Isaac Nauta Jersey

The Detroit Lions made more headlines with a tight end they selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but perhaps they should be making just as many for the one they selected in round seven. Isaac Nauta doesn’t get a ton of love in draft publications, but recently, handed out some major love to him. He was identified as one of the favorite picks of Lance Zierlein.

Here’s a look at what Zierlein wrote about the selection:

“Nauta the football player and Nauta the workout guy were two totally different prospects, from my perspective, but the poor testing stuck, which is why he tumbled. His testing numbers suggest he won’t be an NFL player, but I love this pick in Round 7 because he plays faster than he tested, he has great hands and I can see him competing for a role as a move tight end or H-back when Detroit looks to create matchup problems out of two-tight-end sets.”

Nauta made it to round seven which was interesting to note, but the reason could have been as much about testing as anything else. It’s possible that he didn’t test well at the NFL Combine leading to poor numbers. It’s happened before so it will be interesting to see what type of player Nauta is. The numbers paint the picture of a super productive, tough as nails SEC competitor. Truthfully, an NFL team can never have too many like that.

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It will be fun to see Matthew Stafford toss Nauta the ball a bit and get the Bulldog connection going up in Detroit. Safe to say that both Stafford, his wife Kelly, who is also a Georgia grad, and Nauta will all be fired up about this. It will be easy to see Stafford putting Nauta under his wing thanks to this important connection on the field involving a couple of shared colleges between two key offensive players on the Lions team.

Stafford went to Georgia and so did Nauta. So does the young dawg know the old dawg? Not exactly, but as they say in the movie Step Brothers, these two are likely about to become best friends. Will be fun to see the Georgia connection in Detroit. The last time Stafford had such a connection was with Kris Durham more than a handful of years back, another former Georgia pass catcher who scrapped and made the team.

Many analysts see Nauta having a long pro career and making an impact in the league. They have also called the pick a steal and predicted the team would be keeping Nauta when all was said and done. For sure, that would be a huge development for the Lions to get that play out of a player they nabbed in the seventh round of the NFL Draft.

While Nauta did not test well, he did a nice job to always be a top target with the Bulldogs and that is something which always catches Detroit’s eye. The team likes production, and there was nobody more productive arguably in his career in the SEC than Nauta. Combine numbers only mean so much, but Nauta’s production could earn him a big role with the Lions who are needy at tight end.

If it happens, Zierlein will not be surprised one bit.

Ty Johnson Jersey

The Detroit Lions selected Maryland running back Ty Johnson in the sixth round of the NFL draft with the 186th pick Saturday afternoon.

Johnson missed the last three games of his senior season with a calf injury, but he still finished the year as the team’s second-leading rusher with 506 yards. He had a standout season as a sophomore in 2016, rushing for 1,004 yards and six touchdowns and adding 206 receiving yards.

In four years at Maryland, Johnson rushed for more than 2,600 yards and 17 touchdowns. He added two receiving touchdowns and two kickoff returns for touchdowns.

During his college career, Johnson had three offensive coordinators, so he said he used that to help sell himself to NFL teams.

“I’m adaptable,” he said at Maryland’s pro day. “That’s what I tell them all the time — just because of so many coaches I’ve had. That’s something I’m more proud of than my speed and everything. . . . You put me in a new system, I’m going to learn it and I’m going to execute it.”

Johnson did not receive an invitation to the NFL scouting combine, but at Maryland’s pro day, he showed his speed with a 40-yard dash time that was unofficially under 4.4 seconds. No running backs at the combine ran faster than that.

Johnson is the third Terps player selected in this year’s draft, following safety Darnell Savage Jr., chosen 21st by the Green Bay Packers, and defensive lineman Byron Cowart, who was selected in the fifth round by the New England Patriots with the 159th pick.

Travis Fulgham Jersey

Virginia Tech  v Old Dominion

Travis Fulgham grew up a New England Patriots fan, in part because the only football he watched when he was young came when he was home visiting his dad in the winter and Patriots playoff games were on TV.

