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On Laurinaitis and the Lions

I caught up with former Ohio State middle linebacker James Laurinaitis last week as part of my draft preview package. He hasn't had much contact with the Lions throughout this whole process – just an interview at the combine and coach Jim Schwartz attended his pro day – but that doesn't mean they're not interested.

“I was talking to my agent about it, Tom Condon” – who also happens to represent Matt Stafford – “and he said, 'James, a lot of these teams already know your story. It's not like you're a secret to a lot of these teams. So they already know kind of what they're getting off the field with you,'” Laurinaitis said.

In fact, teams are limited to bringing 30 prospects in for visits, and many of those trips are used on players who need updated physicals and don't have quite the body of work of Laurinaitis, a three-year starter at Ohio State who hasn't missed a game or practice since fourth grade.

Laurinaitis said he worked out privately for St. Louis, Atlanta, Denver and Miami, and took visits to Kansas City, Houston and New Orleans.

“You're kind of wondering, are these teams interested in me or are these teams just trying to play the chess match to make their competitor think they're interested in me?” Laurinaitis said. “It's all a big poker game kind of. You don't want to put too many chips on one team because you never know who's going to take you.”

I don't know where Laurinaitis stands on the Lions' draft board. He's widely considered the No. 2 middle linebacker in the draft behind USC's Rey Maualuga, less dynamic but maybe a more complete player. The Lions, of course, also view Wake Forest's Aaron Curry as a middle backer, and Curry is the best defensive player in the draft.

I do know Laurinaitis is an interesting guy who would start from Day 1 with the Lions. His father was the professional wrestler “the Animal,” his uncle is still in the wrestling business, and he won the Nagurski Award as a sophomore and followed up with two productive years while playing under scouts' microscopes. He also said all the right things about playing in Detroit.

“It'd be like the next ghost of (Chris) Spielman coming in there, another Buckeye linebacker,” Laurinaitis said. “It'd be fun, it'd be an experience. To me, no matter what team picks me it's going to be a dream come true when that phone rings. You get to play in the NFL, you got to look at it that way. You can't say this or that, and if I went to Detroit, it's still a dream come true and hopefully be a part of some young players and some guys to turn it around up there because it's a great football town and they love their football and they want to see the Lions succeed.”

Update: Forgot to add, I got a tweet from Western Illinois linebacker Jason Williams saying he hasn't had any contact with the Lions. He's an outside backer so it's no great surprise. Figured I'd share nonetheless.

I'm sometimes a little slow in updating, but if you want to follow me on Twitter, it's "davebirkett".

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Blogger Jarrett said...


Would Curry not start from Day one if drafted by the Lions???

I mean no disrespect to Laurinaitis but uh...he didn't show up in bowl games. He was shown to be quite slow against Florida and Texas. I think he would paly the run well but he will get ate up in coverage. At least Curry is a three down LB and has the speed to cover a TE....
Not saying I am right...just a viewpoint that often gets overlooked....
Not to mention the past few can't miss LB's that have come out of OSU have not been that stellar...Hawk. Carpenter. Katzenmoyer...just haven't made the same impact in the NFL....

10:30 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'll now be following you on twitter, dave. god i hate that name though [twitter].

i really believe that animal jr can be our next spielman if we don't go with curry. might take some time, but i'll be ecstatic if we're able to grab AJ in the draft.

thanks for the updates, dave. as far as i'm concerned, you're our lions insider. keep it up. :]

10:30 AM 
Anonymous Dan Sullivan said...

Keep up the good work, Dave.

10:40 AM 
Blogger Dave Birkett said...

Curry is the best LB in the draft. No one disputes that. And yeah, he would start from Day 1 and I think he's the most likely future Pro Bowler in the draft.

Laurinaitis is an option later in the first, particularly (I think) if the Lions are able to trade down from 20 with say Atlanta (24) or Buffalo (28). I think he's a solid player and, bottom line is, if the Lions pass on Curry and Maualuga's gone at 20, they need a MLB.

11:13 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

^that's my ideal scenario. trade down from 20 AND 33 to get more picks.

11:34 AM 
Anonymous Big Biting Pig said...

Curry Maulaluga & Laurinitis would all start at middle from day 1 and they'd all be solid.

Sure Curry is the fastest and probably the best of the 3, but any one of these guys is the instant MLB starter for the Lions and I'll be thrilled if they are able to get any of them.

12:18 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

watching you on the webcast now, dave. looking pretty spiffy. ;]

12:30 PM 
Blogger Jason said...


I've always thought Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman would be a good NFL qb. Any thoughts on him or if the Lions might consider him in later rounds?

Height: 6-5 Weight: 240

Jason Williams

10:45 PM 

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