The Detroit Lions' signing of safety Erik Coleman was not about adding depth, but rather bringing in somebody that can compete for a spot in the starting lineup. That is Jim Schwartz's explanation for the move, as he said that Coleman can start and maybe be a backup. A lot depends on Amari Spievey's development in the offseason. Schwartz explained that Spievey "did some things very, very well as a rookie and some things he played like a rookie." His development in the offseason will be key for what happens at safety, and I'm sure Coleman being on the team will serve as some motivation for the second-year player from Iowa.
Unlike safety, there isn't a whole lot of competition at outside linebacker right now. Depth is very thin for a variety of reasons, although the Lions are expected to add linebackers via the draft or free agency. Assuming depth is added at some point, there will be a number of players that can start for the Lions at OLB, including Bobby Carpenter and Ashlee Palmer.
"Guys like Bobby Carpenter, Ashlee Palmer, John Wendling, down the stretch those guys made a huge impact for us. I thought Bobby did an outstanding job, he came in, he learned our system, he knew all the spots, he knew all the special teams stuff and he made plays for us on the field,’’ Mayhew said. "He made a couple big plays on the passing game on third downs for us, we were happy with his performance we thought he did a good job.
"I see him certainly as a guy who competes for a starting job at outside linebacker for us, I see Ashlee the same way. Both those guys have played well enough and there’s enough good tape of those guys playing in our system to say those guys can be starters,’’ Mayhew added.
Carpenter played well during the Lions' winning streak, especially in pass coverage. Palmer, as Mayhew stated, improved greatly over the course of the season and went from being mainly a special teams guy to a potential regular starter down the road. Whether or not either of these players ends up in the starting lineup next season will depend greatly on who else is brought in, but at the very least they will be in the mix.