It's no secret that the Detroit Lions set out to get bigger at defensive end this offseason. With Kyle Vanden Bosch being released and Cliff Avril and Lawrence Jackson leaving for new teams in free agency, the Lions had the flexibility to really revamp this position, and that's exactly what they did.
The Lions have four new defensive ends that are expected to make the 53-man roster. Jason Jones and Israel Idonije were signed as free agents, whereas Ziggy Ansah and Devin Taylor were added via the draft. What do these players have in common? They're all at least 6-5. The Lions have a lot more size and a lot more length as a result:
Kyle Vanden Bosch - 6-4, 278 pounds
Cliff Avril - 6-3, 260 pounds
Lawrence Jackson - 6-4, 271 pounds
Willie Young - 6-4, 251 pounds
Ronnell Lewis - 6-2, 253 pounds
Average size - 6-3, 263 pounds
Jason Jones - 6-5, 276 pounds
Israel Idonije - 6-6, 275 pounds
Ziggy Ansah - 6-6, 270 pounds
Devin Taylor - 6-8, 267 pounds
Willie Young - 6-5, 251 pounds
Ronnell Lewis - 6-2, 244 pounds
Braylon Broughton - 6-6, 272 pounds
Spencer Nealy - 6-5, 277 pounds
Average size - 6-5, 267 pounds
(Note: Measurements are from Lions.)
It needs to be said that the accuracy of these measurements likely isn't 100 percent, as evidenced by Willie Young "growing" an inch since last season and Ansah and Taylor both "growing" an inch since the combine. Regardless, the fact remains that the Lions now have a lot more length at defensive end. Tim Twentyman said during the Lions' minicamp that "it's clearly noticeable the increased number of batted balls from the defensive line," and Matthew Stafford also noticed the increase.
"That's a nightmare for a quarterback – a tipped ball," quarterback
Matthew Staffordsaid. "You have no control after that. Luckily, all mine fell safely to the ground today. We're better (at it than last year) by default because they are all trees back there."
I think it's safe to say the Lions' defensive ends will bat down a lot more passes than we're used to seeing in 2013. Hopefully that will lead to more turnovers and at the very least create more disruption for opposing quarterbacks.