Sophomore Leadership on Display at Middle Line Badger: DeAndre Levy

John FarrierCorrespondent IJuly 1, 2010

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 18: DeAndre Levy #54 of the Detroit Lions awaits the start of play against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on October 18, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Lions 26-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

As the end of the Second Round of the 2009 NFL Draft came to a close, and it was announced that the Detroit Lions were on the clock with their pick atop the Third Round, I had my pick in mind, ready to turn in the card (it would have been Jarron Gilbert).

Of course, the Lions rarely do as I would, so excitement was sure to follow.

With some very good looking prospects sitting on the board atop the Third Round, Martin Mayhew was approached by the NY Jets with a trade down that would allow the Jets to select former Iowa RB Shonn Greene with the 65th overall pick in the Draft.

In exchange for the Lions pick, the NY Jets traded picks they had acquired from New Orleans (76th overall, Third Round), and Washington (115th overall, Fourth Round).

The Lions used those selections to pick DeAndre Levy, who played outside linebacker at Wisconsin, and Sammie Lee Hill, who played his last two seasons at D-II Stillman College (D-III enrollment) as a “shut-down” defensive end.

One of my professors at the Woodbridge School for Wayward Boys used to talk about being an “agent of change”.

He said we would need to be highly adaptable and be fearless in the face of change, embracing it, and championing the cause of “delta”.

For more on “change”, see the classic Brady Bunch episode.

You know the one.  Peter was going through changes.  He had to rearrange.

The Detroit Lions front office selected Levy and Hill with the express intention of changing their positions in the NFL.

Time to move inside and become “the man in the middle”. 

And then came the announcement, “With the 76th pick in the NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select (now I’m hoping it’s Kraig Urbik)…

"DeAndre Levy, Linebacker, Wisconsin."


Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over? 

That’s right.

Tom “Killer” Kowalski, from mlive, called another pick in an article where he stated that, if Levy was available in later rounds, the Lions were going to draft him.

And they did.

Now how in the heck did this group of personnel evaluators come up with the notion that Levy should be drafted 150 places ahead of his draft projection???

I was baffled.  My words were far, far less than kind.

Why did they do this to us?

Because Schwartz knew.

Who was the scout who wrote the player evaluation for the organization who would draft Ray Lewis?

That’s right.  Herr Schwartz.

I felt a tremendous amount of redemption when the Lions hit my next pick on the head, and Sammie Lee Hill became the pick in the Fourth Round.

Regardless, I would take a pessimistic view at the prospects for success when the franchise passed on Clay Matthews III, Ray Maualuga, and James Laurinaitis, in favor of a guy they happened to pick up on film while they were scouting Ohio State RB Beanie Wells.

Now that we are a year removed from the pick, there’s no doubt that DeAndre Levy is emerging as the Lions new Middle Line Badger.

Here is his NFL Combine profile:


In the overview, they said:

Scouts consider Levy a good second-day prospect at strong-side linebacker. The 2008 honorable mention All-Big Ten pick isn't a flashy playmaker (although he did have 193 tackles, 26.5 for loss and 14 sacks the past three years), but does all of the little things well. His speed is underrated, and that athleticism will endear him to teams come campus workout time.


The following is his NFLDraftScout profile:


Looking for one of Schwartz’ favorite characteristics among draftees?

“Levy started his last 39 games of his career, seeing action in 50 contests.”

A couple more positives from NFLDraftScout before moving on:

Body Structure: Levy has a developing frame with good overall muscle development, toned arms, tight waist, broad shoulders, thick chest, thick thighs and knotted calves. He added 10 pounds of bulk to his frame recently with no loss of his impressive timed speed, but will need to add more weight to compete in the NFL, especially if he hopes to remain at strong-side linebacker.

Athletic Ability: Levy is a good athlete with just adequate hip snap, but shows good speed, burst, agility and a physical demeanor. He plays at a low pad level and has a sudden burst to explode past blockers coming off the edge. He has just adequate strength, but is active using his hands to gain leverage and shed. He also is quite effective at using his wing span to reach out and drag down ball carriers from behind or just wrap and secure them.

Put it all together and you’re talking about a very athletic kid who played a good many meaningful snaps thought the course of his career in Madison, and was coached by some of the most respected men in all of college football.

Plus, playing in front of the faithful at Camp Randall Stadium is a wonderful thing that gets a player accustomed to a “loud” environment.

