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Detroit Lions Pre-Draft Press Conference Quote Sheet w/ Executive Vice President and General Manager Brad Holmes

Opening Statement: “Just want to start off by thanking everybody that’s been involved in this process up to this point, our entire personnel department. Look, when I say personnel, it’s not just scouts. That’s football information, football tech, our ops support, everybody. It’s really been all-hands-on-deck. I want to thank our area scouts. Those guys did a great job. I thought that we had our best April meetings since we’ve been here, that’s kind of when they tie the bow up on all the work that they’ve done throughout the whole year. I thought it was awesome. I wanted to highlight (Lions Director of College Scouting) Brian Hudspeth, our college director. This was his first full-time year in this role. I thought he did a great job leading and organizing and everything that comes along with being in that role. The rest of our execs, (Lions Assistant General Manager) Ray Agnew, (Lions Senior Personnel Executive) John Dorsey, (Lions Director of Scouting Advancement) Mike Martin, (Senior Advisor, Player Personnel Operations/Strategic Initiatives) Don Corzine, those guys are key cogs in this process and in extremely critical roles. So, appreciate everything that they did. I wanted to thank (Lions Head Coach) Dan (Campbell), the entire coaching staff. They play a huge part in our process, very critical roles as well, so appreciate all their time and effort in it. We’re in a good spot right now.”

On the challenge of having a later first-round Draft pick for the first time in his Lions tenure: “Yeah, you’ve just got to keep wrapping your head around it. You’re kind of looking at a different level of player. It’s just – it is what it is. I don’t want to say it’s any less pressure because you’ve got to get every single pick right as well, at least that’s the standard that we hold ourselves to whether it’s at 29 or it’s been at seven or six or two or all those things. So we just take the same approach, but I don’t see it as any more or less pressure. I just think it’s probably, I don’t know, maybe less heralded. I don’t know if people are even still hanging around or even remembering who picked 31. It kind of seems like everyone is just kind of celebrating one through 15 or something. But we just kind of stick to the same process. You’ve just got to get your head around the players, and we’ve been doing this long enough to know like, ‘Alright, we’re probably not going to be in the mix on some of those guys.’ And that’s something that I picked up when we were in LA and did not have even a first-round pick for a long time, so you kind of expedite the guys you think you can be looking at.”

On the philosophy of trading up and giving up draft picks to select a specific player: “It’s a good question. First of all, it’s got to be the right guy. You guys see this, how we’ve operated in the past. If it’s the player that we want, we’re just going to go and get them. There are a lot of boxes that need to be checked. I think we kind of said it a little bit at the end of the season, everybody can’t play here. It’s got to be identified. That player has to be identified as, ‘OK, he’s checked all those boxes. He’s the right pick and he’s the right fit.’ Also, it’s just how high you’re talking. Is it way high? Is it just a few spots? Either one, obviously when you trade up for a player you identified him. But me and (Lions Head Coach) Dan (Campbell) have been saying from day one, it just has to be the right fit. There are going to be some talented players that you all have been looking at in mock drafts and stuff that just may not be good fits, and that’s OK and we’re fine with that. But look, if it’s a guy we really want, we’ll definitely make an effort if it makes sense. It just sometimes might not make sense. You’ve got to look at what you’re giving up. It’s a good question you brought up of where the roster’s at. You’ve got to look at expiring contracts coming up, and it’s just a lot that goes into it, but it’s a good question.”

On balancing building through the Draft with how much they want to maximize the window of success they have now: “Yeah, I don’t really base it off of windows really. Again, it’s just how much of an impactful player do you want to get. I’m just trying to think – look, if there was a – I think I told you guys last year we had what, six and 18 originally? We were looking to trade up from 18 if we stayed how it stayed. That didn’t really depend on the window that we were in or anything, it’s just that those were some players that we really, really wanted to have, and that’s just kind of what we had in mind that that was going to be the plan. It kind of worked out a little bit differently, you have to be prepared for everything. I understand the question because you’re like, ‘OK, the roster’s at a certain point. OK, you guys should be contenders headed into the season so OK, how do you operate this way?’ But again, I just think if we keep improving every single year through doing it in our process, that’s what we’ve been doing and that’s what we’ll continue to do. I think when you start getting into that, ‘We’ve got this window, we’ve got this, so we’ve got to pivot,’ that’s when I think you kind of get into a little bit of trouble.”

