The 2023 NFL combine is fast approaching, and prospects will be able to put their athleticism on display for teams to see. The Lions sit at the number 6 spot, and there’s a player that hasn’t been mocked to them, but should definitely draw attention from Brad Holmes and the scouting team.
It’s no secret that the Lions will be looking to bolster their defense in the draft. They were pretty bad defensively to start the season, and it ultimately cost them a spot in the playoffs. The defensive line and the cornerbacks in specific are where they need the most help right now, and I think that an underrated d-line prospect is Calijah Kancey out of Pitt.
There are concerns about his size entering the league, as he is 6’0 tall and 280 lbs, which is small for the defensive tackle position, especially in the running game. But where he lacks in size he more than makes up for in skill and power. He racked up 19 sacks in 3 years from the defensive tackle position, with him being able to consistently beat defenders with both power and finesse. He is a rare DT who is able to consistently rush the passer, and could be the key to taking some of the double team pressure off of Aidan Hutchinson. While he may be limited to passing downs to start his career, he could truly evolve into one of the better DT in the league if handled correctly. And he’d be coming into a very favorable situation in Detroit with a talented D-line that could give him a lot of 1 on 1 opportunities in game.
The tricky part is where would the Lions draft him, as he’s tricky to mock right now pre-combine. Some mock drafts have him going top 10, others have him falling to the mid second round. While I think that some scouts will be put off by his size, I believe that his combine/pro day will show a lot of good for him and cause him to shoot up a lot of draft boards, similar to Travon Walker last year. I think the Lions will be able to trade back with a Qb needy team such as Carolina and he’d still be on the board for the taking. If his stock falls for any reason, he could even be available at 18 for them.