Detroit Lions rookie Josh Paschal thinks of himself as a big defensive end.
The Lions used a second-round pick on Paschal in this year's NFL Draft because they think he's a versatile player who can play on the edge and move inside in certain situations. That's exactly how Paschal said he's being used early on.
"I think I fit as a big defensive end," Paschal said during rookie minicamp. "That's what we're called. I feel like I can play across the front, but particularly on the edge, and kick inside for the run game, I can do that too. I'll help be a versatile piece on the defense."
Paschal measured 6-foot-3 and 268 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, but says he's around 275 right now. He's a terrific athlete for his size, running the 40 in 4.77 and also recording a 37.5-inch vertical with a 10'3" broad jump. He's quick off the ball. He attacked gaps and got into the backfield as a second-team All-SEC performer a year ago for Kentucky.
Paschal is a crafty defender who finished his collegiate career No. 3 in school history with 37.0 tackles for loss (tied with Bud Dupree, who has 42.5 sacks in seven NFL seasons).
Paschal played in a 3-4 scheme at Kentucky, but they moved into a four-man front often, he said. The Lions are an attacking 4-3 front this year under defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and defensive line coach Todd Wash.
"That means to go," Paschal said of the front he's getting coached to play in Detroit. "For the 3-4 front at Kentucky it was more react attack. You would read the blocks first, but here, you're just attacking."
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The Lions were more of a read and react front last year, but they've changed up their schemes and want to attack more. Paschal said he's going to have fun playing in this scheme, and thinks he can make a lot of plays in it.
Also a three-year captain for the Wildcats, Paschal is a terrific leader.
"It's pretty rare," he said of being a three-year captain at Kentucky. "I was the only one from Kentucky to do that, but it was more of me learning from other leaders throughout my time at Kentucky. Throughout my life I've been blessed to be around great leaders and I just picked up on that and a lot of people are helping me become that leader that I am."
His teammates at Kentucky saw how Pascal carried himself through his cancer diagnosis in 2018, when he had to push himself through treatment, but was also still an encouraging leader on the team.
It's a pretty strong veteran defensive line room in Detroit with Michael Brockers, Romeo Okwara, Alim McNeill, Levi Onwuzurike, Julian Okwara, John Penisini and others. There are veteran players Paschal can learn from early on his career.