There has been a recent barrage of reporting about the need for Detroit to add a third linebacker. From Tim Twentyman on the official team website, to Kyle Meinke at MLive to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, many people have riffed on the same theme.
This is not a coincidence.
Under previous coach Jim Schwartz, the Lions base defense was a 4-2-5, with just two linebackers and three cornerbacks. The third linebacker, Ashlee Palmer, played 367 of a possible 1,067 defensive snaps, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
The third cornerback role, which was filled by a combination of Bill Bentley and Darius Slay, played 851 snaps. That's more than double the amount of snaps that Palmer took.
That is going to change under the new coaching staff.
Palmer remains on the roster, as does Tahir Whitehead. Yet the player the team wants, the "flamethrower" that Jim Caldwell is looking for in the above articles, is not currently in Detroit.
There are limited options in free agency. James Harrison, a 35-year-old coming off a year with just two sacks who played essentially the same role in Cincinnati, is the best option on the market right now.
Guys like O'Brien Schofield, Erin Henderson and Stephen Nicholas are not likely the answer, either.
Detroit will have several options in the draft.
Khalil Mack or Anthony Barr should get consideration at the No. 10 overall pick. Mack is widely projected to be long gone, but Barr could be available. I explored his Detroit potential in March.
Kyle Van Noy, Demarcus Lawrence and Jeremiah Attaochu offer potential in the second round with the 45th overall pick. While Van Noy could be gone, the others might be available. They have been listed in mock drafts in that range, including recently by Walter Football.
In the third round, options include Carl Bradford, Jordan Tripp and Trevor Reilly. All are considered second- or third-round prospects by CBSSports.com.
Expect the Lions to address the position—the last remaining starting spot open at this point—before the end of the draft's second day.