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Detroit Lions rookie minicamp notes: Appearances per draft pick

Detroit Lions rookie minicamp notes: Appearances per draft pick

On Friday, the Detroit Lions opened their 2024 rookie minicamp with the first of three workouts. The media was only privy to this opening exercise, as the next two operations will be carried out internally.

The Pride of Detroit was lucky enough to be part of the media in attendance during the approximately 90-minute practice. Below are my notes from that practice, focusing primarily on each draft pick.

Tyrion Arnold

I’ve only watched Arnold during team practice, and unfortunately, he hasn’t been targeted even once – which can make assessing his practice a bit difficult. But I can comment on his motor skills, which were noticeably more flexible than anyone else’s.

In the final 7-on-7 session, his receiver (minicamp tryout Kaden Davis) appeared to be the primary target of the play. But Arnold completely covered him, forcing the quarterback to take a simulated sack.

Ennis Raxestro Jr

Notably, Rakestraw played mostly nickel in practice. The only group drills he participated in was the opening 11v11 session which did not involve any passing. So it was difficult to evaluate his coverage skills. However, Rakestraw did show some blitzing skills and picked up at least one “tackle” for loss (no tackle allowed).

Rakestraw sat out the remainder of the team’s practice, which the rookie linebacker indicated was pre-planned, as he recovers from offseason surgery.

“I’m fine with my injury,” Rackstraw said. “They still want me to tell them I’m okay, but they want to know I’m 100% okay, so I’m sticking with their plan moving forward.”

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

Giovanni Manno

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

He had two really good battles with CFL star Matthew Betts, who was clearly the most skilled pass rusher in camp. Manu held his own, but Bates got him one time with a perfect push-pull move.

Sion Faki

Vaki spent all of his non-special teams work with the running backs. I came away impressed by his decisiveness and style of running downhill. I’m not sure how elusive he is at 5-foot-11 and 213 pounds, but you can tell by the way he runs that he won’t shy away from contact.

Offensively, I was very impressed with his hands. The running backs got a lot of work as receivers, and I didn’t see Vaki put a single ball on the ground. There was a botched exchange with a midfielder on a quick play, but the first day was remarkably sloppy for everyone. There were at least four botched exchanges between the quarterback and the midfielder, which is not uncommon on the first day.

The Lions spent part of training on the new start. Media rules prevent me from providing details about where specific players were playing, but I’ll just tell you that Vaki’s special teams potential definitely shined during that portion of practice.

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Mickey Wingo

It is especially difficult to evaluate play on the interior line, especially with the lack of full stands. Given that there was only one group of 11-on-11 (and not 1-on-1), there weren’t enough representatives to extract any significant feedback from his gameplay.

However, despite Wingo being described as a very undersized prospect (6 feet, 291 pounds), his lack of size didn’t catch my attention much. He mostly worked the three-technique alongside nose tackle (usually Chris Smith).

Christian Mahogany

Like Manu, Mahogany played exclusively the position he played mostly in college: right guard. Again, it’s difficult to evaluate the play on the interior line, but it’s worth noting that Mahogany was wearing a brace on his right leg, the same leg he tore his ACL in 2022. His involvement was not limited during the first 11-for-11.

Other notes

  • Lions coach Dan Campbell was not present at training for a personal reason, according to a team source. No other details were mentioned.
  • In my opinion, UDFA WR Isaiah Williams from Illinois has lived up to the early hype. He was always the first to participate in individual training, and he had his hands glued to me as the best player in the group. They were so fast and smooth that the ball barely made any noise when he caught it.

Agnew noted that they view him as a slot receiver (he’s 5-foot-10 and 186 pounds, so that makes sense), but noted that he’ll have a chance to make the roster because he also brings potential as a returner.

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

  • Toledo WR Devin Maddox – a tryout player in minicamp – was probably the youngest player I’ve ever seen on an NFL field. He’s listed at 5-foot-9 and 159 pounds. He showed some good hands early in practice, but looked out of sorts in the final few sessions.
  • Western Illinois cornerback JJ Ross — another tryout player — had the practice game. He stepped in front of a pass more than 20 yards over the middle to intercept a pass intended for Williams. It appears Ross may be coming from a safety position, which makes sense given his large size (6-foot-3, 203 pounds). Ross played almost exclusively at outside cornerback in college but played a bit at safety.