Detroit Lions rookie minicamp overview: Impressions on each draft pick

On Friday, the Detroit Lions opened 2024 rookie minicamp with the first of three practices. The media was only aware of that initial exercise, as the following two tasks would be performed internally.

The Pride of Detroit was fortunate enough to be a part of the media presence during the practice, which lasted approximately 90 minutes. Here are my observations from that exercise, focusing primarily on each draft selection.

terrian arnold

I only saw Arnold during team practice, and unfortunately, he wasn't targeted once – which might make it a little difficult to evaluate his practice. But I can comment on his movement skills, which were far more fluid than anyone else there.

In the final 7-on-7 session, their receiver (minicamp tryout Caden Davis) appeared to be the primary target of the game. But Arnold completely blanketed him, forcing the quarterback to take a fake sack.

annis rakestra jr

Most notably, Rakestraw was playing primarily at nickel in practice. The only team practice in which he participated was an early 11-on-11 session that did not involve any passing. So it was difficult to evaluate his coverage skills. As noted, Rakestraw demonstrated some blitzing skills and picked up at least one “tackle” for the loss (no live tackles are allowed).

Rakestraw sat out the rest of the team's practices, which the rookie cornerback had planned ahead of time, as he recovered from offseason surgery.

“I'm OK with my injury,” Rakestraw said. “They still want that—I tell them I'm OK, but they want to know 100% that I'm OK, so I stick to their plan moving forward.”

It's also worth noting that out of all the defensive backs, Rakestraw was the one I saw getting the most attention from defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn.

giovanni manu

Despite telling the media after the draft that he believed he was ready for the guard role, Manu played exclusively at left tackle in Friday's practice – where he played at the University of British Columbia. Yes, his size—6-foot-7, 354 pounds, according to the roster sheet—is the first thing you notice about him, but his movement skills aren't far behind.

He had some very good battles with CFL star Matthew Bates, who was clearly the best pass rusher in camp. Manu maintained his grip, but Bates caught him once with a perfect push-pull move.

Zion Walk

Walky spent all of his non-special teams games working with the running backs. I came away impressed by his decisiveness and style of running downhill. I'm not sure how athletic he'll be at 5-foot-11, 213 pounds, but you can tell by the way he runs that he's not one to shy away from contact.

Offensively, I was most impressed by his hands. The running backs got a lot of work as receivers, and I didn't see Walky put a single ball on the ground. There were heated exchanges with the quarterback during the fast game, but the first day was a very disappointing one for everyone. There were at least four bad exchanges between the center and quarterback, which is not that unusual for a first day.

The Lions spent a portion of practice on the new kickoff. Media rules prevent me from revealing where specific players were playing, but I will just tell you that Waukee's special teams ability definitely shined during this portion of practice.

Mekhi Wingo

Interior line play is particularly difficult to assess, especially without full pads. And considering there was only one set of 11-on-11 (and no 1-on-1), there weren't enough reps to draw any significant observations from their play.

That said, even though Wingo is projected as extremely undersized (6-foot, 291 pounds), his lack of size doesn't really bother me that much. He worked mostly on three-takes with the nose tackle (usually Chris Smith).

Christian Mahogany

Like Manu, Mahogany played exclusively at the same position he primarily played in college: right guard. Again, interior line play is tough to ass, but it's worth noting that Mahogany was wearing a brace on his right leg, the same leg he suffered from a torn ACL in 2022. His involvement was not limited during the initial 11-on-11.

other notes

  • According to a team source, Lions coach Dan Campbell was not at practice due to a personal matter. No other details were given.
  • In my opinion, UDFA WR Isaiah Williams from Illinois lived up to the early hype. He was always the first receiver to participate in individual drills, and his hands struck me as the best of the group. They were so fast and soft that there was barely any sound when the ball was caught.

Agnew reported that they see him as a slot receiver (he's 5-foot-10, 186 pounds, so it makes sense), but added that he'll have a chance to make the roster because he's a returner. Also brings potential as.

“He is a playwright. A guy with the ball in his hands, a playmaker,” Agnew said.

  • Toledo WR Devin Maddox – a minicamp tryout player – may have been the smallest player I've seen on an NFL field. His weight is listed at 5 foot 9, 159 pounds. He showed some good hands early in practice, but looked marginalized in the final few sessions.
  • Western Illinois cornerback JJ Ross—another tryout player—had a practice game. He stepped in front of a 20+ yard pass over the middle for an interception on a pass intended for Williams. It appears Ross will be coming from a safety position, which makes some sense given his significant size (6-foot-3, 203 pounds). Ross played almost exclusively outside cornerback in college but also played a little safety.

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