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When teams come off a 4-12 season there is ample opportunity for rookies to step right into prominent roles. These Lions are no exception.
I've mentioned Ziggy Ansah in other areas already. That underscores just how valuable the first-round pick is to this franchise. He is not the only rookie that will start on defense, however.
Second-round pick Darius Slay quickly asserted himself and overtook several competitors to win the starting right cornerback job. The Mississippi State product offers great length and speed. He's also very aggressive with the ball in the air, a point of emphasis for the defense.
Third-round pick Larry Warford is likely to start at right guard. Even if he doesn't begin the 2013 season as the starter, the odds are good he will play a lot and take over the gig sooner than later. It depends on how quickly he can handle the speed of the NFL.
Fourth-round pick Devin Taylor will be a rotational player on the defensive line and will see action on special teams.
Fifth-round pick Sam Martin will be the Lions punter for as long as he wants to be. I cringed when the team used a draft pick on a punter, but throughout the preseason Martin validated the decision.
Undrafted rookie LaAdrian Waddle worked his way up the depth chart and will be at minimum the top reserve tackle. He played well enough to merit consideration for the starting job at right tackle, which I chronicled recently.