Head coaches from every NFL team and a personnel executive from many NFL teams make their way through the media center to meet with reporters during the Combine. I don’t stand in and listen to every one of them, but whenever a team from the NFC North sends a representative to the podium, I try to pay attention.
Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz just finished meeting with reporters and I was able to stick my ear in and hear some of what he had to say. Schwartz just finished his 1st seasons with the Lions and led the club to a 2-14 record. Detroit has the #2 pick overall in this April’s NFL draft.
A few quick notes/thoughts on what Schwartz had to say while answering questions from reporters…
– Schwartz said early in the conversation that one big difference between this year’s Combine and last year’s Combine is that this year he’s not looking to find a starting QB. Last year, the Lions selected QB Matthew Stafford with the #1 overall selection. Stafford played and started 10 games in 2009 and certainly had his fair share of struggles. But the process of developing him into an NFL starter and potential franchise QB is well underway, and that makes building the rest of the team much more manageable, Schwartz acknowledged.
– Continuing on the QB issue, Schwartz was asked about the future of Daunte Culpepper, who played in 8 games and had 5 starts for the Lions last season. Culpepper will also become a free agent on March 5. Schwartz did not say whether Culpepper would indeed return to Detroit or if the Lions would let him walk away and sign with another team, but the Lions head coach did say that the team is open to any number of possibilities.
– While the Lions selected a QB with the #1 pick of the 1st round last year, they used the #1 pick of the 2nd round to take S Louis Delmas out of Western Michigan. Schwartz called Delmas the team’s best defensive player, which is high praise considering he was only a rookie last year and also considering that Schwartz is a defensive-minded head coach.
But the thing that stuck out the most to me is that while speaking about Delmas, Schwartz perfectly characterized what the NFL Scouting Combine is all about. So often the perception is that this event is where decisions about draft day are made when in reality the Combine is just another small piece of a large puzzle. Schwartz said that the Lions felt good about Delmas, all the way from the good grades their college scouts gave him to the fact that he played his best ball against top competition to his performance at the Senior Bowl. Then, Schwartz said, Delmas impressed the club during interviews at the Combine and that Delmas generally showed the Lions that he was the same person on the field that he was off the field.
I’m off now to listen to Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman appear on SIRIUS NFL Satellite Radio and then meet with Twin Cities reporters. More from the Combine a bit later…
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