Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 5/1/13
FOUR-DOWN TERRITORY First down: The SEC has long been considered the most talented conference in college football, but the Detroit Lions hadnt been taking advantage of it. That is, until this year. The Lions had drafted only three SEC players -- cornerback Ramzee Robinson (Alabama) in the seventh round in 2007, quarterback Matthew Stafford (Georgia) with the first pick overall in 2009 and defensive tackle Nick Fairley (Auburn) in the first round in 2011 -- in the previous nine years. Robinson, Mr. Irrelevant after being the very last pick in the draft, spent two years with the Lions, mostly on the practice squad. Stafford and Fairley are part of the teams core group. This year, of the nine players drafted over seven rounds by the Lions, four are from the powerhouse SEC. It started on the second day of the draft when Detroit selected Mississippi State cornerback Darius Slay in the second round and Kentucky offensive guard Larry Warford in the third round. The Lions added two more on the final day of the draft, taking South Carolina defensive end Devin Taylor in the fourth round and Alabama tight end Michael Williams in the seventh round. It helped me out a lot as far as being able to adjust to the speed I think the NFL plays with, Taylor said of his SEC background. The SEC always has high level of competition. It keeps you working day in and day out, kind of like the NFL. Coach Jim Schwartz said it was the players, not the conference, that the Lions were targeting. Its certainly a place that you want to look, Schwartz said. A lot of them have been drafted the last couple of years. But every players on their own. You dont just draft a guy because of the conference hes in. You draft a guy because of who he is and how he fits the job you have for him. If you have to win now, though, it helps to have young players who have played against the best in college football. Second down: When the Lions have a team meeting, there wont be much doubt about who is the smartest person in the room. Linebacker Brandon Hepburn, selected No. 245 overall, received a biochemistry degree from Florida A&M. He participated in a study to try to cure cancer during an internship at North Texas. Hepburn described the project during a conference call -- something about nano particles -- but it basically went way over the head of all the sportswriters. For now, Hepburn is focused on a football career, but some day in the future, he might continue that pursuit of a cancer cure. I hope nobody cures it before me, but even better if they do, Hepburn said. Third down: Slay became a father in high school at age 15 and considered having to give up his football dream. It was rough for me, he said. I thought it was the end of the world. I felt like I had to quit school to take care of my son. My mom just helped me out a lot. She kept him while I was in school. My mom told me to go to school and graduate. Thats what I did. Slay made the trip to New York last week for the NFL Draft and was hoping to get selected in the first round. His son, Darion, got a little anxious when that wasnt happening. Hes like, Daddy, Im ready to leave, Slay said The wait was worth it in the end. Make sure you carry me around the stage so everybody can see me, Darion told his dad, who granted the request after the Lions finally called with the 36th pick overall. Fourth down: The Lions added two players who appeared in the BCS championship game: Williams and Notre Dame running back Theo Riddick. Williams and the Crimson Tide rolled to a 42-14 victory. He was part of three national champions as a four-year starter. Riddick knows what's coming when he sees Williams next week at the Lions rookie mini-camp. I think hes going to have a few more jokes than I will, he said.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Jarryd Hayne wants to return to NFL

Jones: I ‘scream in my pillow’ being at Super Bowl, not in it

Phil Jackson reportedly does not have opt-out until 2017

Byron Scott: D’Angelo Russell’s immaturity ‘at times’ a problem

Kevin Love: Shoulder injury ‘just a stinger’

Nets’ Joe Johnson would ‘welcome’ a trade

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Grizzlies want Kevin Durant in free agency

WATCH: Karl-Anthony Towns throws down monster dunk

Dos Anjos: McGregor will 'break like a girl' at UFC 196

WATCH: D'Angelo Russell hit in groin by LeBron pass

Kobe Bryant has great response to Tyronn Lue story

Report: St. Louis Blues no longer interested in Jonathan Drouin

Robert Kraft compares Tom Brady to Peyton, Eli Manning

WATCH: Markieff Morris appears to flip the bird to heckler

Prediction for each NBA award heading into the All-Star Break

Did Clippers reenact Paul Pierce stabbing during pregame intros?

Kobe Bryant gives LeBron James his game-worn Kobe 11s

The most and least improved MLB teams this offseason

Terrell Owens tells Skip Bayless to stop ‘misinforming’ people

8-year-old Panthers fan writes adorable letter to Cam Newton

Donovan McNabb: I did not throw up during Super Bowl loss

Seven teams that must target a quarterback in 2016 NFL draft

Fighter says sex before fight partly to blame for loss

Kevin McHale: James Harden being out of shape hurt Rockets early

WATCH: Kevin Love re-injures left shoulder

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker