Earlier this offseason, shortly after he was officially introduced as the Detroit Lions' defensive coordinator, Teryl Austin indicated that the team didn't have a need for a pass-rushing outside linebacker. The thinking was that since the Lions would be in a 4-3 more often than not, they wouldn't necessarily need a dedicated pass rusher at the linebacker position.
Now that the Lions have had a couple months to evaluate their personnel and put together their schemes, it turns out that they do view pass-rushing outside linebacker as a need. Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said as much when he was recently asked about the Lions' pass rush. From MLive:
"Obviously we have a need," Caldwell said. "Ziggy does a great job, now. That's one thing we'll keep working with him. He's big, he's strong, he's physical, he can get on the edge and he can work you inside and outside. He's one of those guys who can get on the outside and go.
"Now we also need trying to find maybe a little bit different flavor in that regard, trying to find maybe another guy that can do it. He may be in our program right now, in our organization. We have to see how he fits within our scheme, but obviously, anybody can use a flamethrower, and sometimes you find one here or there."
At defensive end, aside from Ziggy Ansah, the Lions have Devin Taylor, Jason Jones and the recently acquired Darryl Tapp, who played outside linebacker in a 3-4 with the Washington Redskins. Tapp is expected to focus on playing defensive end in Detroit, but perhaps the Lions could turn Ashlee Palmer or Tahir Whitehead loose as a pass rusher from the outside linebacker position.
If the Lions decide that nobody already on the roster can fill this particular need, chances are they will have to draft a pass-rushing outside linebacker. The dream would be to get Buffalo's Khalil Mack in the first round, but he isn't expected to fall to the 10th overall pick. In all likelihood, UCLA's Anthony Barr is a more realistic candidate to be the Lions' first-round pick and take care of this need.