One drawback assessment about the 6’2” 238 pound Levy was his “NFL comparison” to former Wisconsin LB and Lions draftee Alex Lewis.

That kind of let’s the air out of the balloon if you’re a Detroit Lions fan.

Either that or the sound of a Bronx cheer, take your choice.

What we learned in 2009 was to begin to trust “da Schvartz” (yes, you’re thinking Spaceballs right now).

“Baltimore Jimmy” has been a great fit with Lions fans and the people of Detroit.

When you get tough kids from tough towns, the kids know what’s up.

The son of Baltimore cop is bent on restoring order to a once-proud franchise.

DeAndre Levy spent most of the 2009 season outside, but moved to his future position at Middle Line Badger (yes, don’t forget he who dubs the monikers of the chosen) when Larry Foote was lost for the final two games of the season.

We had a Middle Line Buckeye that wore the number first and played the same position, so what of it?

(Sandler, chardonnay…)

In his December 15, 2009 article, Draft redux: Re-projecting the 2009 First Round , based on season-to-date performances, Don Banks “re-picks” from the perspective of production:


Don “shows a lot of love” for Lions draft picks, because Banks puts Stafford (No. 2 to Rams), Delmas (No. 18 to Broncos), Pettigrew (same), and Levy all in his revised First Round of draft picks.

Banks has Levy going to the Tennessee Titans with the 30th overall selection at the end of the First Round.

But if Keith Bulluck 's days in Tennessee are nearing an end, Levy would be a good replacement. Detroit's third-round pick has been a solid, steady contributor this season, starting eight games for a Detroit defense that has nowhere to go but up.

Gunther Cunningham has oft mentioned Levy’s progress throughout the past season, and Gunther’s mindset is for Levy to take over in the middle, become more vocal, call the plays, make adjustments, and emerge as a leader on defense.

Cunningham said he’s never seen a young linebacker like DeAndre Levy, and if he continues to develop at the pace at which the coaching staff believes possible, the 2010 Detroit Lions defense will benefit greatly.

When the Detroit Lions were looking for a three-down linebacker in the 2009 NFL Draft, DeAndre Levy was really the last guy I thought about in that capacity.

After passing on other talented prospects at the linebacker position, most notably Clay Matthews III and James Laurinaitis, I thought the Lions might look to solidify the “revolving door” at left guard with the selection of Kraig Urbik, Antoine Caldwell, or Louis Vasquez.

Again the front office got it right and the 2010 Detroit Lions find their Middle Line Badger of the future at a great value with the 76th overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Levy’s 2010 salary is a meager $395,000, and he is slated to earn $480,000 in 2011 before becoming a free agent in 2012. 

It makes you wonder if Julian Peterson will be giving a portion of his loot back to the franchise or splitting it up with Levy.

When I was in recruiting command, if a recruiter failed to make mission, the leadership would routinely “suggest” the recruiter return his special duty pay to Uncle Sam for not having “earned” it that month, and we’re talking about $275-350, not millions.

The New York Jets may have landed a darn-good running back, but by trading back 11 spots and picking up an extra Fourth Round pick, Martin Mayhew provided the Lions defense with speed, strength, and athleticism to defend the middle of the field with the additions of DeAndre Levy and Sammie Lee Hill.

The recent additions of Corey Williams and Ndamukong Suh may relegate Hill to rotational or backup duty this fall.

For tenured Lions fans, when you think of Detroit Lions No. 54, one man comes to mind:

Chris Spielman.

Chris was the heart and soul of the Detroit Lions and was the MLB for the last “great” Detroit Lions defense (it has been 17 seasons!).

When Chris was wearing No. 36 as a senior in Columbus, I was wearing No. 36 as a freshman MLB for a small D-III college in Watertown, Wisconsin.

Spielman was indeed “the man”. 

My hope is that the power of No. 54 descends upon DeAndre Levy, and that he becomes the long-term solution at MLB for seasons to come.

With a retooled defensive line in front of him, DeAndre Levy could emerge as one of the premier middle linebackers in the NFC.

Levy should have to “think less” during his second year in Cunningham’s system, which should allow him to play faster, hit harder, cover better, and create more turnovers.

The Lions need a defense that can create turnovers, and it needs to start in the mind’s eye of DeAndre Levy.

Lookout NFC North—Middle Line Badger on the loose!