As the son of foreign diplomats, Fulgham, spent most of his youth living abroad in countries like Jordan, India, South Africa and Egypt.

He moved back to the United States permanently in the ninth grade, started playing football two years later, and on Saturday became a sixth-round pick of the Detroit Lions.

“Playing in the NFL was always my dream as soon as I started playing,” Fulgham said in a conference call with Detroit reporters. “I (didn’t think it was really possible until) after this year, after having a pretty good senior season and getting invited to the Senior Bowl and the combine.”

Fulgham had no scholarship offers coming out of Broad Run High in Ashburn, Va., only a walk-on opportunity at Old Dominion.

He redshirted as a freshman, played sparingly the next year, earned a starting spot in 2016 and blossomed last fall.

A second-team All-Conference USA selection, Fulgham had 63 catches last season for a team-high 1,083 yards. He led Conference USA in yards per catch (17.2) and projects as a potential deep threat for a Lions offense that returns starters Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones and added backups Danny Amendola and Tommylee Lewis in free agency.

“I feel like I’m a receiver who can definitely make some big plays for the team,” Fulgham, said. “I’m definitely a polished route runner. I can run any route on the route tree. I feel like I can definitely (move the chains) for any football team.”

Fulgham, 6 feet 2 and 215 pounds, grew up playing soccer and basketball abroad, and when he took to football he said he tried to emulate big receivers like Randy Moss and Calvin Johnson.

Now, he’s playing for Johnson’s old team, and with Johnson’s old quarterback.

“I definitely know Matthew Stafford is definitely a great quarterback who can definitely put up some numbers and definitely a good young core of receivers down there in Detroit,” he said. “I’m excited to join them.”

Amani Oruwariye Jersey

Penn State defensive back Amani Oruwariye runs in a drilll at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwariye studied a number of NFL cornerbacks while in college in hopes of taking little bits of their game and applying them to his. One of those players he looked at was Lions Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay.

“I watched (Slay) a good amount,” Oruwariye said Saturday after the Lions took him in the fifth round of the draft. “I just felt like Darius Slay played the deep ball really well. It’s just great technique.”

Oruwariye is now hoping to parlay that film study into a playing role alongside Slay in Detroit’s defense in 2019 and beyond.

“He’s somebody I’m going to really lean on and take advice from and try to groom my game after,” Oruwariye said of Slay.

The selection of the Penn State cornerback continues the Lions’ run on defensive players in the second and third days of the NFL Draft. Oruwariye is the fourth straight defensive player taken by Detroit after first-round pick tight end T.J. Hockenson.

Oruwariye has terrific length (6-2, 207) and speed (4.47). He intercepted four passes and broke up eight others as a reserve in 2017. He earned a starting role in 2018, earning a first-team all-conference nod and leading the Nittany Lions with 12 pass breakups and tying for the team lead with three interceptions.

His above-average size and strength could be a nice fit for a Lions’ defense that plays a lot of press-man on the outside. Oruwariye is physical at the line of scrimmage, and has the kind of physical traits teams like in a player drafted on Day 3.

“It just really allows me to match up with bigger receivers,” Oruwariye said of his size vs. other corners in this draft. “It allows me to use my body to my ability and really dominate at the line of scrimmage and go up with receivers and make plays on the ball. There are just a lot of strengths my size brings.”

Oruwariye will throw his hat into the mix of players competing for the open starting outside cornerback spot opposite Slay. The Lions signed Justin Coleman in free agency to man the slot. Oruwariye is likely to join Rashaan Melvin, Marcus Cooper, Teez Tabor and others in the competition for that outside role.

Austin Bryant Jersey

Clemson defensive end Austin Bryant was selected by the Detroit Lions in the 4th round with the 177th overall pick in the NFL draft.

Bryant is the 4th Clemson defensive lineman to be selected in the first 4 rounds of the NFL draft. Austin’s draft value may have dropped because he was unable to physically participate in the post season draft process while recovering from a torn pectoral muscle that he played through during the second half of Clemson’s 18/19 season.

