INDIANAPOLIS, IN - With a small army of scouts scouring this week's NFL combine, a few of Detroit Lions' interests surprisingly revolved around the offensive side of the football.
With aging tight end Marcus Pollard entering the second year of a three-year deal -- but potentially his last as a pro -- the team has demonstrated an interest in several tight ends, among them N.C. State standout T.J. Williams, whom they spoke to at length over the weekend.
Although Williams struggled during the Senior Bowl, he has garnered a strong NFL following because of his size (6-3, 269) and athleticism. According to TFY Draft Preview, Williams "makes the difficult reception. Flashing the ability to make plays into the secondary, he blocks with sound fundamentals."
Williams isn't necessarily viewed as a project, and many league scouts believe he can step onto the field and start immediately -- lending credence to his first-day draft status. When asked, Williams compared his playing style to that of the Falcons' Alge Crumpler and Chargers' All Pro Antonio Gates.
The Lions already have third-year player Casey FitzSimmons on the roster, along with former MSU tight end Jason Randall who resides on the team's practice squad. Still, neither is as athletically gifted as Williams, who led the Wolfpack with 36 receptions as a senior, accruing 407 yards (11.3 average) and two touchdowns.
The Lions have also met with Maryland tight end Vernon Davis (6-3, 254), Longhorns tight end David Thomas (6-3, 255), and Purdue's Charles Davis (6-5, 265).
It is incumbent upon every team to at least sneak a peak at the quarterbacks invited to the combine, and the Lions spent several moments with Eastern Washington quarterback Erik Meyer.
Meyer's skills and statistics are well-documented -- he ended his career as the most efficient quarterback in NCAA Division I-AA history -- but with any '2A' prospect, it comes with a disclaimer. Meyer's competition included fellow Big Sky schools such as Idaho State and Montana State; not exactly stalwarts by any means. Still, Meyer's exploits along with his potential are certainly worth a closer look. And he has spurned continuous MLB offers to pursue a professional football career.
Meyer completed 65 percent of his passes in his career, tallying 10,261 yards, 84 touchdowns and just 17 interceptions for a career rating of 166.47.
A relatively small 6-1, 210 pounds, Meyer works best out of improv. He has above average scrambling skills (5.0/40), and isn't afraid to throw on the run. His knock has been the inability to launch the football, which he has worked on since departing EWU.
TFY Draft Preview explained Meyer as an "accurate small school quarterback who makes positive plays in a variety of ways. Sees the field, constantly in control of the offense and makes good decisions. Displays a great sense of where his receivers are on the field. Poised under pressure and effectively places short throws. Picks up yardage with his legs and a threat carrying the ball."
Because he isn't the prototype pocket passing quarterback, which is necessary in the NFL unless your name is 'Vick' or, to a lesser extent, 'Young', Meyer is considered a project at the next level. But it didn't stop his head coach from giving him a ringing endorsement.
"He's such a competitor and so instinctive as a football player," Eagle head coach Paul Wulff said in a Big Sky Conference press release. "I think he's the best player in America and obviously he can play beyond here."
The Lions have only two quarterbacks under contract in Joey Harrington and last year's fifth round pick Dan Orlovsky. The team will certainly pursue its back-up in free-agency, making Meyer a practice squad candidate if Detroit targets him in the draft.
He entered the combine projected as a seventh-round pick, but his stock is rising.