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News » Linebacker shuffle

Linebacker shuffle

Linebacker shuffle
ALLEN PARK - Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew has said repeatedly this weekend's draft was about the long-term success of the franchise, not opening day.

The Lions didn't add much help to their defense in the early rounds, and that might become more evident when the Lions open the season Sept. 13 at New Orleans.

In a 42-7 loss to the Saints on Dec. 21, the Lions' defense gave up touchdowns on the first six possessions, didn't force a punt and gave up a total of 532 yards, including 181 rushing yards.

While the Lions did add defensive help through free agency and trades, the draft didn't contribute much. The Lions took offensive players with three of their first five picks, including both first-round selections.

"We stayed with the (draft) board," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said.

"You don't want to take players that your scouts don't really have a good feel for or your coaches don't have a good feel for. You'd rather take somebody that you like. We still have some opportunities to fill holes."

With their first pick in Sunday's third round (No. 76 overall after a trade with the Jets), the Lions took Wisconsin outside linebacker DeAndre Levy, whom Schwartz said might fill Detroit's vacancy at middle linebacker. That's where Levy will line up when Detroit starts its rookie minicamp next weekend.

"We drafted him on his speed and his athleticism and his ability to make plays. He's an explosive player," Schwartz said. "We'll probably give him a chance to see what he looks like in the middle. The way (Wisconsin) plays their 4-3, he's behind the ball quite a bit."

Before the draft, Schwartz said he was looking for a "thumper" to play the middle and he said the 236-pound Levy can fill that role.

"Yes, yes. Watch him hit," Schwartz said.

After taking receiver and return specialist Derrick Williams of Penn State with their second pick in the third round, the Lions took a shot on Stillman College (Ala.) defensive lineman Sammie Lee Hill in the fourth round (No. 115).

The 6-foot-7, 329-pound player, the second of three picks resulting from the trade with the Jets, is a raw prospect.

"He's a naturally big man and he runs really, really well. He's a small school guy but has developmental skills," Schwartz said, adding that he wouldn't rule out the possibility Hill could join Detroit's rotation.

"He has rare athletic ability for such a big man. We'll keep an open mind but, realistically, with the competition that he's at, it's probably unrealistic to expect him to.

"But if he comes out at camp and he's one of our better players, then he'll be in the rotation. Like anybody else, I don't want to go in pre-determining that he's not going to play at all this year."

While the Lions didn't get a ton of defensive help, Schwartz said the Lions stuck to their plan of taking the best player available.

"Let's fit (the talent) into our needs," he said. "You still saw us take need -- we needed a returner. My philosophy on special teams is not to be safe and find a guy who's going to fair-catch the ball. We're going to try to get some explosiveness and try to score. A guy like Derrick Williams brought great value there."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 30, 2009

Dewayne White Name: Dewayne White
Position: DE
Age: 28
Experience: 6 years
College: Louisville
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