Detroit Lions May Still Have Needs in Their LB Corps
The number one complain I am hearing from Detroit Lions fans right now is that they failed to address issues in the defensive secondary, and in their LB corps during the 2011 NFL draft. I found an interesting article in yesterday's Detroit Free Press where Linebackers coach, Matt Burkle, said he was encouraged by the current group of Lions linebackers.
Most Lions fans will read that, and feel very afraid. As a life long Lions fan I fully expected them to address this need early in this year's draft, and by no way do I feel that are set at this position.
With the addition of Auburn DT Nick Fairley I feel a heck of a lot better about DeAndre Levy playing in the middle. He is still recovering from groin surgery, and he had a pretty good 2010 with 72 tackles and two interceptions. It is at the outside spots were I get pretty concerned.
Currently the Lions roster sports Ashlee Palmer, Vinny Ciurciu, Bobby Carpenter and Zach Follett at the two outside LB spots. Depending on how the new Collective Bargaining Agreement gets worked out Carpenter could be an unrestricted free agent. Follett is recovering from a serious neck injury, and the recently drafted Doug Hogue is a developmental project.
Palmer had 45 tackles and a sack in 2010, while Follett was in on 21 take downs, and Carpenter was in on 30 stops. Those numbers seem to indicate that an upgrade is in order.
I would feel ok if Levy were playing the middle, while one outside spot was being manned by a Palmer, Carpenter, and Follett rotation, and this team went out and signed or traded for an impact player to play the other side. Maybe a pass rushing specialist who could assist the Lions front seven in getting after opposing QB's.
Of course in all of this we have to remember that the Lions like to move DT Ndamukong Suh around and have him blitz from different positions on the field. With Corey Williams, and Sammie Lee Hill joining Suh and Fairley in the DT rotation I could see many instances were the Lions stand Suh up and have him play as a LB.
Even with all of that it seems imperative that the Lions go out and add a linebacker once the labor mess is behind us.