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Lions reset 2015: Extra-large changes on both lines

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In veteran transactions as well as the draft, the Detroit Lions made extra-large moves to prepare for 2015.

They get their first peek at how some of it fits together during the rookie minicamp this weekend (May 8-10).

First they lost enormous, albeit infamous, defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh in free agency when the Miami Dolphins blew their budget by giving him a $114.375 million, six-year deal with $59 million guaranteed.

The Lions quickly filled most of that large vacancy by trading to get talented veteran defensive tackle Halotia Ngata from the Baltimore Ravens. They later added Auburn D-tackle Gabe Wright in the fourth round of the draft.

On the other side of the line, the Lions opened their draft by selecting a Duke guard — a rare football guard from that basketball school — in Laken Tomlinson. In the seventh round they added 6-7, 324-pound Corey Robinson, an offensive tackle from South Carolina in the seventh round.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew typically skirts needs to take talent in the draft, but this year, the team addressed most of the obvious holes – offensive line, defensive tackle, running back and cornerback.

“This was a case, I think, a lot of times where the need met up with the right grade on a player,” Mayhew said. “For example, in the first round there were a lot of good offensive linemen and defensive linemen around that time in the draft. We ended up getting a pretty good guard, we think. Throughout the draft the need frequently matched up with the grades on the players. We checked off a lot of things we thought that we needed.”

Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said Saturday during the draft he expects Riley Reiff to remain at left tackle and Tomlinson should begin his career at left guard while Robinson will compete for a spot on the depth chart for now.

. Most of the seven players the Lions drafted had significant contact with an assistant coach during the draft, and Mayhew said the coaches have a key impact in the decision-making process.

“Because they’re going to be locked in a room with those guys for eight, nine, 10 hours a day,” Mayhew said. “They have to work with those guys every single day, so I want them to have guys that they want to have. I tell those guys before the draft, ‘Hey, I’m not going to draft a guy you don’t want to coach.’ So, if we get on the board, we have names on the board and I ask, ‘Do you want to coach this guy?’ And coaches have said no, and we draft somebody else.”

Coaches gets their first look at those choices, whether they were primary picks or “somebody else,” in this weekend’s rookie minicamp (May 8-10). Here is an early look at the 2015 Lions:

2014 RECORD: 11-5, 2nd in NFC North

COACH: Jim Caldwell

2nd season with Lions

11-5 overall; postseason 0-1

5th season as NFL head coach

39-29 overall; 2-3 postseason

2015 CAMP SCHEDULE

Rookie minicamp: May 8-10

OTA dates: May 26-28, June 2-4, June 8-11

Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART

(Rookies in capitals)

Offense:

WR: G. Tate, J. Ross, R. Broyles, S. Dawson

LT: R. Reiff, C. Lucas, C. ROBINSON

LG: M. Ramirez, L. TOMLINSON

C: T. Swanson, D. Keyton, T. Boggs, B. Cave

RG: L. Warford

RT: L. Waddle, M. Williams

TE: B. Pettigrew, E. Ebron, J. Fauria, E. Igwenagu, J. Thompson

WR: C. Johnson, C. Fuller, T. Jones, A. Peacock

QB: M. Stafford, K. Moore, D. Orlovsky

RB: J. Bell, T. Riddick, A. ABDULLAH, G. Winn

FB: M. BURTON

Defense:

LDE: J. Jones, D. Taylor, L. Webster, P. Hunt

LDT: H. Ngata, J. Cudjo, R. Philon, G. WRIGHT

RDT: T. Walker, C. Reid, K. Hyder

RDE: Z. Ansah, X. Proctor, D. