Delmas: "It's The Fight In The Dog"

Louis Delmas performs at combine (AP)

Louis Delmas might not have the size, but he certainly has the spark. Detroit's new safety is ready to dismiss critics of his size, and bring his hard-hitting style to the defensive backfield of Detroit.

Big and bad.

That was what the Detroit Lions had publicly claimed they would become during the 2009 off-season. It was part of the team's new attitude, and they were going to show it defensively.

Especially on draft day, right?

Enter 5-11, 197-pound Louis Delmas, Detroit's third - and final - selection of the day

You know, the pick where everyone wanted a large linebacker.

Delmas can't play linebacker. But don't confuse that with an inability to hit.

"He plays big," said Lions GM Martin Mayhew on what was a relatively surprise selection. "We felt that size is not an issue and he plays bigger than what he weighs."

He's right.

If you watch any highlight video of Delmas, it usually involves a flash (that would be him) and some poor receiver appearing and then instantly disappearing from the video frame. It was that ability that led Detroit to show interest in Delmas dating back to February's Senior Bowl, where he shined.

The Lions talked with Delmas a few times leading up to Saturday. Considered the best safety in the draft, Delmas' style is already drawing some hefty comparisons.

Mayhew compared him to Baltimore's Ed Reed and Pittsburgh's Troy Polomalu, two of the top safeties in the league. Neither feature imposing size, but their respective physicality has notoriety across the league.

Head coach Jim Schwartz, who required a run-stopping, do-it-all safety, took it a step further.


Western Michigan's Louis Delmas (performing at the NFL combine) is a hard-hitter that has drawn some favorable comparisons.
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"He is versatile. He's a playmaker. He's got corner in his background," said Schwartz. "He can cover a third wide receiver. Plays the pass and plays the run. He's aggressive. Martin (Mayhew) talked about guys like Ed Reed; talked about Troy Polomalu. Also a guy like Bob Sanders.

"He's a tempo-setter, he's an attitude player - (we're) excited about him."

Schwartz also believed that Delmas held some of the same characteristics of the safeties he utilized in Tennessee. In Schwartz's defensive scheme, Delmas will be paired with another hard-hitter, Daniel Bullocks. Each possess great ball instincts and don't mind to throw their helmet around.

Considering Detroit's defense a year ago allowed 404 passing yards per game, any help -- including the secondary -- would be a dramatic upgrade.

"He fits everything in a profile that we're looking for: a four-year starter, two-time team captain, outstanding person, plays like a guided missile. Really exciting to watch and fits our philosophy in the back end, which is multi-dimensional players.

"Typically, if you look at where our defenses have been in Tennessee, we didn't have big, lumbering safeties; we had athletes and he's a vacuum cleaner that vacuums up all those runs to break the line of scrimmage."

So if the Pistons had the Microwave, does that make Delmas the Hoover? Whatever works.

Delmas is expected to start immediately in Detroit, where the team is weak at the position. Besides Bullocks, the Lions return two players that started at safety year -- Kalvin Pearson and Gerald Alexander, but Pearson is considered solid depth, but not starting material, while it isn't known how Alexander will respond from last year's neck injury.

Delmas, meanwhile, is ready to quiet the critics.

"I like to say pop in the film," said the WMU standout. I played against the best of the best and I performed every week out. There's no such thing as being too small. It's the fight in the dog, you know?"

"Once I hit somebody, it's the excitement - 'bang' I'm there. It's exciting."

Quotes to Note: Delmas patterns his game after Reed and veteran Brian Dawkins, stating "I look at those two dudes like man, their gods."

Asked whether excited to go up against former WMU teammate and current Green Bay WR Greg Jennings, he said: "Man, I'm about to take him in the minute and tell him don't slip up and come across the middle because it's going to be a rude awakening.

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