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Suh continues Lions’ overhaul up the middle

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Posted April 22, 2010 @ 8:20 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

Jim Schwartz knows defense. He knows that unless you are strong up the middle, you probably don’t have a chance.

Rebuilding the heart of the Lions’ defense began one year ago when the team drafted S Louis Delmas in Round Two and LB DeAndre Levy a round later. In Round Four, the Lions found a nice rotational tackle in Sammie Hill.

And now comes the biggest draft piece to date. DT Ndamukong Suh fills a major need inside at a position where it can be hard to find special players.

Suh right now is just a big, strong kid with a lot of desire and the will to get better. He’s not a miracle worker, and you won’t see him putting on a performance like he did in the Big 12 title game when the Lions face Brett Favre twice next season.

We’re talking about a kid who played most of his college career with brute strength as his biggest ally. He didn’t have to develop a ton of pass-rush moves or learn advanced techniques to disengage from myriad double-teams. Suh was just the baddest dude on the field most of the time.

Now comes the hard part. Centers and guards are 300, 310 pounds at the next level. They tandem-block with great precision. They can drive and walk back fellow 300-pounders with power. They can wall off and ride defensive tackles out of plays. That’s what Suh will face next season.

But he’ll have help. DE Kyle Vanden Bosch will show him how to become a pro, on and off the field, in and out of meetings and the film room. Corey Williams will open up a lot of things for Suh and prevent seeing two blockers much. And Schwartz will move Suh around to give him the best chance to succeed. On first and second downs, you might see Suh up over the center; on nickel downs, you might see him kicked out to a three-technique.

And don’t forget, Suh was a lead blocker on offense a little at Nebraska, too. He seems like the kind of kid who will do anything for his new team. And wouldn’t that be something to root for as a Lions fan?

The Detroit defense has a heart and a pulse now.

 

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