On how this year’s cornerback class ranks among years’ past: “It’s a solid group. I don’t think it’s really far from – I think I made a comment just the other week, just kind of looking at the whole class, I think it’s very normal of previous drafts in terms of the guys that I think probably are true legit Day 1 guys or Day 2 guys. So, I think it’s pretty normal. Again, they’re always different, but in terms of numbers of guys that are in those top rounds, I think it’s very similar.”

On the potential of trading out of the first round with the unique dynamics of being in front of Lions fans while the Draft is in Detroit : “Look, that’s a fair question. Look, we have to do the right thing for the organization. If it makes sense and it lines up and it’s the right thing to do, then we have to do the right thing. Say that happens where the fans have been waiting there all night for this pick and we get an offer that we can’t really turn down and makes sense, we’ve got to do the right thing and hopefully our fans will forgive us. Now, we won’t expect immediate forgiveness right then and there, but hopefully when the season starts and that player that we end up selecting they’re like, ‘OK, alright. We can kind of get past that.’ But no, I totally understand that. Obviously with the fans there – first of all, I’m so excited about the Draft being in Detroit. I really am. It’s just another opportunity for our franchise, our city, just for the world to kind of migrate to downtown Detroit. We have a lot of – we have multiple major NFL markets that are within driving distance. I expect it to be pretty packed. I’m excited for the local businesses. I just think it’s going to be really exciting. All that being said, I know the perfect storm is, OK get to the pick, stage area, they’ve been waiting all night, you make the pick and everybody’s happy. But if it’s the best thing for the organization, you’ve got to do what’s right. I’ll just do a PSA public apology later and we’ll roll.”

On if he considers this to be a strong Draft class and where it ranks among the previous three classes he has seen in Detroit: “Yeah, that’s a good question. I thought this Draft was a little bit more normalized. Last year, I don’t want to say weaker Draft, but there were less guys that you would have as true first-round prospects last year. I thought this year was more kind of like previous years before the ’23 Draft. But I still think it’s a good class. I think the other component is more guys that are not coming out. It’s because of the college landscape has changed, so outside of just the COVID deal with guys who have had more experienced and are a little bit older, it’s a lot of players that we’ve looked at that we thought were going to come out that ended up not declaring. I think that’s a big effect of what the college landscape is right now.”

On how they have been able to find as many Pro Bowlers through the Draft as they have: “I just think we make sure we’re convicted on every single pick. You guys have heard me say it, it’s no secret, it’s about the right football player. As long as we’re convicted on the football player, then you sleep good at night. That’s a lot of work that goes into being convicted on the right player. We just had (Top) 30 visits. We had medical meetings. There is a lot of stuff that’s like, ‘OK, this is the right guy.’ We’re still looking at tape now. It’s a lot that gets to that conviction. But as long as (Lions Head Coach) Dan (Campbell) and I are really aligned and convicted and we’re still like, ‘This guy fits,’ and not getting into the – I think at the Owners Meetings there were questions asked about like drafting an outside corner. No, we draft the right football player we’re convicted on. If the outside corner was the right football player we’re convicted on, then we would take that player. We don’t really get anchored on positions. We don’t really get anchored on windows. We don’t get anchored on – it’s just, there’s only one Draft every year. There’s a lot of work that goes into it, so that’s our recipe. We just kind of look for guys that we’re convicted on that are right fits for us and we don’t get into the premium positions and the – look, you can pick another position, and that doesn’t mean the guy’s the right fit. I know you guys were asking after the last Draft, ‘Well how come you guys didn’t pick another position?’ Well, it’s like, no it’s not another position, who? Which player? You don’t just pick a, whatever the premium position is. You don’t just pick a player because he plays that position. No, he has to be the right football player. That’s what we stuck to, and it’s worked so far for us.”

