The Detroit Lions are suddenly quite green at the defensive end position after having one of the league’s deeper rotations 0ver the past few years. And while the departures Cliff Avril, Lawrence Jackson and Kyle Vanden Bosch all produce question marks at the end spot pertaining to both quality and depth, this year’s unit could be in decent shape with a couple rookie emergences and late-offseason additions.
After Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley both being bosses inside, it all starts with how the rookies perform outside. Fifth-overall pick Ziggy Ansah receives more press and rightly so, but fourth-rounder Devin Taylor would also factor in huge here with a good run in training camp.
The path to the starting lineup seems quite clear for these two young defensive ends if they’re up to the task. Willie Young will probably carve out a role for himself but has yet to prove a bona fide starter while Jason Jones has shown over his career that he’s better rotating in at defensive tackle, which will come useful with how much weight Suh and Fairley must throw around in trenches each down.
Whoever emerges to claim the majority of snaps at defensive end should receive great freedom with two potential All-Pros in the middle. Ansah will be fun to watch, but both he and Taylor could click even better if the latter turns out be a mid-round gem. Not to mention they both stand at least 6-5 and are already swatting passes in practice, while honing the art of edge rushing.
“What happens is when you’re not finishing your rush, you have a tendency to sort of stop and be able to get your hands up a little bit more than you would if you were really finishing that rush in a game,” Lions Coach Jim Schwartz said, via MLive.com. ” There are positives that go along with it, but you also have to temper that with the tempo that we’re playing and practicing with right now.”