When I heard the news the Lions re-signed defensive end Corey Smith, my first response was, “Yeah, that’s going to put them over the top…” Add in an eye roll, and you’d have the complete picture.
What I really love is the Detroit spin on the signing…
"In 2007, he played in all 16 games (two starts) for Detroit and set career highs with 32 tackles (14 solo), 2.5 sacks (11 yards) and 20 special teams tackles."
Considering it took Smith 5 NFL seasons to reach his career high in games played, tackles and sacks, and they are paltry numbers at that, tells you all you need to know. He’s a backup. If Smith is on the field during crunch time in 2008…Well, let’s not go there.
As for the defensive end position as a whole, there’s one actual player, a disappointment, and a couple of journeyman, and not much else.
Obviously, Dewayne White is going to start at one end. I’ll give the Lions credit on the White free agent signing. He was effective when healthy, which he was for approximately half the season. After getting hurt while scoring a TD on a fumble recovery during the Denver win, White was a non-factor. But when at full strength, White was one of the few defenders who could make game changing plays. (See his performances against Oakland, Tampa and Denver) With the loss of Shaun Rogers, someone on the d-line has to step up as a disruptive force. White would be my pick as the one lineman who could do so.
On the other side, the Lions’ best hope is Ikaika Alama-Francis, who was a reach as an ’07 2nd round pick/ He did nothing to change minds that he was a total reach, as conventional thinking said Alama-Francis would have been available lower in the draft. Anything would be a improvement over his rookie season, when he rarely saw the field.
Your 2nd round draft pick being activated for only 6 games is not what you expect from a player taken with that high of a pick. Your 2nd round pick needs to start, at the very least contribute. Alama-Francis did neither. Another season of Kalimba Edwards-esque production, and we can start calling Ikaika Alama-Francis an Edwards-like bust.
If the 2nd year end doesn’t start, then it’s Jared DeVries opposite White. But after 8 seasons, he is what he is, a serviceable depth guy on your line. Nothing more. Do want Devries as your starter over 16 games? Me neither.
The only other end on the Detroit depth chart is Claude Harriot. If you said, “Who?” then join the club! Turns out Harriot was a late signee to the Lions’ practice squad in December of both ’06 and ’07, after bouncing around the NFL Europe and the camps of the Bears, Giants and Lions since 2004. In so many words, that says training camp roster filler and tackling dummy.
I’d feel a lot better about the Lions’ d-line situation if there was another solid player somewhere in the mix, instead of question marks and journeymen. It would also help immensely if tackle Cory Redding would live up to his HUGE contract, and Alama-Francis to his draft position.
As it stands today, d-line is another position that will need to be addressed sometime during the draft.