The Detroit Lions are taking a cautious approach on their rookie class, but at least two are so far fulfilling the high expectations the franchise has of them.
That starts with the NFL’s No. 5 overall pick Ezekiel ’Ziggy’ Ansah, who is expected to fight for a starting spot at right defensive end during training camp. It helped that he had a chance to perform for the Lions’ coaches at the Senior Bowl. But he’s been showing Lions head skipper Jim Schwartz and his staff that he might be ready to step into the lineup right away and be a force on the defensive line.
General Martin Mayhew is among Ansah’s biggest admirers and anticipates the team’s top drafted rookie can have a major role with the team. Mayhew wants to see the Detroit defensive line be a big force with turnovers and Ansah is giving indication he can help the team in that area. The Lions want Ansah to be a disruptive force against the offense and he’s showing signs in preseason camps that he can do it. The Lions were a plus 11 in turnovers in 2011, but a minus 16 last year. They obviously need to improve that ratio and they expect Ansah to play a key role.
Many Lions were surprised Ansah was the No. 1 pick, but they’re happy with what they’ve seen in preseason so far.
The Lions are hoping their No. 2 pick Darius Slay at cornerback can step in right away. They like the way he matches up against receivers in practice. He’s No. 1 at right cornerback on the depth chart right now. At practices, he’s been having pass breakups and has shone a knack for getting his hands on the ball. That would be a pleasant sight for Lions fans to see from their secondary.
The other rookies expected to make noise for the Lions are No. 3 pick Larry Warford, who at 6’3”, 333 pounds, is the No. 1 offensive right guard, Sam Martin, listed No. 1 as punter and Devin Taylor, who is Ansah’s backup. Theo Reddick is No. 4 at running back, but has a slim chance of making it as does Corey Fuller at wide receiver.