Our latest series on the Detroit Lions roster continues with a comparison of the defensive end position from 2012 to 2013. Did the Lions improve at defensive end? Let's take a look.
2012 DEs: Cliff Avril, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Lawrence Jackson, Willie Young, Ronnell Lewis
2013 DEs: Ziggy Ansah, Jason Jones, Israel Idonije, Devin Taylor, Willie Young, Ronnell Lewis, Braylon Broughton, Spencer Nealy
Of all the positions in this series, defensive end may be the most interesting. I say that because the Lions completely revamped this position in the offseason. Cliff Avril, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Lawrence Jackson are gone, and the Lions have brought in Ziggy Ansah, Jason Jones, Israel Idonije and Devin Taylor, among others. There are a lot of new faces, and it's tough to really predict what the Lions will get out of these players in 2013.
Did they improve?
On the one hand, the Lions lost Vanden Bosch's veteran leadership, and they also lost their sack leader in Avril. On the other hand, the Lions' overall production at defensive end last season wasn't very good. It's true that the Lions have some inexperience at defensive end, and it's also true that Jones and Idonije could end up being more useful inside at defensive tackle. However, I tend to lean in the direction that the Lions did in fact get better at defensive end this offseason.
What about compared to 2011?
2011 DEs: Cliff Avril, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Lawrence Jackson, Willie Young
On paper, the players may be almost exactly the same as 2012, but the 2011 defensive ends were a lot better, especially Vanden Bosch. I would be pleasantly surprised if the top four at defensive end this year is able to record 26.5 total sacks like we saw in 2011.
(Note: Players listed from 2011 and 2012 are based on the Lions' Week 1 roster in those seasons.)