04/29/2012 - A closer look at the Lions' picks: Round 4/125 - Ronnell Lewis, DE, 6-2, 253, Oklahoma...He may be too small to play defensive end and too slow to play outside linebacker, but the Lions believe he will wreak havoc on special teams. He's a fierce hitter who earned the nickname "Hammer" at Oklahoma. - The Sports Xchange
Nicknamed "The Hammer" by teammates for the way he hits, but coaches could never find the right nail for this unusually gifted athlete.
After playing only eight-man football in high school, Oklahoma coaches knew they had a gifted, raw talent but never figured out where to best use his abilities. He played most of the front seven positions like a wild animal chasing his last meal, especially when in pursuit of a quarterback.
College coaches say he is a good kid, willing to learn, but he has maturity issues and struggled with class work. Lewis was suspended at the end of last season for academic reasons and his coaches suggested he turn pro. He was listed as a defensive end at the Combine and showed up almost 10 pounds over his college playing weight.
Along with persistent back problems, Lewis had minor knee surgery in 2010 that put him out of two games and a neck injury in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl that caused him to lose feeling in his arms for a short time. But in a little more than two seasons, he totaled 118 tackles (67 solo), 20.5 for a loss, 10 sacks and two interceptions.
He looked good at the Combine with an unofficial 40-yard time of 4.68 seconds and 36 reps with 225 pounds on the bench press.
Pass rush: A very good athlete who plays fast and accelerates quickly upfield. Plays with fluid quickness and sharp footwork. Struggles to shed once engaged and plays with very predictable hand use. Doesn't flash many secondary pass rush moves and has unrefined mechanics as a pass rusher -- can't simply rely on his natural ability at the next level.
Run defense: Keeps his eyes up and quickly locates the ball with good patience and overall awareness. Needs to develop better pre-snap recognition skills and anticipation. Plays hard on every snap, doing a nice job not giving up on the play and making tackles downfield in pursuit. Limited against the run at the line of scrimmage with a suspect base and overall anchor.
Explosion: Not a quick-twitch or sudden player and lacks an explosive first step with an inconsistent get-off. Possesses smooth change of direction skills and can make plays in any direction. Doesn't always play with the competitive fire teams seek in a pass rusher.
Strength: Naturally strong and always looking to finish. Plays physical and violent with aggressive hand use. Doesn't have great growth potential and might be maxed out physically.
Tackling: Reliable tackler in small areas. Strong hands to secure tackles and knock the ball out of the ballcarrier's grasp. Tight-hipped and will miss tackles in space.
Intangibles: Has a lot of raw ability and overall upside for the next level. Had only 14 starts at the collegiate level with underwhelming production. Never led the Sooners in tackles, tackles for loss or sacks. Undersized to play with his hand on the ground and might be limited to specific schemes -- lacks a natural position and was used in various spots over his collegiate career. Has some maturity and character concerns, not leaving Oklahoma on great terms and struggling with academics throughout his career -- was suspended for the bowl game this past season due to poor grades and was told by the coaching staff that he was better off moving on and going pro.
-- Dane Brugler