With the NFL preseason set to kick off in exactly one month the Detroit Lions still have some glaring holes in their defensive front. While they have shored up the defensive this off season, there are still a few openings that need to be addressed.
The first hole most people would notice would be the linebacker position. While I would have to disagree, I say they need to find another defensive end to play opposite of Kyle Vanden Bosch.
Slated to play on the left defensive end right now is Cliff Avril or Jared DeVries. While Avril came into the off season with an extra 10 pounds of muscle to his frame and a great work ethic, he still needs to produce on the field.
In Avril’s two seasons with the Lions he’s only had 5.5 and 5.0 sacks respectively in 28 games, not exactly an impressive number. Now you could say that with the improved players around him with Suh, Vanden Bosch, and Corey Williams it will elevate his stats, I wonder if it will hinder the others more.
Jared Devries has been a solid player coming off the bench he has never shown the consistency to be an every down player. 2007 was his best season by far recording 6.5 sacks, other than that one season though his highest total has been 3.
Without a solid left end it’s going to allow teams to double team Suh and leave one of the ends one on one against the offensive tackle, that will put the pressure on the weaker line backers we have.
With free agents still available at the DE position like Charles Grant who was released from New Orleans and Greg Ellis from Oakland available, they would provide for a formidable upgrade to the front four.
While Grant’s production hasn’t been the greatest over the past few seasons, he has shown that he can be extremely productive. During his first three seasons in the league he recorded 28.0 sacks, and 38.5 overall for his career. That is also the most sacks by a single player for the Saints since 1968.
While there are legal issues pending with a possible civil suit against him for a 2008 shooting, the involuntary manslaughter charges have been dismissed. The other obstacle to overcome would be his stating that he would like to play for the Falcons, Titans, or Panthers, but with the Schwartz having the Tennessee pedigree that could be overcome.
While Greg Ellis is getting older he didn’t show any signs that he was slowing down at the beginning of the 2009 season, with a drop off later due to injuries. Having Avril and DeVries with the team it would allow for substitutions to keep the ends fresh and able to make plays.
By upgrading the defensive line further it would also help the young linebackers and defensive backs by creating pressure in the trenches. The running backs would have a harder time getting off the line of scrimmage, and the secondary would have to cover for a shorter time.
How many times last season did opposing quarterbacks have all day to sit back in the pocket and let receivers get open? Against our secondary even the most average of QB’s looked like hall of fame caliber players.