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Rashan Gary has declared for the NFL Draft, Lions should be interested

Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary has announced that he will forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL Draft.

As one of the top defensive players in a potentially deep NFL draft class, this decision isn’t very surprising as his versatile skill set translates very well to multiple defensive schemes at the next level — as an inside defender in a 43 scheme, a 5-technique in a 34 scheme, and a Da’Shawn Hand clone in a multiple scheme.

Recently, I examined some of the top defensive players being connected to the Detroit Lions in 2019 mock drafts and Gary was a player who I believe would fit like a glove in Honolulu Blue. Here were my thoughts at the time:

“A lot of analysts are stuck on the fact that Gary plays defensive end for the Wolverines and doesn’t put up the statistical numbers you would expect from an elite defensive end. What gets overlooked is how Gary is used in Don Brown’s scheme — as an ‘anchor’ defensive end.

“The ‘anchor’ role is exactly what it sounds like. Gary is asked to anchor his side of the line, set the edge first and then pass rush second. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s exactly what the Lions ask their down EDGE rushers to do.

“Gary has Da’Shawn Hand type range — with more pass rushing chops — and would give the Lions two incredibly versatile pieces to pair with (Damon) Harrison and (A’Shawn) Robinson. Imagine this defense with two Hands in the fold. Yes, please.”

Based on my unofficial tracking of the Lions’ scouting department, they have had at least one scout in attendance for at least five Michigan games during the 2018 season and a minimum of four games during the 2017 season. That gives the Lions plenty of opportunities to have thoroughly laid the groundwork for evaluating Gary’s skill set.

As the offseason unfolds, expect the Lions to set up interviews with Gary and be paying close attention to his medical checks and performance at the NFL Combine in March. If he dominates the drills as most anticipate and passes medical checks, the Lions should be very interested in him come April.

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