How much improvement can the Lions defense make?

Romeo Okwara, Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Romeo Okwara, Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /
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Jamie Collins, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Jamie Collins, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Concerns at linebacker

The secondary is considered a big concern. It is prominently inhabited by players with a limited ceiling or inexperience. Yet despite all the worries over the Lions’ last line of defense, that isn’t the biggest problem on that side of the ball to me.

I am still more concerned about the linebackers than any other position outside of receiver.

The talent at linebacker pretty much starts and ends with Jamie Collins. Last season he tallied 101 tackles in what appeared to be a lackluster season. However, there are two factors we need to take into account. The defensive line did little to help out the linebackers last year and Collins isn’t good enough to make up for two or three other linebackers on the field playing poorly.

Fourth-round pick Derrick Barnes has speed and is a very solid tackler. He has the ability to go sideline to sideline and finish the play by making the tackle. However, how long will it take the rookie to earn playing time?

Beyond Barnes, the only other linebacker acquisition of note is Alex Anzalone. He is an upgrade to  Christian Jones, but it’s not like he’s a difference-maker. Anzalone is solid, can play inside and out, has the ability to help in pass coverage, and won’t embarrass himself.

That still leaves the position a little thin.

The announcement that Trey Flowers will be used at linebacker will give them another body in their base 3-4 defense to stop the run. I suspect he will still be rotated alone the defensive line too or at least be used to contribute to the rush off the edge.

This could also be the case for Romeo and Julian Okwara. Both could bring pressure off the edge from end or standing up. Our hope is that the mix and match combined with an improved defensive line will work to help mask the limited amount of talent at linebacker.

If Aaron Glenn can pull this off, then he is well on his way to being considered one of the fast-rising coaches in the NFL.

But despite the concern at linebacker that doesn’t mean the importance of improved play in the secondary should be overlooked.