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An Answer at Linebacker

Similar to the way the first snowfall in December signifies the approaching Christmas holiday for ten-year-olds, Good Friday is just around the corner to let Lions fans know that the NFL Draft is just a few days away.

But with a few not-so-good holes on the roster, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, SideLion Report investigates whether or not the linebacker and cornerback position can be shored up by the draft alone.

Hoping to build on the success of last year’s four-game win streak to close out the season, Martin Mayhew and company will have to surround world-beater Ndamukong Suh with a steady supporting cast if the franchise hopes to finally make a playoff push. This means drafting a linebacker or cornerback is a must.

Dissecting who the Lions will pick with lucky number 13 is tricky. Unless the heavens part and Prince Amukamara somehow is able to join his former collegiate teammate Suh, a can’t-miss prospect will probably not be available. This is why the organization has brought in a plethora of positions (DE, LB, RB, OT, CB) for observation and why it might also make sense for Mayhew to trade out of number 13 and stockpile draft picks.

But unless a new collective bargaining agreement is completed in time it will be challenging to trade pick for pick without other players involved, especially in the first round. If the Lions think there isn’t a player in that draft slot worth taking, then it’s going to take some Bill Clinton-like brain washing to get a trade finalized. So, free agency may be the most convenient route towards fixing holes, especially at linebacker.

It should be accepted that Mayhew wants to take a page out of Packers General Manager Ted Thompson’s book and build from within the draft. However the Lions still do not have the luxury at this time thanks to Matt Millen. Remember him?

Sticking with the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality, DeAndre Levy is solid and should remain the starting middle linebacker. And while Mayhew and the front office have put their faith, at least verbally, in the current outside core of Bobby Carpenter, Lawrence Jackson, Ashlee Palmer, and Zack Follett, some changes need to be made. While the current group is full of that scary word “potential”, it is also chalked full of mediocrity and hopeful wishing.

Below are three reasonably priced unrestricted free agents that could help this team’s ascent towards a trip to the playoffs.

Rocky McIntosh
• McIntosh was able to accumulate 110 tackles last year in a system that doesn’t fit his skill set. He plays the run well and shows versatility in playing inside but can be exposed on the perimeter. A definite upgrade over anybody on the Lions roster.

James Anderson
• Anderson amassed 101 solo tackles last year at the strong side position. He is very stout against the run but again can show vulnerabilities on his drops in pass coverage. A strong step above mediocrity in many views.

Leroy Hill
• Perhaps one of the more intriguing free agent prospects on the market. Hill has good size and speed and is one mean man. However, he is coming off of a year where he didn’t play because of an achilles injury and has run into trouble with both drugs (marijuana) and domestic issues. The strong possibility exists that if put into a good support system he can again play football at a high level. He could be cheap and a solid producer on the outside.

About the Author: Drew Wallace was born a Detroit Lions fan in a family from Michigan. Transplanted to Wisconsin surrounded by the disgusting colors of green and yellow. He graduated with a communications degree from UW-Oshkosh and now works as a Regional Sales Representative in the steel industry in Milwaukee. On Sunday’s you can spot him in a silver and light blue jersey hoping to one day witness Ndamukong Suh’s inaugural NFL playoff game

Edited by; Paul Fladten

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Tags: Detroit Lions James Anderson LeRoy Hill Linebacker Rocky McIntosh

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