Don’t overlook pass rusher for Lions

Posted April 17, 2011 @ 1:48 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

With all the talk about cornerback, offensive line and linebacker as the Lions' top needs (in whatever order) heading into the draft, don't rule out a front-four addition to the defense with the team's first pick, currently slated at No. 13. There could be a wealth of options that are just too enticing to pass up for head coach Jim Schwartz and GM Martin Mayhew.

DTs Marcell Dareus and Nick Fairley will be gone by then. So will DE Robert Quinn. But they could be tempted by a penetrating big man such as Illinois' Corey Liuget or Missouri's Aldon Smith.

The Lions appear to be fairly set at both tackle and end to the naked eye, but Schwartz always had multiple, versatile pieces in Tennessee and would love to build the same kind of arsenal of DL talent in Detroit.

Liuget would be an excellent third tackle who could allow the coaches to occasionally spell Ndamukong Suh or continue to use Suh in creative alignments, like putting him at end or standing him up, as they did last season.

Smith was a raw edge rusher at Mizzou who also kicked inside on third downs and had a surprising level of sack production from that spot. End also would appear to be the bigger short- and long-term need with Kyle Vanden Bosch coming off a neck injury and Turk McBride perhaps leaving via free agency. Cliff Avril also could be a year away from his contract expiring.