Mon, 08 Mar 2021

New Lions GM Brad Holmes excited to get to work in Detroit

Detroit Lions
20 Jan 2021, 00:25 GMT+10

Tim Twentyman

Brad Holmes was born into a football family. Holmes' father, Melvin, played in the NFL. His uncle, Luther Bradley, was a first-round draft pick of the Lions in 1978. His grandfather was a long-time high school coach, and his cousin, Alex Barron, was a first-round draft pick.

But there was one particular moment when the newly appointed Lions general manager knew with 100 percent certainty he wanted to work in the NFL.

"When I fell in love with it was in the eighth grade," Holmes told detroitlions.com. "It was the day I knew the draft was coming on TV. I lived within walking distance to our school and I'll admit that I skipped school to watch the draft.

"I skipped school and watched the draft and I'll never forget it was the 1993 draft with Jerome Bettis. They were talking about the traits and showing the highlights and I just got enamored with it. They were showing the general managers and the coaches going over reports and I fell in love with it.

"Then fast forward ... my senior year in high school was the 1997 draft, and I'll never forget, it was Renaldo Wynn and they were just showing highlights of how quick he was getting off the ball and I just said, 'Look, I don't know what's going to happen with my football career, but at some point, I'm getting into scouting. I just fell in love with it.'"

Holmes' football career led him to North Carolina A&T where he was a team captain and defensive tackle that helped A&T win the Black College National Championship in 1999.

He joined the Los Angeles Rams organization after college as a public relations intern in 2003, and then transitioned into working in the Rams scouting department in 2004. He turned that opportunity into an 18-year career with the Rams, working his way up from a national combine scout, area scout and national scout before becoming the director of college scouting in 2013 and one of Rams GM Les Snead's most trusted members of the front office.

He's now directing all that passion and experience into turning the Detroit Lions into a winning organization.

"It means the world to me to be able to put my best foot forward through a collaborative approach and hopefully deliver the No. 1 football product to the City of Detroit," Holmes said. "I hear so much about this fan base and they're so passionate and they're showing up through and through.

"I know the general manager role and that's the name of the position, but I truly see it as a service role. My No. 1 job is to serve the City of Detroit a No. 1 football product and hopefully uplift the community in that regard."

2020 position breakdown: Cornerbacks Lions announce Reserve/Future signings Lions agree to terms with Brad Holmes to become team's new Executive Vice President and General Manager

It doesn't take long talking with Holmes to feel the passion he has for the game and for team building.

Holmes said he felt Detroit was the perfect fit after going through the interview process with Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp, team president Rod Wood and special assistant Chris Spielman.

"My first interview with the Lions, I got off and I told my wife, I said, 'I wasn't expecting that.' I had already been through an interview the day before and I thought it was going to be very similar, but it felt completely different," Holmes said.

"I've always used the analogy that I felt like we were sitting around a fireplace just getting to know each other. I truly believe that is the mindset and vision of Mrs. Hamp. She just has a genuine soul. When I got off that call I just said, 'she's who you want to win for.' She just has that type of spirit.

"It was just a first-class process every step of the way with the dialogue, all the way up to (last) Wednesday, when I was awarded the job. It's been first class and it just felt right. I'm just so excited and I can't wait to get started."

Holmes has some work to do turning around a five-win Lions team that has missed the postseason four straight years. He is big into analytics, critical thinking and the use of technology to advance scouting techniques and accelerate scouting processes.

"I'm under the belief that just because scouting has been done one way, it doesn't have to be done the same way all the time," he said. "Let's utilize that technology. That's something we will definitely utilize here with the Lions."

Holmes said he is a long-term, long-vision and long-view thinker.

"Everything is about succession plans," he said. "That's just how I'm permanently wired. That's how I view personnel. That's how I view football. That's how I view my own personal life.

"I just think making sure you're aware of all possible angles and all possible outcomes that could happen, I think is very, very critical. I'll admit I'm a nerd about predictive science and forecasting and I am because I think that's our job. Our job is to predict the future and I'm also a little bit of a nerd about the psychology of the process."

Holmes said he likes some of the building blocks in place in Detroit. He talked about the quarterback position and Matthew Stafford, a lot of "intriguing" upside along the offensive line, and a young running back in D'Andre Swift who Holmes called exciting and explosive.

On defense, he said rookie cornerback Jeff Okudah has a lot of upside, ability and a high ceiling. He said the defense also has some developmental upside pieces.

In the end, Holmes said Detroit just felt like the perfect situation for him to take the next step in his career, which is collaboratively running the personnel and football operations with the hope of bringing a consistent winner to Detroit.

The next big task for the Lions is finding their head coach. Holmes said some of the traits he's looking for in the next head coach is a person who's a leader of men, someone who has command and presence, and within that presence, is confident, poised, mentally tough and has a high passion to develop players and build through the draft with a relatively young team.

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