Detroit Lions' 4 Backups Who Would Start for Other Teams
The Detroit Lions have done a superb job of accumulating talent recently, so much so that they have some backups who would start for other teams. General manager Martin Mayhew has done an excellent job of turning this team around. The Lions are no longer a guaranteed win on the schedule, as they are dangerous, and they have the talent to compete with any team in the NFL.
Danny Tuccitto and Rivers McCown of Espn.com put a list together of the teams in the NFL with the most talent under the age of 25, and the Lions were second overall.
It is not a rarity for an NFL team to have players who would start for other teams. Most teams can boast that a few of their depth players could start in other cities. This has not been something that the Lions have been able to do, until now.
Mayhew took over the Lions in 2008, and the roster was simply awful. The Lions roster was so devoid of NFL talent that it is amazing to look back on it. Mayhew has done such a marvelous job that there are a few players on the current roster who should start for other teams in the NFL.
The Detroit Lions selected Nick Fairley with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Most NFL experts considered him to be a steal for the Lions, and he was going to come in and help a pretty dominant defensive line get even scarier.
According to Pete Prisco of cbssports.com (h/t detroitfreepress.com), the Lions got an A+ for their selection of Fairley. The combination of Fairley and Ndamukong Suh was going to make one of the best defensive interiors in the NFL.
Fairley broke his foot in training camp, and he never truly recovered. He had a relatively quiet rookie season. He did show a few flashes, but a global view of rookie season gives the impression that he was a disappointment. The reality is that his foot was a problem all year.
Fairley is a powerful, physically imposing defensive tackle with a great get-off. He has a phenomenal first step, and he can split gaps and stop plays before they get started. He has a formidable physical presence, and he is a mean football player.
Fairley will be an extremely large part of the Lions defense in 2012, but he is still behind tackle Corey Williams on the depth chart. The Lions are fortunate to have a player like Fairley as part of their rotation at defensive line. It will pay massive dividends this year to have a player like Fairley, who will keep Suh and Williams fresh.
Fairley is a player that most teams would love to have, at least the teams that run a 4-3 defense. He is a player that teams can build around. His ability to penetrate gaps and command double teams is extremely valuable, and most defenses would be better with him starting for them.
The Lions acquired tight end Tony Scheffler in a three-way trade with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Denver Broncos. The Lions traded linebacker Ernie Sims to get Scheffler, and the Eagles sent a fifth-rounder to the Broncos. This has turned out to be a fantastic deal for the Lions.
Scheffler is a very capable tight end with exceptional speed and playmaking ability. He creates a mismatch because defenses like to try and cover him with a linebacker.
At 6’5” and 255 pounds, Scheffler is a gigantic, athletic tight end. According to combineresults.com, Scheffler ran a 4.54 second 40-yard dash at the 2006 NFL combine.
The tight end position is evolving, and teams are beginning to exploit the size and athleticism that tight ends can bring to the table. The New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots are on the cutting edge of this trend, with players like Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
Scheffler is talented enough to start for most teams in the NFL. Imagine him playing for the Chicago Bears. There are a bunch of teams that could use a player like Scheffler, as he has excellent hands and is an extremely talented red-zone threat.
The Lions use Scheffler in their passing game, and he is another weapon for Matthew Stafford. Scheffler is behind tight end Brandon Pettigrew on the Lions depth chart, but there would not be a significant drop in production if the Lions were to lose Pettigrew for any time.
The Detroit Lions selected Willie Young in Round 7 of the 2010 NFL draft. He is an undersized defensive end at 6’5” and 251 pounds, and the Lions selected him as a developmental player. He played only seven snaps during his rookie season.
Young emerged in 2011 as he showed that he could truly apply pressure on the quarterback. He produced quality numbers in a limited amount of time. Nathan Jahnke of profootballfocus.com has named Young the Lions “Secret Superstar” because of his production in a very limited role.
When it comes to pass rushing, Young has shown he can do it all in just one year as a part time player. While it's too early to call him an All-Pro because of the small sample size, it is certainly enough to want to see what more he can do.
Young is an emerging defensive end, and the specter of a Cliff Avril holdout puts him in a position to get more playing time. If Young can match his production with more playing time, he is going to be a pleasant surprise for the Lions.
The NFL is as pass happy as it has ever been, and with that comes the desire to find players that have the ability to get pressure on the quarterback. Young has shown that he is proficient in this area, and many teams in the NFL would love to find an exceptionally inexpensive player that can do what Young does.
He is behind a few players on the depth chart, but he is a talented pass rusher. Young is a player that a lot of teams would love to have on the edge of their defense.
Sammie Lee Hill
The Detroit Lions selected Sammie Lee Hill in Round 4 of the 2009 NFL draft. Hill came to the NFL from Stillman College, and the Lions drafted him as a player that they thought they could develop. He has played exceptionally well early in his career, and he is an essential depth player for the Lions.
Hill has a big body and is a player that is incredibly difficult to move. He gets outstanding leverage and does a fantastic job of stuffing the run. At 6’4” and 329 pounds, he is a monster in the middle of the Lions defense.
Hill does a great job of plugging gaps and making running backs move laterally along the line of scrimmage. This allows other members of the Lions defense to attack the ball and to make plays.
Hill is part of a rotation at defensive tackle. He does a great job of keeping other players fresh, and he is productive with the minutes he does get on the defensive line. He is a player that teams can win with, as his physicality gives him an edge over the offensive linemen across from him.
Hill would start for a majority of NFL teams that play a 4-3 defense. He does a superb job of eating up space so the players around him can get to the ball. This is an extremely underrated aspect in football and an area in which Hill excels. Successful NFL teams have rosters filled with players like Hill.
He is behind players like Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams and Nick Fairley on the depth chart, but he is a tremendously valuable player to the rotation that the Lions run at defensive tackle. Hill might be one of the players who take a positive step in 2012, and that means great things for the Lions.