Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
One of the more unheralded Lions needs was depth along the defensive line. Not anymore.
With a flurry of lower-profile signings, the Lions replenished the depth at both tackle and end.
In the last week the Lions have signed:
- Defensive tackle Corvey Irvin
- Defensive tackle Vaughn Martin
- Defensive end Darryl Tapp
These are the sort of signings that generally draw a collective yawn from fans. None of these players will start.
In fact, Irvin and Martin are likely fighting for the same roster spot as the No. 4 defensive tackle in what was often a three-man rotation in recent years.
Yet these moves bring a veteran presence to the depth chart without busting the budget.
If he's fully recovered from sports hernia surgery, Martin could be a useful reserve. As Kyle Meinke of MLive notes, Martin (pictured) was a productive starter in San Diego from 2011-12.
Tapp essentially replaces Willie Young at end. It's a very fitting addition for Detroit:
Tapp has the same number of sacks (6) over the last four seasons as Young, who signed (h/t Chicago Tribune) with the rival Chicago Bears about 90 minutes prior to Tapp's inking in Detroit.
While Tapp's contract details have yet to be released, it's safe to assume it's for far less than the three-year, $9 million that Young got in Chicago.
With a healthy Jason Jones and an emerging Devin Taylor, the Lions are in decent shape at the end position across from 2013 first-rounder Ezekiel Ansah.
Tapp saves money and offers the same productivity as Young, and his experience in multiple defensive fronts during his journeyman career—the Lions are his fourth team in six years—gives Detroit more flexibility.
Building up the bottom of the roster with affordable deals to useful veterans goes in hand with Mayhew's strategy of attacking the draft with no major holes. These seemingly minor moves strengthen Detroit's ability to focus on best available player at every spot in the draft and not worry so much about position.