LB DeAndre Levy (Wisconsin) - Round 3, Pick No. 76
After trading down to open the second day of the draft, the Lions eventually selected DeAndre Levy as their first pick of the third-round. This pick instantly caused confusion, as Levy played outside linebacker in college. The Lions have a huge need at middle linebacker, so why did they draft an OLB? Well, Levy is going to play MLB for the Lions, at least at the start of his career. Jim Schwartz and company obviusly like Levy's potential in the middle, which is why they picked him so early on. Many consider this to be a huge reach, and I can't really disagree with them.
Best traits per Scouts Inc.:
Durability is not a concern to our knowledge.
Smart and instinctive player that locates and gets to the ball in a timely manner.
POSITIVES: Strong, athletic linebacker who started to pull the pieces together last season. Physical, aggressive, and attacks ball carriers. Collapses from the outside to defend the run, strong at the point, and defeats blocks to get to the action. Chases the play hard, and displays a good burst of closing speed. Plays with balance, rarely off his feet, and nicely redirects to ball carriers. Improved his reads, instincts, and ability in coverage last season.
NEGATIVES: Inefficient, at times a bit too quick to come up the field on play-action passes, and does not always take proper angles to the action. For the most part, marginal skills in coverage for a smallish linebacker.
Smart defensive leader, Levy makes up for his lack of speed and playmaking with a steady, physical presence on the outside. A sure tackler inside and in the open field, he doesn't show the hips or feet needed to be a consistent option in coverage. And despite his downhill effectiveness, he too often doesn't show the explosiveness needed to properly engage and shed blocks. He needs to work on his handwork, explosiveness and ability to rush as a 9-technique, but he could be a solid special-teams addition for his ability to break down and wrap up, and his willingness to play within his scheme.
Levy takes out Joe Paterno (HT: Highlight Reel):
Highlights of Levy (couldn't embed)
Outlook for 2009
Barring the signing of a veteran middle linebacker like Larry Foote, Levy has a great opportunity to not only get playing time but also to contend for a spot in the starting lineup. That is how bad the Lions' situation at middle linebacker is right now. I don't expect too much out of Levy early on since he is technically changing positions, but sometimes situations like this come about and give a player a chance to see the field anyways. That is why it is vital that the Lions do sign a veteran MLB. Right now the depth chart at that position is scary. The fact that Levy is in the conversation for the starting job basically sums the situation up, and that's not meant to be a slight at him. It's just that no third-rounder converting positions should immediately be presented a chance to start.