On if drafting for talent versus need changes as the roster has gotten better: “That’s a really good question because when we first got here, we had a ton of needs. So, we could go for the most talented guy, the guy that really fit the most. We could have gone in so many different directions, and that resulted in a lot of young players having to play early and (they) got a lot of experience. Really, with where the roster is now, I actually think you have even more flexibility to not be anchored into a need. Again, we try to do the best we can in free agency in terms of plugging holes and pulling out the depth chart and doing all of those things, and we feel that we did a great job in free agency and we’re in a position to go whichever direction that we want to go. I actually get more comfort of how the roster is now. It’s less of, ‘Oh, we really need this, we need depth here, we need that…,’ no. We’ve always said ‘best player,’ but it’s more emphasized now.”

On how much value there is to trade out of the late first round into the early second round and having time to reset the board: “It’s a really good question because it depends on a couple of factors. It’s, all right, you have a pool of players. Say you’re at your pick, we’re at No. 29, and you get an offer that gets you somewhere in the 30s early on in Day Two. If you’re pretty much convicted, ‘These are kind of the same players,’ regardless of position, you’re getting the same level of player. Is it a good starter or is it a developmental, high-upside backup? Whatever the case is, I’m happy with either one. I always go back to, ‘You get them in ranges.’ Don’t spend a lot of time arguing going to Grand Cayman or Turks and Caicos – you’re not going to be mad either way. When you’re happy with the decision of, ‘If we come away with any of these guys,’ you kind of do the math. You’re like, ‘OK, if we trade back here, some of these guys will be left, and we’ll be happy and we’re going to get some capital.’ Or, is it – you go back to that conviction conversation, ‘No, this is that guy that we have been convicted on. We’re not moving and we’re just going to stay put.’ Whatever extra capital you get on the backend, it’s really not worth it – let’s just go ahead and pick.”

On if the team has a foundational philosophy to build through the offensive line: “We’re firm believers that that’s where the game is won, and I’m sure you’ve heard that before. But that’s the foundation, that’s the core of our team. Yeah, there were some guys in place already, so there was less work that needed to be done. Now, the pieces that we’ve added with the guys that were previously here have just fortified it and made it even stronger, but again, you guys asked me – I think at the end of the season – that’s always going to be the utmost importance. That’s something that’s hard to overlook. I don’t care who you’ve got at quarterback. I don’t care if you have more of a pocket guy, a scrambler – I don’t care what it is. Offensive line, that’s critical. When you don’t have them, it can make life hard in a lot of different areas. We’ve had to do more work on the defensive side of the ball and there wasn’t a lot of pieces there when we got here, so we had to do a lot more work there. It’s always of the utmost importance and we feel really good about our offensive line now. We love what we did in free agency and I feel like we could line down and play now and be totally fine. If we do add somebody, it’s going to be hard to crack one of those big boys up front.

On if the COVID-19 realities and the transfer portal has made it easier for the team to identify prospects’ football character: “Everybody has a different plight, a different story. I’m meeting a lot of these kids and sitting down with them to hear their reasonings for their decisions. It’s been really fascinating because they’ve all been different. On the surface, I used to think just that. I was like, ‘Oh, well he wasn’t going…,’ but no, when you really hear what went through these kids’ decisions to jump into the portal, they’re all different and I respect them. It’s a lot more in depth in a lot of cases than I even thought.”

On how this receiver class compares to past Drafts and if there’s an opportunity for the Lions to add to their room: “I think it’s a solid receiver group. There’s some guys that should be able to contribute immediately. In terms of my opinion of strength, that’s always subjective. That’s what makes the Draft so fascinating, is what our Draft board is, there’s 31 other Draft boards and they may think that it’s not as good. We’ll just keep those to ourselves, but I do think there’s some receivers that will be able to contribute pretty early, I would think in this class.”

