Lions rookie Aidan Hutchinson impresses early

While it is early in the process, Detroit Lions’  first-round pick Aidan Hutchinson seems to making the transition to the pros smoothly.

“Here is my initial read: everything that we thought we were getting shows up, not just in practice but in the meeting room also. … He has this quickness that is unbelievable,’’ defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said.

Naturally all eyes were on the rookie defensive end who impressed on the third day of OTAs on Thursday. He notched a pair of sacks during two-minute drills. Again, there is a long way to go, but so far so good.

Hutch was known for his work ethic at Michigan and he lost none of that on his way east to Allen Park.

“Just watch him, he’s always working. It’s that relentless attitude you guys see when he was at Michigan that made him so successful and it’s natural for him,’’ Glenn said. “There’s no doubt in my mind this player is  going to be a really really good player for us. I’m executed to see once we get in training camp and get in the games for us.’’

Hutchinson will work daily against the Lions’ offensive line, which if it remains healthy, is solid. Left tackle Taylor Decker, who is sitting out while his foot heals, said on Thursday that it’s the most talented line since he’s been in Detroit. 

Coach Dan Campbell expects Hutchinson’s biggest transition will be the physical part — adapting to the speed of the game and the types of tackles he will face.

“I’ve said before this is where I think Hutch is going to have a big advantage is he’s going to have to go against (Penei) Sewell and Decker every day. I think that’s huge. I think that will play more into his development than a lot of other things … I think it can excel his progression,’’ Campbell said.

Hutchinson is 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds and Campbell is happy with is strength but sees better things ahead.

“He’s got a ton of room to get more powerful, if you would. His strength is good enough to go out and compete no problems there, but yet, man, there’s still a ton of meat on the bone with him. That’s pretty exciting,’’ Campbell said.

The interview with Campbell was prior to Thursday’s OTA session. 

“You can never tell for sure but I would say (strength) is one of the reasons we wanted to pick this guy — his DNA says he’s going to do everything that he can to be successful and he’s got enough ability and enough strength, he certainly does, to go out and help us and help us win some games,’’ Campbell said. “How fast will that be? I don’t know. I know this we’re not going to put him out there until he’s ready. He’s going to have to show that to us. We’ll see how it goes.’’

Five keys from Lions GM Brad Holmes one week before the draft

Of course Brad Holmes is not giving away his draft strategy. Still the Lions general manager, who is entering his second draft with the team, shared a few insights one week before the NFL draft.

The Lions have two first-round picks (No. 2 and 32) when the draft kicks off at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 28. Overall they have eight picks over the three-day event.

“Right now, we’re in a good place. There are still things that are fluid here and there, there is still some new information coming in as we speak. But we’re confident in our process up to this point,’ Holmes said at a pre-draft press conference on Thursday.

Even though Holmes had a decent draft a year ago, the Lions are coming off a three-win season. That point can’t be overlooked. The team was young and due to injuries many younger players got thrown into the fire. Some found success, others got a little singed but could be better for the experience.

He would not rule out taking a quarterback with the No. 2 pick, insisting he is looking for a game-changer at that pick and every pick. “So, if that position is a quarterback, then it’s a quarterback. Just because often, it’s been slated that, well, picking up there, it’s either going to be a quarterback or a pass rusher or a tackle and all that type of stuff. But look, I said from Day One, give me a game-changer at any position, and there are multiple positions where we do see that potential game-changers could be there in the future,” Holmes said. “Time will tell of course however they develop.”

Five of the key highlights from Holmes on Thursday:

1. With the second overall pick, it’s not just a matter of nailing down his top two prospects. “Anything can happen (on) any day, I will say that. But it’s not just narrowing it down to your top two. You better have your top five. You better have your top 10 in place because you just don’t know what’s going to happen each day,’’ Holmes said. “We do have it narrowed down, and we feel confident where we’re at with how we have it pared down. We’ll just let the process unfold.”

