Every NFL team enters the draft looking to improve their roster but the Detroit Lions had a more specific goal in mind. DetroitLions.com insider stated in a radio interview before the draft that the Lions hoped to get four starters out of their three-day haul.
With the draft class complete, did they find four new starters? That has to play out through training camp but I see four very strong candidates.
Ziggy Ansah – He may be regarded as a project but only in terms of reaching his full potential. Ansah had an impressive Senior Bowl game after a week of working with the Detroit Lions coaches. With the Lions looking for two new starters, Ansah should be penciled in as one immediately. With Jason Jones a presumed starter after signing as a free agent, Willie Young and fourth-round pick Devin Taylor.
Darius Slay – After drafting three cornerbacks a year ago and re-signing Chris Houston this offseason, I wouldn’t have been surprised if the Lions didn’t draft one this year – or at least not until very late. Their selection of Slay tells me they have big plans for him and see him as a superior prospect compared to their other young corners. Bill Bentley was able to earn a starting role a year ago so it stands to reason that Slay may be able to do the same. Bentley is likely Slay’s biggest competition standing in the way of a starting role.
Larry Warford – The Lions have a starting job available at right guard and while the Lions have some in-house candidates to fill the job, Larry Warford has ot be seen as the favorite after joining the team as a third-round draft pick. He comes in with a wealth of experience playing against top competition in the SEC and he projects as a strong contributor playing run or pass. Warford gives the Lions the anchor they didn’t have with Stephen Peterman although he will have to beat out Bill Nagy and Rodney Austin.
Sam Martin – When thinking of a starting lineup it is easy to think of just the 22 offensive and defensive positions. Is including the punter here as a starter cheating? Maybe. But the Lions wouldn’t have selected him in the fifth round if they didn’t expect him to handle punting duties in 2013. He will have to justify the Lions’ faith in him by at least matching what Blake Clingan does in training camp.