DE Willie Young (N.C. State) - Round 7, Pick No. 213
The Lions' first of two seventh-round picks was used to select Willie Young, a defensive end from North Carolina State. Young is an athletic defensive end who probably would be playing outside linebacker had a 3-4 team drafted him. With the Lions he will stay at DE and try to work himself into the rotation at a position where there already is solid starting and backup depth.
ESPN (referring to his pass rush skills):
Gets adequate hand placement and extends his arms once locked. While he lacks elite lower-body strength he uses initial burst, leverage and a powerful upper body to drive offensive tackles back. Active hands and flashes effective push-pull/power-speed moves but needs to be more violent with hands at times. Above-average initial quickness but doesn't always get set in his stance before the snap and appears hesitant at times. Doesn't show a variety of pass rush moves though he has the tools to develop an arsenal. Does a nice job of bending inside on occasion but tries to turn the corner too quickly other times, making it easier for tackles to establish position.
Positives: Explosive college defensive end who plays bigger and faster than his measurables. Fires off the snap with a great first step, breaks down well, and plays with leverage. Quickly changes direction, fast moving in every area of the field, and effectively uses his hands to protect himself. Constantly doubled by opponents and plays with terrific balance, body control, and rarely off his feet. Shows ability in pursuit.
Negatives: Lacks natural bulk and controlled at the point by tight ends. Does not time well in the 40. Considered a "me" sort of player.
Willie has excellent height and enough athleticism to consider him a versatile player. He may fit as a defensive end in a 4-3 front or outside backer in a 3-4 scheme. Willie has little experience as a coverage defender but shows enough balance, speed and agility to develop in this area. He needs added bulk and technique work to develop into a consistent contributor at the next level but appears to have the intelligence, effort and raw physical attributes to be successful. Young is a player with a high ceiling that may take a year or two before he shows his worth to where he is likely to be drafted.
Still maturing into his frame, Young shows solid pass rush ability. Young knows how to use his length to his advantage to get leverage at the line. He's an intelligent lineman who knows how to use his hands to keep blockers away. If he gets stronger, he'll only continue to rise up the rankings.
Career - 195 tackles, 19 sacks, 1 FF, 3 interceptions, 1 TD
Interview at 2009 ACC football kickoff:
Outlook for 2010
The starting defensive end positions belong to Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jason Hunter/Cliff Avril, and right now the backup rotation at DE includes one of Hunter/Avril, Copeland Bryan, Jared DeVries, and Turk McBride. That's pretty good depth in comparison to some other defensive positions, meaning Willie Young will really have to work hard to get playing time. He is practice squad material if he can't make the roster, but I'm not going to write off that possibility just yet, because Young does have the potential to be a good edge rusher for the Lions.