As we start to look ahead to training camp, we're going to take a position-by-position look at the Detroit Lions roster. Next up is the defensive end position.
The defensive end position looks quite different for the Lions compared to last year. Gone are Kyle Vanden Bosch, Lawrence Jackson and Cliff Avril, creating openings for Jason Jones, Ziggy Ansah and Devin Taylor. The Lions really revamped this position in the offseason, and they are hoping to get more production out of their defensive ends in 2013 as a result.
The first addition at defensive end this offseason came when Jones signed as a free agent. He has been tabbed as Avril's replacement in the starting lineup. On the other side of the D-line, Vanden Bosch's replacement will likely be Ansah, who was drafted fifth overall by the Lions in April. Taylor, a fourth-round pick in this year's draft, will serve as a backup, as will Willie Young (if Ansah starts), who is looking to bounce back after a disappointing 2012 season.
The other defensive ends on the roster are Ronnell Lewis, Freddie Bishop, Braylon Broughton and Spencer Nealy. Lewis, a fourth-round pick last year, needs to have a strong training camp after playing only one defensive snap in his rookie season. Also, considering he was arrested back in April, Lewis needs to impress his coaches in order to make sure an undrafted free agent like Bishop, Broughton or Nealy doesn't take his spot on the 53-man roster.
Need going forward?
Considering the Lions' overall success at defensive end could come down to a rookie who just started playing football a few years ago, the Lions probably could have used a veteran like Osi Umenyiora or Dwight Freeney to solidify the position. The Lions reportedly expressed interest in several free-agent defensive ends even after adding Jones, but they ultimately settled on addressing this position during the draft. A need for another veteran still exists in my mind, but the Lions seem to be comfortable with the group of defensive ends already on the team.