The Lions' second-round pick in this year's NFL Draft addressed a pressing need at the linebacker position. Other than Ernie Sims, Detroit's linebackers haven't exactly been that great, and on top of that, there isn't a true middle linebacker at all. During the offseason, the Lions attempted to sign a veteran free agent to fill their MLB needs, but after not being able to find one, they were forced to add depth to that position via the draft.
Detroit selected Colorado LB Jordon Dizon in the second-round with the hopes that he will be able to someday start, preferably in the middle. Although he is a fairly big reach, the Lions are more concerned with getting the right players into their system. Because of that, they will draft someone when they feel the time is right, and that's what happened with Dizon.
Since the pick has been made, we have primarily heard that Dizon is undersized and doesn't have the greatest speed. He is, however, a tackling machine, which is why the Lions like him so much.
To get a better idea of what kind of player he is, here is a look at Dizon from a few different websites:
Strengths: An overachieving, fast-flowing space linebacker. Displays outstanding quickness and lateral mobility. Very good balance and change of direction skills. Tough and doesn't shy away from contact and has a mean streak. He reads plays extremely well, rarely takes false steps and seems to always be around the football. Aggressive and flashes the ability to make plays at the line of scrimmage. Works from whistle to snap and makes some plays in pursuit. Squares up to the ball carrier, wraps up upon contact and is a reliable open field tackler that flashes the ability to deliver the big hit for a smaller LB. Gets adequate depth and shows adequate awareness when asked to drop into zone coverage. Takes the shortest path to the quarterback when asked to blitz and flashes the ability to run through blockers in the backfield. Plays with emotion and is a leader in the field.
Weaknesses: Has below average height, bulk, arm length and hand span. Doesn't use hands to protect legs, frequently plays with a narrow base and gets knocked to the ground too much. He is quicker than fast. Does not display good top-end speed, which will limit his range in run support and in man-to-man coverage far more in the NFL. Lacks ideal ball skills and isn't a playmaker in coverage.
POSITIVES: Explosive run-defending one-gap linebacker who plays with a warrior mentality. Instinctive, quickly locates the ball, and works hard to make plays. Collapses from the outside defending the run, possesses a burst of speed, and works his hands to stay off blocks. Redirects to the action and wraps up when tackling. Gets depth on drops and covers a lot of area on the field. Attacks ball-carriers and likes to mix it up.
NEGATIVES: Bites on play-action passes, occasionally gets caught out of position, and pursues the action too aggressively at times. Undersized and slow to shed blocks.
Has a non-stop motor...Tough...Aggressive and intense...Has excellent range and makes plays sideline-to-sideline...Timed speed's adequate...Reliable tackler..Good blitzer...Has a lot of experience...Team leader...Very smart...Extremely productive.
Is vastly undersized and needs to add weight...Has to get stronger...Does not flip his hips well, has poor ball skills and really struggles in man coverage..Has trouble shedding blockers...Is not stout when run at...Average instincts...Upside is limited.
SI Film Room:
Jordon Dizon Interview:
Although Dizon doesn't have the size and speed of other middle linebackers, he has the tackling skills that really make you forget about his shortcomings. I'm not a huge fan of this pick, but after getting to see what Dizon brings to the table, I have a feeling I could easily change my mind. Off the field, he has great character. On the field, he has great skills. Will the skills translate to the NFL? We'll have to wait and see.