Draft Updates: Lions, Texans, Watkins

While the ability to contribute on special teams may not be the deciding factor when the Lions decide which players to draft this week, it certainly doesn’t hurt, as GM Martin Mayhew tells Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

“It factors in,” Mayhew said. “It factors in more when you don’t have a competent returner, which we do. But it’s certainly something you take into consideration. If somebody can be a backup punt returner, he has more versatility.”

The Lions GM went on to point out that special teams contributions are something the club considers more and more as the draft goes on. In the sixth or seventh round, or even when pursuing undrafted free agents, having the input of area scouts on which players they think could become strong special-teamers is a key factor, according to Mayhew.

More on the draft from around the NFL:

  • Asked about the possibility of being drafted first overall, Johnny Manziel said the Texans are “holding their cards close” and that he hasn’t been told anything, while Jadeveon Clowney told reporters with a smile that he doesn’t think Houston will pass on him. Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle has the quotes from Manziel and Clowney.
  • Meanwhile, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com says (via Twitter) “no one is buying” that the Texans are locked in on a specific player at No. 1, adding that he believes the asking price for that first overall pick will drop tomorrow.
  • Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk passes along word that NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport said on the NFL Network this morning that the Lions have told Sammy Watkins they’re considering trading into the top three to draft him.
  • Former agent Joel Corry and ex-Packers executive Andrew Brandt each provide articles detailing some of their experiences in past drafts, which are illuminating and worth reading. You can find Corry’s piece at CBSSports.com and Brandt’s at TheMMQB.com.
  • Notre Dame defensive tackle Kona Schwenke visited the 49ers and Chiefs in the weeks leading up to the draft, and also had a private workout and meeting with the Niners prior to his Pro Day, a league source tells Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post.
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