Austin was a three year starter for Clemson. As a sophomore he was plagued by a foot injury that cost him the majority of of the season, starting the first 3 games of the year and then returning to limited action in the Tigers post season run to the National Championship. He recored 13 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks in limited playing time. Bryant came on as a junior, starting 14 games, recording 50 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and an interception. Bryant returned to the Tigers as a senior and put in another stellar season putting up 45 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks.

When healthy (and even when not as a senior), Bryant was a terror at his left end position. At 6’5, 260, he is a freaky athlete that Brent Venables liked to move around the field. You saw that against Virginia Tech in 2017 when he was tasked with blowing up wide receiver screen passes. You won’t find many defensive ends able to flank out to the perimeter and take away screen passes. For his effort, he was rewarded with an interception he managed to stab with one hand.

Will Harris Jersey

For the second time in Day 2 of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Lions have bolstered the defensive side of the ball with the selection of defensive back Will Harris out of Boston College. The Lions moved up seven spots to take Harris, giving up one of their sixth-round picks (204 overall) to do so.

Harris (6-1, 207) played all over the field at Boston College as both a free safety and in the box. His athletic traits are off the charts, running the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds at the Combine with a vertical of 36.5.

He was a four-year starter at Boston College, and one of the defense’s key leaders.

“I’m ready to rock,” Harris said in a conference call Friday night. “There was no one-set scheme that was necessarily my fit that I was looking for. With that said, it worked out perfectly with Detroit picking me. That worked out perfectly being reunited with coach P (Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni). I’m excited about this scheme. It should be a lot of fun.”

Harris started all 12 games as a senior, making 75 tackles and intercepting one pass. He has the size and speed to match up with pass-catching tight ends, and should be a staple on special teams early on. He’s a hard hitting defender with speed, which could fit nicely into a multiple scheme like the one the Lions run.

“Three-year starter, team captain, versatile guy, playing strength, speed,” Lions general manager Bob Quinn said of Harris as a prospect.

Quinn thought Harris was one of the better players at the Senior Bowl in both the practice and game settings. Quinn was also impressed when he visited Boston College and the staff there raved about Harris.

Quinn said the staff at Boston College described Harris as the heartbeat of their defense. Those are the kind of players he’s trying to add to Detroit’s roster.

The Lions look to have terrific depth and versatility in the backend of their defense with Quandre Diggs, Tracy Walker, Andrew Adams, Tavon Wilson and now Harris.

Jahlani Tavai Jersey

Allen Park — Last year, the Detroit Lions caught everyone off guard with their first-round pick. This year, they waited until the second round of the NFL Draft to surprise observers, selecting Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai No. 43 overall Friday night.

General manager Bob Quinn raved about Tavai’s versatility, as well as his unique skill set and body type being a strong fit for Detroit’s defensive scheme.

“Very unique with his body type, his playing strength, his ability to rush, cover, play the run, throw special teams in there as well,” Quinn said. “It’s just something where these guys are hard to find really felt fortunate to be able to get him because there was some interest in and around our picks that we were getting pretty nervous there for a few picks.”

A four-year starter, the 6-foot-2, 250-pounder racked up 124 tackles in both 2016 and 2017.

Tavai took an official visit to Detroit during the pre-draft process and said he also talked to the team during the scouting combine in February.

Many draft analysts weren’t keen on Tavai’s potential heading into the draft, with most viewing him as a Day 3 selection. But at least a handful saw a Day 2 talent, including The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, who mocked the linebacker to the Patriots in the third round.

Quinn noted part of the team’s evaluation is the scarcity of the position in the draft and how many other teams might also value a linebacker with Tavai’s body type for their scheme.

A shoulder injury and a one-game suspension, following an arrest for assault at a night club, limited him to eight games as a senior.

