A Deeper Look Into Detroit Lions Fifth Round Pick Jeremiah Ledbetter.
What’s Good about the Pick?
Ledbetter’s pick has two qualities that Bob Quinn has shown to covet over his first two seasons as the Detroit Lion’s general manager: versatility and building depth. Ledbetter has shown some ability to play inside at 3T and also has the length to be able to play on the edge effectively. Ledbetter weighed in at 280 lbs at the NFL Combine and some would like him to gain some weight and play the three-technique at the defensive tackle position. You could see him replace fat with muscle and use his speed to rush the passer on the edge similarly to what teammate Kerry Hyder did in the 2016 season.
However, Ledbetter does not bring the same pass rush ability as Hyder has. He needs to develop his hand fighting skills and a deeper pass rush move pool. Ledbetter may not have the ideal athleticism to have an incredibly high upside, there is some room for potential as a pass rusher. He has great length and his motor is always running. He has flashed at the three-technique and has shown potential at defensive end where some think he is better suited with his length.
This is the type of versatility that Bob Quinn really covets in his depth players. Ledbetter is unlikely to start for the Detroit Lions year one, but could serve as rotational depth for them and can help if the injury bug strikes at two positions.
Why The Pick May Backfire?
There are media scouts that believe that Ledbetter does not have a true position in the NFL in a 4-3 defense like the Lions run. They believe that his only true position may be a five-technique in a 3-4 defense due to his tweener frame and length. While this may end up being the case, the Lions spend most of their time in their nickel package which would require Ledbetter to play inside or outside anyways. This concern is further mitigated when you take into account that it is likely Ledbetter would only see the field in passing situations as a rotational rusher.
If Ledbetter is to play the three-technique he does need to put on weight as he does not have the strength to set the edge or to handle a double team in the NFL on the inside against the run. But with his lack of explosiveness inside, he may not be the interior penetrator that some are hoping he will develop into.
Was Ledbetter Worth The Pick?
This one is way too soon to know. Some would like to have seen a power back took here or some bigger name defenders available at the pick. While his upside may be limited by his lack of athleticism, Ledbetter could become a decent rotational defensive lineman who can play multiple positions in an injury pinch.
Ultimately, Ledbetter may never be a perennial pro bowler, but he can help this team with depth and pass rush his rookie year with some upside pass rushing three-technique.