Inside the Article:
Kelvin Sheppard, the linebackers coach for the Detroit Lions, recently spoke to Justin Rogers of The Detroit News about LB Jack Campbell, who was selected by the Lions with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Out of the many players Sheppard spoke to, three individuals stood out. Will Anderson Jr. from Alabama was chosen early in the draft, while Nolan Smith, although available until the end of the first round, was not an ideal fit for the Lions' defensive scheme. However, it was Jack Campbell from Iowa who truly captured Sheppard's attention. The Lions boldly selected Campbell at No. 18 overall, recognizing his unique qualities as an off-ball linebacker.
- Sheppard is highly impressed with Campbell's exceptional understanding and intensity, leading to the team selecting him early in the draft.
- Campbell's advanced cerebral skills and ability to conceptualize plays set him apart from other prospects, making him a valuable addition to the Lions' linebacking unit.
- The Lions' decision to choose Campbell reveals their belief in his untapped potential and their commitment to developing his skills for future success on the field.
Detroit Lions coach Kelvin Sheppard raves about LB Jack Campbell
During the draft process, Sheppard and the coaching staff were impressed by Campbell's depth of knowledge and intensity. Campbell showcased a rare level of understanding beyond his own football experiences, displaying exceptional intensity and eagerness during interviews. His ability to conceptualize plays and provide insightful answers to coaching questions set him apart from his peers. Sheppard highlighted Campbell's advanced cerebral skills, stating that he would have been one of the top processors in the Lions' linebacking room in the previous season.
“These days, many of these kids don't even watch football outside of their own stuff,” Sheppard said. “So I would say to be on the level (of understanding) he was on is very rare. It was the intensity. His leg was shaking while he was answering questions. He was sitting on the edge of his seat.
“And watching him conceptualize things,” Sheppard continued. “Look, multiple linebackers that I talked to could tell you what the Will linebacker does on a play, but to see Jack conceptualize and think it through — ‘OK, with that motion the safety is about to spin, they're going to layers here, Coach' — then, when stopping the tape, asking him ‘Why do you think this happens?' And him being able to answer it, and his tone, his confidence with those answers.”
Sheppard wants Campbell to ‘get spicy’ in the NFL
Campbell's potential goes beyond what was showcased during his college career at Iowa. Sheppard noted that Campbell's movement skills surpass what is seen on tape, as his full athletic potential was not fully utilized within Iowa's defensive system. In college, Iowa focused on a tough, run-stopping brand of football, limiting the opportunities for Campbell to demonstrate his athleticism. Sheppard believes that there is considerable untapped potential in Campbell, waiting to be unlocked as he expands his repertoire of skills.
“I told him, ‘I see your movement skills are better than what I see on tape,'” Sheppard said. “Then you ask him what were you doing at Iowa. He was doing what he was asked to do. They weren't really unlocking his full potential as an athlete at college, because he'll tell you, at Iowa, we play a tough brand of football focused on stopping the run. We're hard-nosed, downhill, shock people.
“So they don't, the phrase I like to use, get spicy, where you'd see him doing exotic blitzes and showing off some of that athleticism,” Sheppard said. “Learning that, seeing it, I think there's a lot of untapped potential in this kid.”