If the first big pro day of the spring is any indication, the Detroit Lions could wait to fill their linebacker need until early in April’s NFL draft.
Lions linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard and special assistant to the owner Chris Spielman attended Georgia’s pro day Wednesday, with Sheppard running linebacker drills for a star-studded group of players that could include three first-round picks.
Sheppard and Spielman played a combined 18 NFL seasons at linebacker, and Spielman was a driving forced behind the Lions’ selection of Derrick Barnes in the fourth round of last year’s draft.
Georgia, coming off a national championship season, could have as many as six defensive players go in the first round next month.
Defensive lineman Travon Walker, a candidate to go No. 2 overall to the Lions, took part in Sheppard’s linebacker drills, as did first-round prospects Nakobe Dean and Quay Walker.
Channing Tindall, a mid-round prospect who played for the Lions-coached American team at the Senior Bowl, also took part in drills.
The Lions, who have three of the draft’s first 34 picks, are in need of an off-ball linebacker to pair with Barnes and Alex Anzalone, who signed a one-year deal to stay in Detroit this week.
Dean had 72 tackles, six sacks and two interceptions for the Bulldogs last season and starred in Georgia’s semifinal win over Michigan. Quay Walker had 63 tackles, including a team-high eight in Georgia’s championship game win over Alabama.
Travon Walker had six sacks and a team-high 36 quarterback hurries while playing primarily interior defensive line for the Bulldogs. At 6 feet 5 and 272 pounds, he ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine — the fastest by any player weighing at least 270 pounds since 1999, according to Pro Football Focus — and posted impressive testing numbers in the vertical jump (35.5 inches) and three-cone drill (6.89 seconds).
Georgia defensive linemen Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt and safety Lewis Cine also are potential first-round picks.