Gilyard, Bell Speak of Jefferson and Gash in High Regard

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on February 27, 2010 – 7:17 pm

The Detroit Lions consider it a significant benefit to have spent time with many of the top senior prospects in this year’s draft class by way of the 2010 Senior Bowl.

Those prospects having moved on to the NFL Scouting Combine, are speaking about the fact that they, too, benefitted from the interactions with the Lions’ staff.

Cincinnati WR Mardy Gilyard was one of the North Team’s top performers in the Senior Bowl and one of the sought-after prospects at the combine.

Gilyard: “The Lions staff is just one of a kind. Those were the coaches that I felt like I really needed as a player. Shawn Jefferson, the coach, was really, really, really, really strict amongst (all the) guys, but it seemed like he was real strict on me. He did a lot of yelling, getting in my face a lot. I can remember day one, he’s like, ‘Man, we want to send you home, man.’

“I needed stuff like that because, as a player, when you’re good and you feel like you’re good – not that you take anything for granted – but sometimes you get lackadaisical and you need that kick in your butt to get you moving. They gave me that.

“The coaches really gave me what I needed – my position coach – and they worked my butt off there. It was just an experience I’ll never forget.”

Gilyard is a player who went through adversity in his collegiate career, losing his scholarship after his sophomore season due to academics.

He lived in his car and worked four jobs before going back to Cincinnati.

Gilyard: “Me and Coach Jefferson spoke a lot about life (and) this whole process of me leaving the Senior Bowl coming in to when I would actually be drafted. He was also telling me, ‘Mardy, you need to make sure that you just stay out of the way. You don’t need to get in any trouble. If you hang with a crew, tell your crew you’ll hang with them when you get time to. This is the time that you need to be indoors.’

“He’s like, ‘You got a dog? You got a girl?’ I was like, ‘Well, I got a dog; I ain’t got no girl.’ He was like, ‘Well, you need to spend all your time with your dog, inside the house.’”

Gilyard says he has been spending time with his dog, Kane’O, to follow Jefferson’s advice.

Wayne State RB Joique Bell was also on the North Team roster with the Lions’ staff. Bell says he benefitted from the week of practice more than he did the actual game.

Bell: “The practices (are) where you make your name. They say a lot of the scouts don’t really stay for the game – they leave before the game. For me, my effort that I gave out there on the field, I think is what really stood out to the scouts, so of course I think that practice helped me out more than the game.”

Like Gilyard, Bell also received words of wisdom from his position coach and former NFL player, Sam Gash.

Bell: “He’s a good guy. He stayed on us – he stayed on us a lot. He wanted the best out of us. He demanded it and didn’t expect anything less. It wasn’t anything that I expected less of myself. He was a good guy.”

While Gilyard was coming off adversity he experienced during his collegiate career, Bell used the Senior Bowl to put his talent level up against the top Division-I players.

Bell: “It was great being able to get out there with the D-I prospects and being able to showcase my talent.

“Not only that, but meeting new people, making new friends – made a lot of friends with Mardy Gilyard, Jacoby Ford, Sean Witherspoon, Chris Cook, LeGarrette Blount – just to be able to go out there and just to be able to meet the top-tier guys and be able to compete with them was great. It was fun and it was a memorable experience.”

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Could Detroit trade the No. 2 pick?

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on February 25, 2010 – 7:29 pm

The question of whether the Lions could potentially trade their No. 2 draft pick away came up on Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Head Coach Jim Schwartz didn’t endorse trading or keeping the pick, but instead said the organization would be open to anything.

Schwartz: “I think that whether you keep the second pick or whether you trade down, it doesn’t change what you have to do and that’s make good decisions in the draft. We mentioned Louis Delmas before; there’s not many players in the draft last year that right now we would trade Louis Delmas for and he was a top pick of the second round. There are blue chip players available in a lot of different spots in the draft.

“We drafted a starting linebacker in the middle of the third last year in DeAndre Levy from Wisconsin. So, whether you trade down and get more picks (or) whether you move up, it’s more about identifying the players and getting the players to fit what you do, rather than getting more picks and things like that. More picks aren’t useful if you don’t use them wisely.”