On how quickly a player is deemed as a Holmes and Campbell type of player: “Some of them, they declare themselves pretty early. I credit our area scouts. They do so much work on the front end, and the back end, they tee it up for us very, very well. And they kind of already have the kid nailed, really. And just say like, ‘Look, this is who this player is.’ And you might meet them and it lines up exactly. Some guys declare themselves pretty early. Some guys you sit down with at the Combine and it’s like, ‘Yep, this is exactly who the scout said that he was going to be and he knocked it out the park, boom, boom, boom.’ And some guys it might be a little different. Nothing on the scouts, but the kid might have been nervous. He didn’t really show his personality, and then we might bring him in for a 30 visit. We might spend time with him at a pro day or something and get to know him a little bit more. That’s happened in this process already just in some of these visits and some of these pro-day visits it’s been like, ‘Oh, wow, I feel a lot better about him being a fit here.”

On whether the new NFL kickoff rules have played a role in player evaluations: “Yeah, we’ve had a lot of discussions about that. I think we’re still in the exploratory stages in terms of a personnel standpoint. We have an idea of what we think is going to be the right fit. It has tweaked it a little bit, especially on the return aspect. You might be looking for a different kind of returner than you have been in the past, and vice versa on the other side, on your actual kickoff team. Trying to find your kickoff team, and your return unit, does that body type change, does that type of player change, does the movement skills change? So, we’ve had a lot of discussions on that. Obviously, you guys know special teams is high priority here, but I have all the faith in (Lions Head Coach) Dan (Campbell) and (Lions Special Teams Coordinator Dave) Fipp, that we’re going to have the right guys for it.”

On who on staff helps him keep a balanced perspective when making personnel decisions: “It’s probably harder than we maybe realize on the surface just because we try to lay out our process to avoid those anchors, really it’s probably more of the groupthink and the influence that is even a greater threat to our process. That’s just human nature. People naturally just want to be a part of the tribe. They want to get along. People naturally want to agree and be likeable. It takes work to go against the grain. It takes a lot of work. That’s why I have always had a lot of respect for the lone wolf. When we’re in there and everybody is saying, ‘Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes,’ and it’s some obvious prospect. It’s that one person in that room in that room that’s like, ‘I don’t.’ I’m like, ‘I want to listen to him or I want to listen to her.’ I want to listen to that person because that was the lone wolf. It takes a lot to be that lone wolf. I just have a lot of respect for that person. The anchors, we try to setup our process to avoid them, but again, it’s really the groupthink and group influence that is probably even more of a danger than those anchors.”

On how a lone-wolf opinion influences his personnel approach: “Sometimes I am the lone wolf. I might be the lone wolf. I’ll tell you, me and (Lions Head Coach) Dan (Campbell) were the lone wolves on a player that we took last year and it worked out. We loved the player. The rest of the group was like, ‘No, no, no, get this guy,’ at the same position. So, it may be something that you already knew and you got confirmation. So, if I am the lone wolf and everybody else is completely different than me, no one really knows what I think and I am listening to everybody, I am like, ‘Man, I need to go back and look. I missed something,’ and I have the confidence and the humility to do that because I have so much respect for the process. It’s an art form. The best thing about scouting is you get 20 people, 10 people, however many, looking at the same film in a dark room and you have 10 different opinions. That’s what’s awesome about it. So, when I am the lone wolf, and everybody is the opposite, I am like, ‘Man, I need to look back and see if I missed something.’ If hear the lone wolf that matched up with what I thought, I am like, ‘Well, at least that person saw it, but everybody else still was the same.’ It just depends – but if I saw something that the rest of the group said, and the lone wolf said something different, oh, damn right I am going to go back and look and see because that person is in the room for a reason and I have got a lot of respect for that person’s evaluations.”

On if he listens to everyone’s opinion on players before sharing his own: “Yes, basically.”

On if he will share who the prospect was from the 2023 Draft class that he and Lions Head Coach Dan Campbell were lone wolves: “No.”

