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Where the Lions roster stands: Defensive end

A breakdown of the Detroit Lions' defensive ends and what needs they may have at the position.

Gregory Shamus

As a precursor to free agency and the NFL Draft, we are going to take a look at each position on the Detroit Lions roster. We continue the series with a look at the Lions' defensive ends.

Under contract: Ziggy Ansah (2016 + team option for 2017), Jason Jones (2015), Devin Taylor (2016)

Free agents: Willie Young (UFA), Israel Idonije (UFA)

As of right now, the Lions have only three defensive ends under contract for 2014. One of them is Ziggy Ansah, who led all rookies in sacks last season and is poised to be an even better player in his second year in the NFL. Devin Taylor is also expected to improve quite a bit in 2014 after performing quite well in limited action as a rookie last season.

The big question mark with the defensive ends under contract is Jason Jones. He suffered a season-ending knee injury toward the start of the 2013 season, and he's never really been known for his pass-rushing skills. I suppose the fact that the Lions retained their defensive line coaches works in Jones' favor, but his health will be worth keeping an eye on this offseason.

As for the free agents, we already know that Israel Idonije is not going to be re-signed by the Lions. I'm sure they would like to bring back Willie Young, but it's unclear what kind of contract he will be seeking as a free agent.

Need going forward?

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew recently indicated that pass rusher isn't viewed as a top need this offseason. From a talent standpoint, it seems that the Lions are expecting a big jump forward from Ansah and Taylor, and Jones' recovery must be going well.

From a depth standpoint, the Lions will have to add at least one defensive end just to fill out their two-deep. Perhaps they could simply re-sign Young, or perhaps they could add a more seasoned veteran via free agency. It's also possible that they could draft another defensive end to get even younger at the position. One way or another, at least one move will have to be made at this position this offseason.

Previously: Quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, offensive tackle, offensive guard, center

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