When it comes to using those picks wisely, Schwartz has an advantage over many head coaches in that he has a scouting background.

Schwartz: “I think every coach is focused on winning on Sunday and that’s about as far as you look ahead. You want to do everything you can to win that game and coaches, for the most part, don’t look long-term. Our goal every week should be to win that game, but there’s also a lot of other things that you need to manage.”

Because of his scouting perspective, Schwartz tends to base his decisions beyond the immediate or upcoming season and instead look toward the development of young players and the team as a whole.

Schwartz: “(You are) making sure that your team is going to be good next year and the year after and things like that because not every decision in this league is short term, so I think that background definitely helped in that. I’m not a very patient guy, but it gives me perspective, it gives me that appreciation for that perspective when it comes to building a team.”

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Schwartz says Lions are Open to all Positions at No. 2

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on February 25, 2010 – 6:11 pm

After all was said and done with the 2009 college football season and bowl games, two of the top players in just about every top-10 draft list were Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.

Head Coach Jim Schwartz was asked about those two players on Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. It was proposed that, regardless of which player St. Louis selects at No. 1, the Lions would at least be sure to get a quality defensive tackle at No. 2.

Though Schwartz agreed that Detroit would, in fact, get a quality player, he doesn’t want to stop at the defensive tackle position.

Schwartz: “(Let’s not say), ‘We have to take a defensive tackle or we have to take (a specific) position.’ Last year at this time were saying sort of the same kind of thing. ‘Hey look, we’re not saying that we’re definitely drafting a quarterback. Let’s let the whole thing play out – let’s get the best player. If that happens to be a quarterback then that’s good.’

“We could probably say the same thing with defensive tackle. Let’s not make our mind up right now, let’s let everything play out. Let’s let all the information be brought, let’s make a good decision on that. But regardless, we need to find a good player for us at that spot.”

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What’s Next? The Upcoming NFL Schedule

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on February 14, 2010 – 7:13 pm

Now that the Senior Bowl has come and gone, the next focus for the Detroit Lions (and the rest of the NFL) is a combination of the NFL Scouting Combine and free agency.

Here are the dates for those two events as well as other important dates for this offseason:

Feb. 24-March 2 — NFL Scouting Combine

Feb. 25 — Deadline for designating franchise players.

March 5 — Free agency begins

March 15 — Detroit Lions report for voluntary offseason conditioning program

March 21-24 — Annual owners meeting

Early April — 2010 regular season schedule announced

April 22-24 — 2010 NFL Draft

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Offseason will be Significant for Second-Year Offensive Players

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on February 3, 2010 – 7:40 pm

With a month having gone by since the conclusion of the regular season, Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan is looking forward to healthier players when they return for the 2010 offseason program on March 15.

After the first two weeks of the season, injuries plagued different starters week-to-week, making it difficult for his young skill players to develop as a unit.

Linehan: “Of the pieces that we have, we’ve got a ways to go there because we were never able to consistently have Matthew (Stafford) and Calvin (Johnson) working together. We had our ups and downs with both of them staying healthy.”

This offseason will be big for Stafford and the other members of last year’s draft class. Players don’t report to their teams until the first week of May and then they can’t come back for the offseason program until late May depending on their college’s graduation date.

That leaves rookies with approximately five weeks of total offseason work, something that makes transitioning into the NFL that much harder.

For a quarterback in particular, getting that time with teammates to gel together is invaluable.

Linehan: “It’s him building a relationship with players and getting that trust factor. It’s still going to be valuable to him building his rapport with the offensive line, Brandon (Pettigrew), the backfield – all those guys.”

Working together, going over specific play types and just getting a feel for one another will undoubtedly have tangible results in 2010.

Though players are coming off injuries, the lone factor of having this time to work with the coaching staff is still beneficial.

Additionally, both the players and coaches will be working with one another having already spent a season together. Last year, the majority of the coaching staff was new as well.

Linehan: “I’m excited about the second go-round because you’re not putting together a playbook working with guys you’ve never worked with. Having that continuity going into this offseason and knowing what we have and knowing where we’ve got to get to be at a different level than we were a year ago – that’s exciting.”

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