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The 2010 NFL Draft: Detroit Lions' Success Depends on Defensive Line

Ismail AijazuddinContributor IFebruary 27, 2010

MIAMI - JANUARY 08:  (L-R) Keenan Calhoun #22, Gerald McCoy #93 and Adrian Taylor #86 of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrate a defensive stop against the Florida Gators during the FedEx BCS National Championship game at Dolphin Stadium on January 8, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

In 2009, the Detroit Lions' defensive line had about 14 sacks. Compare that to Denver's Elvis Dumervil, who alone had 17 sacks. Or Minnesota's Jared Allen, who accounted for 14.5 sacks.

Talk all around Detroit is about upgrading the defensive line, and that will be the single biggest reason for increased success in 2010. Improved secondary or not, without a better defensive line everyone will suffer.

The Lions already have a weak group of defensive backs, and when they have to try and cover receivers for about a minute each play, there will be problems. With absolutely no pass rush last season, Cleveland's quarterback Brady Quinn looked like another Brady we all know. If the defensive line is not addressed, expect another season with around two wins.

The good news is, this year's draft is full of talented linemen. The Lions hold the second pick, and are guaranteed either defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy. Both are arguably the best players in the 2010 NFL Draft. Even if the Lions manage to trade down the likes of Dan Williams or Jared Odrick could end up in Detroit.

At the other tackle, young Sammie Lee Hill will hopefully continue to get better after a year in the system. He, along with Grady Jackson, could rotate as some big space eaters who can clog up the running lanes. 

Defensive end is nowhere near set. Cliff Avril, the undersized end, had a decent season with 5.5 sacks, and could be part of a rotation. Jason Hunter also managed to get five sacks, and should be in the rotation. With Jared Devries gone, and Dewayne White disappointing, the end position sorely misses a solid, consistent performer. 

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Kyle Vanden Bosch is the one free agent end Detroit has a good chance of landing. He played under Jim Schwartz, and could definitely benefit the team. However, he is 31 years old and on the decline. Detroit may sign him, but that doesn't mean they won't turn to an end in the draft. 

If the Lions do indeed choose to draft a defensive end in the second or third rounds, they have many options that fit the bill. In round two, Corey Wootton out of Northwestern could be a perfect fit. He is big and quick, exactly what Jim Schwartz likes. At 280 pounds, he has size that Detroit lacks after the Tampa Two days of Rod Marinelli. 

In the third round, another match for Detroit could be Greg Hardy. He also is big, at around 280 pounds, and is strong. If the Lions choose a corner or other position in the second round, he could be an immediate starter from the third.

If the defensive line improves this offseason, the entire defense should look better. If the defensive line stays as is, expect big problems for the Detroit Lions next season.

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