(Fifth in a series looking at the Detroit Lions’ positional needs for the NFL draft which begins tonight. Today, outside linebacker.)
When it came to retaining the same linebacking group the Detroit Lions had for the past two seasons, it was just not going to happen.
Middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch is signed for the long haul. Thanks to the salary cap, the Lions couldn’t afford to bring back both DeAndre Levy and Justin Durant. They chose Levy who they drafted in 2009. Durant signed as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys.
That leaves a hole for a starter on the outside.
It also could be filled early in the draft. The Lions could try to trade down from their No. 5 pick, but that might not be possible. It takes two to trade.
If not, expect the Lions to draft a linebacker somewhere in mid- to late rounds with one of their eight picks.
“It was great. Very smart guy, very smart football player, very personable and a great personality. That’s one of the schools I went to and when I was there, you couldn’t find anyone to say anything negative about him,’’ Mayhew said.
Te’o is projected by many to go late in the first round, possibly to the Chicago Bears at No. 20.
Linebacker prospects Jeremiah Green (Nevada) and Vince Williams (Florida State) also made pre-draft visits to Detroit. Both are projected as seventh-round picks or undrafted.
In the second round there’s a chance that Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree could slip through to their pick at 36th overall. A converted safety, he’s only played linebacker for two seasons. And he has a huge red flag because he was suspended for the first four games last season for violation of team rules.
Still in the nine games he played he had 98 tackles and made plays all over the field. He’s not as polished as Te’o but might have more of an upside long-run. Ogletree could be gone and the Lions could take him off the board due to the personal issues.
Arthur Brown (Kansas State), Sio Moore (Connecticut), Jon Bostic (Florida), Khaseem Greene (Rutgers) and Chase Thomas (Stanford) are all projected as mid-draft picks.
An intriguing guy is John Simon from Ohio State who was the Big Ten defensive player of the year. Reports say he lives in the workout and film rooms. Urban Meyer called him the heart and soul of the team. He’s projected as a third- or fourth-round pick.
The Lions have a pick in each round with two picks in the seventh round. The NFL draft starts at 8 p.m. Thursday with the first round. It continues at 6:30 p.m. Friday with rounds two and three, and wraps up starting at noon Saturday with rounds four through seven.