Weather

Local High School Schedule & Scores

CSAA Baseball

MONDAY - 5/13

Reed City 0 @ Big Rapids 3

Reed City 3 @ Big Rapids 16 (5inn)

Lakeview 4 @ C Montcalm 14 (6inn)

Lakeview 4 @ C Montcalm 9

Tri County 5 @ Fremont 1

Tri County 8 @ Fremont 5 (6inn)

TUESDAY - 5/14

Chippewa Hills 5 @ Grant 4

Chippewa Hills 1 @ Grant 2

C Montcalm 7 @ Kent City 6

C Montcalm 12 @ Kent City 2

Big Rapids 13 @ Lakeview 1

Big Rapids 14 @ Lakeview 1 (5inn)

White Cloud 1 @ Morley Stanwood 2

White Cloud 11 @ Morley Stanwood 2

Tri County 1 @ Newaygo 3

Tri County 3 @ Newaygo 4

WEDNESDAY - 5/15

C Montcalm 4 @ Carson City 5

C Montcalm 24 @ Carson City 8 (5inn)

Manistee 3 @ Reed City 4 (6inn)

Manistee 12 @ Reed City 12 (5inn)

FRIDAY - 5/17

Big Rapids 0 @ Byron Center 4

Big Rapids 1 @ Byron Center 3

Kent City 6 @ E Jordan 3

Mancelona 3 @ Kent City 0

Lakeview 3 @ Grant 8

Lakeview 1 @ Grant 13 (5inn)

Ravenna 8 @ Newaygo 15

Ravenna 1 @ Newaygo 2

Morley Stanwood 2 @ Chip Hills 10

Morley Stanwood 2 @ Chip Hills 10

Tri County 6 @ White Cloud 8

Tri County 8 @ White Cloud 3

SATURDAY - 5/18

Inland Lakes 4 @ Big Rapids 7

Big Rapids 1 @ Beal City 11

Fremont 4 @ White Cloud 1

Fremont 5 @ Newaygo 10 (6inn)

Hesperia 2 @ Grant 12 (6inn)

Grant 2 @ Newaygo 1

Clare 22 @ Reed City 2 (4inn)

Ludington 13 @ Reed City 1

******************************************

CSAA Softball

MONDAY - 5/13

Reed City 8 @ Big Rapids 10

Reed City 0 @ Big Rapids 9

Lakeview 0 @ C Montcalm 10 (5inn)

Lakeview 1 @ C Montcalm 1 (6inn)

TUESDAY - 5/14

Chip Hills 9 @ Grant 14

Chip Hills 9 @ Grant 10

C Montcalm 7 @ Kent City 6

C Montcalm 12 @ Kent City 2

Big Rapids 14 @ Lakeview 1 (6inn)

Big Rapids 16 @ Lakeview 0 (5inn)

WEDNESDAY - 5/15

C Montcalm 0 @ Sacred Heart 15 (5inn)

C Montcalm 1 @ Sacred Heart 8

THURSDAY - 5/16

Cadillac 0 @ Reed City 19 (3inn)

Cadillac 0 @ Reed City 11 (5inn)

FRIDAY - 5/17

Lakeview 0 @ N Branch 10 (6inn)

SATURDAY - 5/18

Big Rapids 2 @ Dakota 12

Big Rapids 4 @ Oakridge 5

Big Rapids 9 @ Canton 4

Grant 2 @ Newaygo 1

Holton 1 @ Reed City 1

Ludington 0 @ Reed City 7

SUNDAY - 5/19

Big Rapids 14 @ Milan 2

CSAA Baseball Standings

1) Big Rapids: 17-1 | +172 -42 (+130)

2) Chippewa Hills: 11-5 | +91 -57 (+34)

3) Grant: 12-6 | 107 -57 (+50)

4) Newaygo: 12-6 | +104 -65 (+39)

5) Central Montcalm: 10-6 | +109 -71 (+38)

6) Reed City: 11-7 | +125 -81 (+44)

7) White Cloud: 8-10 | +79 -117 (-38)

8) Morley Stanwood: 6-12 | +57 -117 (-60)

9) Kent City: 5-13 | +86 -144 (-58)

10) Tri County: 4-14 | +89 -147 (-58)

11) Lakeview: 0-16 | +60 -181 (-121)

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