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This is the seventh in an eight-part series.
The Lions have struggled to generate consistent pass rush in recent years, but with limited help available in the draft, they made two moves early this offseason: Trading for defensive tackle Michael Brockers and re-ing defensive end Romeo Okwara.
Okwara is coming off a career-high sack season, and along with a healthy Trey Flowers gives the Lions two disruptive pieces on the edge. The Lions absolutely will be looking for upgrades in the draft, though their best bet for depth may be having some of their young pass rushers pan out. Austin Bryant and Julian Okwara, mid-round picks in andrespectively, will have a chance to earn playing time this fall after injury riddled starts to their careers, and the Lions ed Charles Harris to add a veteran pass rushing presence in sub packages.
Inside, John Penisini was a sixth-round gem last season who should start at nose tackle this fall. Top 3 DL prospects: Edge Kwity Paye, Michigan ; 2.
Jaelan Phillips, Miami Fla. Azeez Ojulari, Georgia. Christian Barmore, Alabama; 2. Levi Onwuzurike, Washington; 3. Daviyon Nixon, Iowa. Now he stars for Michigan football ].
Johnson seventh round. At least one edge rusher has gone in the top five of the past eight drafts. This is one of the thinnest defensive line groups in recent memory, albeit with a handful of boom-or-bust prospects that have Pro Bowl potential. Phillips would challenge for top-five status in a normal year, but there are ificant questions about his health and passion for the game.
Phillips is the best pure edge rusher available. Barmore and Onwuzurike might be the only top picks at the position, though big men tend to get pushed up on draft day. Both Hayes and Ogundeji project as middle-round picks, and Jones should land somewhere on Day 3 as a space-eating interior presence.
Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett freepress. Follow him on Twitter davebirkett. Facebook Twitter .
Dave Birkett Detroit Free Press. Show Caption.
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Fantasy Football Rankings - Week 1 ()