Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
With three selections in a 25-pick overall span in the fourth and fifth rounds, the Lions stocked up on young defenders.
Cornerback Nevin Lawson, the first pick of the trio, is more of a known commodity and appeared the most ready to contribute right away after starring at Utah State at the FBS level. He projects to be in a battle with Bill Bentley for the slot nickelback role.
It's the next two selections who are projects. Defensive end Larry Webster and defensive tackle Caraun Reid are both coming from lower levels and need some development to prove they belong at the NFL level.
Reid, the team's fifth-round pick, hails from Princeton and is the more advanced of the two linemen. He turned in decent performances while matched up with the big boys during the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl practice sessions.
He stands a decent chance of making the rotation as the fourth defensive tackle behind Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and C.J. Mosley. I recently broke down Reid's game, noting he must add some aggressiveness and polish his technique.
There are going to be some growing pains, as Josh Katzenstein of The Detroit News reported:
Webster is even greener despite the fact his father, Larry, played in the NFL for many years. The younger Webster was a basketball player until getting back into football two years ago at Division II Bloomsburg.
He was also at Shrine Game week, and to say I was not impressed with what I saw is an understatement:
The Lions selected Webster with the 136th overall pick knowing he was an athletic project. It's his impressive athleticism that gives Webster a chance. Coach Jim Caldwell said as much during camp, in a story related by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press:
Obviously, he's a guy that certainly has explosion. He has speed, he has quickness, he's intelligent. ... And working with him out here, I think our guys on our defensive line have been pleased with where he is right now.
As with Reid at tackle, the fourth defensive end spot is up for grabs. Webster faces tougher competition from veteran Darryl Tapp, but if he can continue to impress with his quick learning curve, the rookie should snag the fifth end role at worst. That's a spot on the 53-man roster, though typically a game-day inactive.
The Lions held on to defensive line coach Kris Kocurek from the Schwartz regime in part because of his ability to develop raw young talent. Kocurek made players out of Sammie Lee Hill and Willie Young. He's got lots of work to do with his young lieges, but they both bring an awful lot to work with.