July 24, 2024

The Detroit Lions have a backup plan in case Terrion Arnold…

When Sione Vaki’s name was called in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL draft, there was some confusion among fans — and everyone else — surrounding the pick when the Utah standout safety was announced as a running back.

Brad Holmes, though, had a clear vision for Vaki. After looking back at how the player was used, his athletic traits and the downhill style in which he plays the game, it sure makes sense. And when the Lions general manager called Vaki “one of the better special teams players,” with four-phase ability, in the draft, that’s when the vision and the fit in Detroit truly came to life.

The NFL adopted new kickoff rules, and they’re looking at the Utah do-it-all piece to play a key role in how they prepare for that in terms of coverage and potentially as another kick returner.

“You’re looking at him at four corps in the return units as more of a blocker, but he can actually — the stuff that he can do with the ball in his hands,” Holmes said. “I first saw him when he had first made the switch when they got kind of short at running back there at Utah. They just had him fill in. But we were more so looking at him as a safety, but he looks so natural as a runner. I was like, ‘Wait, where did these backyard instincts of his come from of just him running the ball and making these plays?’

“Not only does he have these instincts that are (more) natural (than) we thought, he’s not even majoring in it. He just did that because they just got kind of shorthanded, and he was like, ‘Oh, you need a running back? I’ll help out.’ And he started making these plays running the ball and in the passing game. When I saw that, I was like, ‘He’s not even majoring in this and he’s looking like that?’”

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