Why Mekhi Wingo was a Huge Draft Steal for the Lions

Mekhi Wingo - LSU, Detroit Lions, NFL Draft

The Detroit Lions traded up in the sixth round of the 2024 NFL draft to select LSU defensive tackle Mekhi Wingo.

One usually doesn’t expect a sixth-round pick to contribute much, but Wingo could be different. There is a reason why he was available that late, but there’s also a boatload of things to like about this prospect, and the pros arguably far outweigh the cons.

This pick could pay huge dividends for Detroit.


Mekhi Wingo is an above-average pass-rusher

Wingo missed time with an injury in his previous college campaign, but his time on the field was highly impressive. Through only seven starts, the defensive tackle racked up 25 total tackles, 19 pressures, and 4.5 sacks. Those numbers are impressive, especially for an interior defender.

Although Wingo does lack the prototypical size for a defensive tackle, he’s quick and agile. His strength, aggression, and motor also show up on tape, all traits that make for a productive pass-rusher. Despite facing injuries and some physical limitations, Wingo was a constant disruptive force on LSU’s defensive line.


Having a player that can collapse the pocket from the interior is incredibly valuable for teams. That’s part of what makes the former LSU star so appealing.

Mekhi Wingo is a great run-stuffer

In addition to his other merits, Wingo can stuff a running back with the best of them. As a matter of fact, PFF credits the former LSU star as the No. 1 run stuffer at his position in all of the SEC last year.

A one-dimensional defensive lineman is only so valuable, but it appears that won’t be a problem in this case. The guy can do it all.

Dan Campbell prioritizes stopping the opposition’s run game, and Wingo’s ability to do so with regularity will earn him some playing time early. The former Tiger’s arsenal is too impressive to ignore.


Mekhi Wingo’s character is off the charts

Wingo’s intriguing profile goes beyond his physical characteristics.

For starters, he wore the famous No. 18 jersey at LSU. That jersey number is awarded to the player who most exemplifies extraordinary leadership, character, and perseverance at LSU. It’s an exclusive number, passed down from year to year. It’s a golden stamp of approval, a rock-solid confirmation that a player is outstanding not only physically but mentally, too. And Mekhi Wingo earned it. That’s not to be taken lightly, especially considering the pedigree of his team and the fact that the team captain only spent two years at the university.

Wingo also gritted through injury in his final collegiate season. He suffered a groin issue in the 2023 season opener but battled it to play (and produce) for the next several weeks before finally succumbing and having surgery. If that wasn’t impressive enough, he also attacked his rehab with a vengeance and was able to rejoin LSU for the team’s bowl game, yet another testament to his character.

Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes have made it no secret that they love to target guys with strong character, and Wingo fits that bill. There’s a certain amount of mental toughness and resilience needed to succeed in a league as competitive as the NFL. It appears Wingo has that and more.

Final thoughts

Wingo is far from a perfect prospect. He missed significant time with an injury in 2023, and he’s noticeably undersized for the defensive line — likely the reason why he fell as far as he did. With all that said, though, all signs point to him being a caliber of player far beyond that of what you might expect from someone drafted in the sixth round.

Wingo demonstrated constant improvement in college, physical traits, on-field production, and intangibles — it’s all there. Just like there’s a reason for him falling, there’s also a reason that many analysts projected the defensive lineman as a top-100 prospect. If Wingo translates to the league like it appears he can, the Lions will get excellent value from their 189th overall pick.

It’s hard to say with certainty how Wingo will perform in his upcoming rookie season, but it seems very reasonable to think that the former Tiger is going to make an impact.

Has Brad Holmes done it again?

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