We spent some time Thursday discussing the possibility of Detroit drafting Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh next April, and two weeks ago about the Lions’ across-the-board needs at most positions.
But as Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com writes, the Lions feel confident that they’ve filled at least three defensive holes already -- in the 2009 draft. Safety Louis Delmas, linebacker DeAndre Levy and defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill all project as long-term starters. The Lions appear especially happy with Levy, whom they think has given them more versatility than a higher-rated player they passed on in the draft: Linebacker Rey Maualuga, who eventually went to Cincinnati.
Here’s what Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said about the Levy-Maualuga comparison: “I watched Rey Maualuga in this last game and he's a good player, but when it comes to third down, he’s off the field. Our guy doesn't come off the field. You can say that Cincinnati's winning and I’m going to say ‘We'll see down the road who was right.’ I'm not being disrespectful to Rey, I think he's a heckuva football player. But I think if you draft a guy [high], that guy shouldn't come off the field -- ever. He should be good enough to be able to play all three downs and Levy can do that.”
OK then. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Delmas and Levy, although I’ve seen Levy bounce off a lot of missed tackles. Hill, on the other hand, has been injured for a good bit of the year. But when we evaluate draft impact at the end of the season, I think we’ll have kind words for the Lions.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News wonders why the Lions aren’t taking a look at No. 3 quarterback Drew Stanton.
Green Bay rookie B.J. Raji could start at nose tackle Sunday against Chicago if veteran Ryan Pickett doesn’t recover from a hamstring injury, according to Greg A. Bedard and Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Packers special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum discusses some of his group’s coverage woes with Tom Pelissero of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
The Packers lead the NFL in special teams penalties (26), according to this post from my AFC South colleague Paul Kuharsky.
Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee documents Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ nimble feet.
Minnesota’s run game has been stopped for zero or negative yardage more than any other NFL offense but also has the third-most runs of 10-plus yards. Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune explains, with help from our friends at Football Outsiders.
Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press considers the significance of a Jan. 14 court date in the Williams Wall/StarCaps case.
There seems to be some concern that Chicago receiver Devin Hester won’t play Sunday against Green Bay. ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson has more on that possibility.
Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune takes a closer look at the season of Bears tight end Greg Olsen.