How our roster fits
The Lions have run a lot of nickel, but are often in a 4-3 scheme, meaning two ends and two tackles up front, and three linebackers behind them.
Looking at the typical Patriots nickel, I believe we could fill seven positions as of the end of the year.
Not many linemen on defense are under contract, (you can look at the Sportrac website) so it’s an area where the Lions could acquire talent via the draft and free agency to fit multiple fronts.
Zettel and Robinson are starters. Both men could offer some versatility to Patricia if he employs multiple looks game-by-game.
The others might fit into a rotation, similar to what they have been doing.
There is no big, space-eating nose tackle to run a traditional 3-4, if you’re following.
Of note: end Ziggy Ansah is a possible franchise tag recipient, but Bob Quinn has not decided, yet.
Ansah could play several positions in a Patriots style defense. He is both athletic enough to handle playing in space as a 3-4 outside backer, and he can play traditional 4-3 end.
The Lions only have two men under contract currently: inside backer, Jarrad Davis, and outside backer, Jaylen Reeves-Maybin. Davis and Reeves-Maybin both just finished their rookie campaigns.
The Lions could try to re-sign Tahir Whitehead, who played on the weak side last year, but as of now, they have almost no one. That could be good for retooling a weak area of the team.
Both first year players showed some flashes and improved throughout the season. Davis has the kind of athleticism to play almost anywhere, but he struggled in coverage. JRM played in nickel situations and could provide another option there, next season.
I would guess that some free agent money would be allocated here and a couple of guys brought in.