Just about anybody will say that the strength of the Detroit Lions last year was on the defensive line. This year, take away Ndamukong Suh (Miami Dolphins), Nick Fairley (St. Louis Rams), George Johnson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), C.J. Mosley (Miami), and Andre Fluellen (Buffalo Bills). Add Haloti Ngata, Darryl Tapp, Tyrunn Walker, Larry Webster, Devin Taylor, and Jermelle Cudjo to the mix. What do you have? That is the question most people are asking at Lions camp this year.
Combined, the five players from the D-line who have left Detroit since last season, tallied up 132 tackles and 20 sacks last season. Combined, the six players who are expected to fill those voids this season, tallied up 68 tackles and 6 sacks last season.
At the end positions, Larry Webster and Devin Taylor are expected to lead the way and have big seasons.
“Between Larry and Devin, the two young ends, you’re going to get a glimpse of the future,” Darryl Tapp told the Detroit Free Press. “We have like a five- or six-headed monster at defensive end right now. We’re going to do our best to create a lot of damage come the season.”
Tyrunn Walker broke into the NFL in 2012, as an undrafted free agent with the New Orleans Saints. Last season, he contributed 19 tackles and 2.5 sacks but was not offered a contract by the Saints because they were trying to cut costs at the postion.
In his first season in Detroit, Darryl Tapp racked up 17 tackles, plus half a sack. Although he didn’t see any time as a starter, the expectations for Tapp are quite high, considering this will be his eighth NFL season.
Haloti Ngata, the former Baltimore Raven, is an absolute monster on the interior. With his 6’4”, 330-pound frame, he has always been known as a force. While posting a modest 32 tackles and two sacks last season, Ngata is expected to be a main contributor in the attempt to fill the void left by Suh.
Jermelle Cudjo, who played with the St. Louis Rams the past three seasons, is a rotational piece. He only tallied seven tackles in 13 games last season, none of which were in a starting capacity. He will be relied upon to do the same this season in Detroit.
Sure, the faces are different on the defensive line this season, but the expectation will remain the same. From what those new faces are saying to this point, they are relishing the opportunity.