Join us each day as we count down towards the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. The countdown runs from 50 to zero and the number of days remaining will inspire the post for that day. Think of this as your NFL draft paper chain that loses one link each day!
49 days remain until the first round of the 2011 NFL draft. Tasked with using the number 49 to inspire this edition of the countdown, it came to mind how the Lions’ situation with Zack Follett (jersey number 49!) could shape the upcoming draft.
Follett entered the 2010 season as a starting outside linebacker opposite Julian Peterson. The former seventh round draft pick was an impact player on special teams the year before and was given an opportunity to show what he could do as a regular member of the defense.
The Lions were hoping that Follett’s speed would be an asset to their defense. While it may have become such with more experience it never showed in his five games prior to a season ending neck injury. Follett’s uneven play and injury concerns have made outside linebacker one of the Lions’ biggest team needs this draft season, especially given the departure of Julian Peterson.
The bad news is that 2011 does not appear to be a banner year for outside linebacker prospects. Von Miller will surely be gone by the time the Lions pick at number 13 and more picks will have to come off the board before Akeem Ayers represents fair value based on current projections.
The Lions may be forced to take an outside linebacker somewhere between the second and fourth round. Even so, will he be an impact player? Only time will tell but the Lions staff was able to find a productive player in DeAndre Levy in 2009′s third round. Striking Gold again will go a long way towards solidifying the linebacking corps and allowing the defense to take another step forward.