Levy's a middle linebacker; Lions content to pass on defense
Third-round draft pick DeAndre Levy will get first crack at the Lions' vacant middle linebacker position, coach Jim Schwartz said Sunday.
Levy started three years at outside linebacker at Wisconsin in a scheme that frequently placed him over the ball. At 6-foot-2 and 236 pounds, he doesn't have prototype middle linebacker size, but Schwartz said Levy is enough of a thumper to play in the center of his defense.
Watch him hit, Schwartz said.
The Lions honed in on Levy two weeks ago when they were studying film on Ohio State running back Beanie Wells in case Wells dropped into the second round. Arizona drafted Wells with the 31st pick overall, two picks before the Lions took safety Louis Delmas.
Levy visited the Lions April 17, the last day prospects could travel to NFL teams. The Lions presumably had him No. 1 on their Day 2 board among middle linebackers. Western Illinois outside linebacker Jason Williams was the only linebacker drafted in front of Levy Sunday.
He had been high on our radar before," Schwartz said. Beanie Wells is such a downhill running back and Levy knocked him back a couple times and caught our eye again.
Besides Levy, the Lions drafted a tight end, two return men, an offensive lineman, defensive tackle and another outside linebacker after making two trades Sunday. They've had the NFL's worst defense each of the last two seasons, and just two of their 10 picks Delmas and Levy are expected to contribute on defense next year.
Schwartz said fourth-round defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill is a developmental prospect who it's probably unrealistic to expect much from next year. Seventh-round linebacker Zach Follett is more polished, but with less upside and a murkier path to make the team.
The Lions still have several holes left on defense there are no immediate plans to sign another middle linebacker and patchwork to do on both lines, but Schwartz said there was no thought of straying from their board.
You don't want to strictly draft need just to take players that your scouts don't really have a feel for or your coaches don't really have a good feel for, he said. You'd rather take somebody that you like. We still have opportunities to fill some holes.