As of right now, the Detroit Lions only have Ziggy Ansah, Devin Taylor and Jason Jones under contract at defensive end for next season. Israel Idonije won't be back, and Willie Young is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. What this means is that the Lions are currently set to bring back a group of defensive ends that accounted for only 10.5 sacks in 2013 (Ansah had 8.0, Taylor had 2.5 and Jones had 0.0). By comparison, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley combined for 11.5 sacks by themselves.
Despite the collective lack of production from a sacks standpoint from these players, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew doesn't think pass rusher is a "screaming need" for the team. Via NFLDraftScout.com, here's what he had to say on Friday at the NFL Combine:
"I don’t know it’s going to be a situation where we’re adding players to get more sacks. I thought we had good pressure, we had quite a few pressures and hits on the quarterback. We didn’t always get there to close the deal. I think if we do a better job in the coverage area we’ll get more sacks, blitzing may be a factor to get more sacks. I don’t see it being a situation where we need to desperately add a pass rusher to our defensive line. We have a solid group up front, I like our front seven. If we get an opportunity to get a pass rusher we will but I don’t see that as a screaming need for us."
It's possible that the Lions could re-sign Willie Young, who had 3.0 sacks last season, but I do think it would be nice to have more pass-rushing ability at the defensive end position. Obviously the hope is that Ansah and Taylor will both make a big leap after being rookies in 2013, and better secondary play would certainly help the defensive ends get to the quarterback more often. Even so, I don't necessarily think banking on a couple second-year players and someone coming off a season-ending knee injury is the greatest strategy in the world. Mayhew may not view this is as one of the Lions' top needs, but adding at least one pass rusher this offseason seems to be necessary.