According to Hawaii News Now, Tavai was arrested along with a teammate for third-degree assault after they were involved in an altercation with a man who allegedly pushed a woman to the ground

In a conference call with Detroit media, Tavai declined to comment on the incident. Quinn said they discussed the issue with Tavai, multiple times, are are comfortable it was an isolated incident.

“Everybody in the building sat down with him,” Quinn said. “He told the same exact story that he told us at the combine. It was very consistent from point A to point B. He made a mistake. You guys read the articles. You know what it was. I think a lot of people in this room would’ve stepped in and tried to do the right thing as well. It was unfortunate. He made a mistake, and we are totally fine with him character wise, 1000 percent.”

Tavai played outside linebacker as a freshman, but started in the middle his final three seasons. He anticipates starting out as a Mike in Detroit. Jarrad Davis is the current starter in the middle for the Lions, but could be shifted to a different role in 2019 to better utilize his pass-rush ability.

Prior to the Lions’ selection, there was a run on cornerbacks, with four coming off the board the first 10 picks of the day. Washington’s Byron Murphy, Temple’s Rock Ya-Sin, Central Michigan’s Sean Bunting and Clemson’s Trayvon Mullen were all taken before the Lions were on the clock.

Also selected were several popular names linked to the Lions, including wide receiver Deebo Samuel and offensive linemen Cody Ford and Dalton Risner.

T.J. Hockenson Jersey

Kirk Ferentz calls it “the curse of being the younger brother,” but for new Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson, it turned out to be quite the blessing.

Long before he was a football star and the Lions’ newest first-round draft pick, Hockenson was the youngest of three sports-minded brothers growing up on a patch of property in Cherokee, Iowa.

In his never-ending quest to keep up with boys 11 and 15 years his senior, Hockenson almost always had a ball in his hand. If his brothers were out back playing baseball, he was there, too, getting his cuts in. If they were downstairs shooting pool, he would rack the balls and wait his turn.

The Hockensons lived on a quiet street with four or five houses, their fenceless backyards one big field that made it the perfect place for any kind of game.

More often than not, that game was football. And rather than just toss the ball around, T.J.’s older brothers, Andy and Matt, made him work to catch it.

“Moonballs,” Andy said. “We were just launching these things.”

Andy and Matt would throw the ball across as many backyards as they could, and T.J. had to sprint his little legs underneath and catch it. If he didn’t, his punishment was a lap around the block.

The games started when T.J. was 4 or 5 years old and continued almost daily till his brothers were off at college.

T.J. said his brothers got a kick out of “chuck(ing) the ball at my face,” but by the time he was 7 or so, he wasn’t running many laps around the block anymore.

“That’s kind of how he always was,” Andy said. “I’m 15 years older than he is and so when I was in high school and playing sports he was always trying to get right in the middle of it all, which was cool. But that was one thing my mom would always get very angry about was that we didn’t treat him like he was a 5-year-old, we treated him like he was one of us. So it was kind of the thing, if he wanted to hang out and play with us, it was, ‘You don’t get any favors.’ ”

Hockenson didn’t need any favors.

When the family moved to Chariton, Iowa, in middle school, he was a budding star on the baseball diamond and basketball court. He golfed. He fished. And he had a pair of special hands that got him recruited by Ferentz to Iowa, hands he credits now to those games of catch with his brothers in the backyard.

“I’m not taking any credit for any of that,” Andy said. “That’s 100% him wanting to be in the middle. He could have had us doing all these things and he wanted nothing to do with it. But we used to have kind of an open great room in our house and I would take, like I had a broomstick and little golf-ball Wiffle balls, and I would hit those with soft toss, or I’d throw to him. And he’s in a diaper, and he’s got this little Bamm-Bamm, like little red kind of a plastic bat. And I would stand on one side of the living room and I’m throwing these things hard. And he’s got this little Bamm-Bamm bat just going, ding. And he’s standing there with nothing but a diaper on. I distinctly remember him just standing there with a diaper on, him just dinging them. And my mom’s screaming over here as those balls are going everywhere, my mom’s screaming, ‘This is why we can’t have nice things.’ ”