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 linebacker position.
Back from last season: Stephen Tulloch, DeAndre Levy, Ashlee Palmer, Tahir Whitehead, Travis Lewis, Carmen Messina
New to the team: Brandon Hepburn, Cory Greenwood, Jon Morgan, Alex Elkins
The Lions took a relatively relaxed approach with the linebacker position this offseason. They let Justin Durant depart in free agency after re-signing DeAndre Levy, and that's essentially it in terms of notable moves. Levy returns as a starter at outside linebacker, and Stephen Tulloch is still the starter at middle linebacker.
The main storyline at this position revolves around who will end up winning the vacant starting job at outside linebacker. The Lions decided not to re-sign Durant because they feel comfortable with Ashlee Palmer, Tahir Whitehead and Travis Lewis competing for a spot in the starting lineup. Palmer seems to have the edge given that he has more experience than Whitehead and Lewis, who were rookies last season, but that starting spot will be determined in training camp.
Moving beyond the top five at linebacker, the Lions have several guys set to compete for one or two spots on the 53-man roster. Special teams will play a key role in determining the final spot(s), meaning someone like Cory Greenwood could be in position to make the team. Brandon Hepburn, a seventh-round draft pick from this year, and Carmen Messina, who spent last season on the practice squad, also will be in the mix.
Undrafted free agents Jon Morgan and Alex Elkins will likely be competing for a spot on the practice squad rather than the 53-man roster unless one of them has a really strong training camp.
Need going forward?
The Lions probably could have benefited from upgrading the talent at this position a bit in the offseason, but they seem content with Levy, Tulloch and one of Palmer, Whitehead and Lewis starting. As a result, it doesn't look like there is any real need here.