Can this Detroit Lions’ sixth round selection prove himself enough through training camp and the preseason to make the roster and an impact this season?
Last season, one of the biggest issues hindering the Detroit Lions was their lack of pass rush. The Lions defense recorded a total of 26.0 sacks in 2016, which tied for 30th worst in the NFL.
One of the biggest reasons for this lack of pressure was the down year elite pass rusher Ziggy Ansah had, posting a career-low 2.0 sacks through 13 games. But the four-year veteran struggled with both ankle and shoulder injuries which hurt his effectiveness. It’s the franchise’s hope Ansah returns to form this season, after posting an amazing 14.5 sacks in 2015.
Still, Ansah can’t do it alone. The Lions hope the cast around Ziggy has improved, with surprising 2016 team sack leader Kerry Hyder (8.0) picking up his game last season. Detroit also brought in free agents like Akeem Spence, Cornelius Washington and Ego Ferguson to help bolster the D-line.
But recently, a Lions’ insider pointed out one of Detroit’s late round selections as being a defender to watch as training camp kicks off this weekend.
"“The sixth-round pick doesn’t possess the typical build of a Detroit defensive tackle, lacking the requisite bulk at just 280 pounds,” wrote Justin Rogers for The Detroit News. “But [Jeremiah Ledbetter’s] athleticism is impressive and could translate to some ability to disrupt the pocket as a pass rusher.”"
Touted as a possible fourth round pick, Ledbetter fell to the Lions at #205 in the sixth round. And the 6-foot-3, 285 pound tweener can play any spot along the defensive line. Although he doesn’t currently have the frame to be an effective run-stopper, Ledbetter’s motor could make him a nice rotational pass rusher. And although he faces some stiff competition, ESPN’s Michael Rothstein did project the rookie to make Detroit’s final 53-man roster.
During his two seasons at Arkansas, Jeremiah Ledbetter recorded 104 total tackles, 15.0 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks. The 23-year old will certainly be one to watch as Lions’ training camp begins.