1 at 8:30 a.m. open to the public.
A video can be viewed here.