Michigan football’s Andrew Stueber talks NFL journey, Detroit Lions local prospect day

Detroit Free Press

Before he wanted to be an NFL player, Andrew Stueber dreamed of being a marine biologist.

Growing up on the Long Island Sound in Darien, Connecticut, Stueber was fascinated by the estuary’s mix of salt and fresh water. He loved to fish — he once caught a nearly 7-foot blue marlin on a family trip to Mexico — and he was enthralled by the many species who called the sound home.

“I love everything about fish,” Stueber said Monday. “I like learned everything about them, and then kind of sports took over. I didn’t study marine biology or anything (at Michigan). That was probably a little too much work for me (with football). But yeah, that was like the first kind of passion that I had.”

Now, Stueber’s passion is football, and on Monday he was one of more than a dozen draft-eligible prospects who took part in the Detroit Lions’ local workout day.

Stueber did not participate in on-field drills, but he and most other prospects in attendance spent more than four hours at the facility being weighed and measured and going through meetings and playbook installs with Lions coaches.

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For Stueber, who made 20 starts at right tackle and two at right guard the past two seasons at Michigan, the experience was part of the final leg of what’s been a memorable pre-draft journey.

After Michigan’s national semifinal loss to Georgia, Stueber trained with offensive line guru Duke Manyweather in Frisco, Texas, tried his hand at a new position — center — at the Senior Bowl all-star game in Mobile, Alabama, and had an excruciating but enjoyable experience at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

At the combine, Stueber was one of about 16 offensive linemen who spent nearly 10 hours in a window-less room in the basement of an Indianapolis hospital awaiting a series of MRIs and X-rays as part of the event’s medical process.

The wait was so agonizing one employee brought a tray of roast beef and turkey sandwiches from the hospital’s cafeteria to feed the hungry linemen, but Stueber said he found a silver lining in the experience.

“I just remember talking to a bunch of those guys, getting to know a bunch of them,” he said. “I think that’s one of my biggest things that I’ll take away from this is just learning and just talking to a bunch of other guys. So many guys had different college experiences, but then again so many are alike. I just really like talking to guys and hearing what they had to say, what they learned along the way and what they want to pass along. So that was something that was really cool to me.”

He said he’s confident in his ability to make line calls should he need to play the pivot to center in the NFL, and his four-position versatility could make him an intriguing prospect in the middle rounds of the April 28-30 draft.

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“I think having played guard and tackle before, I know what I expect of the center and I want from the center as a guard, so I think that was pretty easy for me to kind of transition over there,” he said. “But it was definitely weird. I took a couple one-on-one reps and the guy was lined up always on my snap hand, so coming out from an even stance and then taking a step and not having my right hand immediately was kind of throwing me for a loop, but it was really good and of course at the next level, versatility’s the name of the game. If you can play one position, you’re valuable to the team. But if you can play tackle, guard and center, there’s almost 100% probability you’re going to get a jersey when game day comes just because of your ability to contribute.”

Along with the Lions, Stueber took part in the New York Giants’ local day workout last week and still has the New York Jets’ local prospect day to come.

He said he’s looking forward to having a few days to decompress before the draft, after what seems like non-stop travel and preparation the past three months. And if he happens to land with the Lions, he said he left Monday feeling good about his experience with coach Dan Campbell and the team.

“Coach Campbell’s a guy that give off so much energy,” Stueber said. “He just lights up people that he’s around. That’s important. That’s a fundamental thing that you need for a team to be successful is you need to have that kind of energy. All that energy around you can kind of lead to a bunch of different stuff, but if you don’t have that kind of fight and that passion for the game that he has, then you can be in trouble.

“I was talking to him for a little bit (Monday) and he’s a really cool coach. And then playing for Detroit would be something that’s cool. I know the area, I know how badly this program wants to be great and how deserving the fan base is of a great team. I think they’re almost there. They (may need) a couple more years, but I think they can definitely develop into a great team.”

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

Feeling a draft

What: 2022 NFL draft.

When: April 28-30; Las Vegas.

TV: ABC, ESPN, NFL Network.

Lions’ picks (with overall picks in parentheses): Round 1 — No. 2 (2), No. 32 (32); Round 2 — No. 2 (34); Round 3 — No. 2 (66), No. 33 (97); Round 4 — none; Round 5 — No. 34 (177); Round 6 — No. 2 (181), No. 39 (218); Round 7 — No. 13 (235).

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