2. He is confident that Dan Campbell and the coaching staff can once again prepare rookies for Sundays in the NFL.  “Like I said, we’re very fortunate and we’re very blessed, and to get into position to have a coaching staff that has a passion of developing, and the proof’s in the pudding. It’s proven; they’ve actually done it. So, it gives you a lot of optimism,’’ Holmes said. Last year’s top pick, right tackle Penei Sewell, was a starter from the get-go. But the staff also got several rookies to contribute including linebacker Derrick Barnes (fourth round) who started six games and played in 17  and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (fourth round) who also started six games and played in all 17.

3. Holmes and his scouting staff aim to find the right balance for a prospect between his college production and potential. “You can’t ignore production, but you’ve also got to look at those critical factors of the actual player. Is he doing everything in his power, does he have the skillset, does he have the traits to do certain things? Does he have the football character? There’s a lot of different factors that can come in that can project to more production when they get into the NFL. How were they used in their scheme in college versus what our scheme is going to be? There’s a lot of different factors that go into that, but you definitely can’t ignore the actual production because that’s real (and) factual,’’ Holmes said.

4. While no one will downplay the importance of the draft, last year Holmes was able to work undrafted prospects like cornerbacks Jerry Jacobs and A.J. Parker into the lineup. That fact could play into draft-weekend decisions. “It just gives you confidence that we were able to identify some of those guys. Being that those guys have a year under their belt, they carry that invaluable experience that they have and that play time into this year. So, yeah, absolutely. It kind of affects a little bit how you look at it, like you can’t forget about those guys. It gets you excited about what those guys are going to be this year coming up,’’ Holmes said.

5. Holmes and coach Dan Campbell proved last season that they don’t look at pedigree or draft credentials when it comes time to getting the best players on the field. “Dan and I have always said you can call us the land of opportunity, but we don’t care where you come from. … If you step in this building, you’ve got an opportunity to compete and it doesn’t matter where you come from. You can talk about meritocracy, in the sense of whoever’s the best is the best. Well, that’s kind of how we approach it because of undrafted free agents.”

Lions newest safety DeShon Elliott appreciates team’s gritty style

Although he was celebrating just his 25th birthday on Thursday, DeShon Elliott is looking forward to a fresh start as a safety for the Lions.

After spending four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, he thinks the Lions are a good fit.

“On my visit last week being around the coaches I really feel they love and care about each one of their players and they want to be great,’’ Elliott said on Thursday.

His first inkling about coach Dan Campbell and his staff came when the Ravens beat the Lions 19-17 at Ford Field last season in Week 3.

“It was a slobber-knocker, but they played so hard and I could just tell from that game how much they loved their coach by the way they played. You can always tell that,’’ Elliott said. “They really bought in and loved the experience they have in the building. That was one thing on the outside looking in.’’

His 2021 season ended with biceps and pectoral injuries sustained in a Nov. 8 game. His rookie season in 2018 was spent on injured reserve with a broken arm. He played just six games in 2029 due to a knee injury. But started all 16 in the 2020 season.

Obviously staying healthy is key for Elliott, a sixth-round pick in 2018, who signed a one-year deal with the Lions on April 14.

Before he signed he talked with Quandre Diggs, a former Lion who was shipped out of town by Matt Patricia. Elliott said Diggs is like a big brother to him and told him the Lions’ style of football – gritty and hard-nosed – matches the character of the city.

“That reminds me a lot of Baltimore so that’s another reason I came here, I wanted to go somewhere that matched my game,’’ Elliott said.

He also knows Tracy Walker – they were in the same draft class – and admires his game.

Elliott said in his talks with Lions coaches, he felt what mattered the most is  the kind of person he is.

“They wanted to build a certain type of character into the locker room. I think I bring all the right traits,’’ Elliott said. “I’ll be myself at the end of the day. No matter what, I’m not going to be somebody I’m not.’’

He describes himself as aggressive, one who puts it all on the line.

“I’m here to win, that’s it, that’s all I care about,’’ Elliott said.