Although the Lions have Jason Jones and Ziggy Ansah, two players who did great last year starting on the defensive line, they could be losing George Johnson to free agency and Jason Jones to limited cap space, forcing them to make him a cap casualty. And even if Detroit is able to resign Johnson and keep Jones, they would not be afraid to draft another defensive lineman. The Lions’ philosophy has always been to have a stellar defensive line, rotating players in and out keeping the line fresh, which stops the run, forcing teams to become one dimensional on offense. Here are three players the Lions could have their eye on come April:
Shane Ray, DE, Missouri:
It’s likely that the standout defensive end for Missouri will not fall as far as 23rd pick, but in the case that he does, he would be a steal for the Lions and could really add depth. Ray is physical just like all elite edge rushers and explodes off the line of scrimmage. He has incredible athleticism for his position, previously clocking a 4.44-second 40-yard dash time. Ray also possesses a special ability to get after the ball with quickness and tracks down the quarterback with both brawn and balance.
Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky:
Similar to Ray, Dupree would be a steal at this point in the draft. However, with the combine coming up and much speculation on its way, Dupree could be a possible option for Detroit. His ability to get after the ball carrier with physicality saw him lead all defensive lineman in the SEC Conference with 74 tackles, while also recording 24.5 sacks in his career at Kentucky. Dupree shows great awareness and unparalleled drive. There may be no better defensive end in the draft with the balance of size and mobility, leading to a potent edge rusher as well as a great defensive leader.
Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon:
Unlike many other top tier defensive ends in the league, Armstead has really never put up staggering numbers. However, his raw size and agility give him the potential to become great. The Oregon defensive end spent more time playing basketball in college than football, but it may have turned out for the better in terms of athleticism and endurance, leading him to become a more rounded football player.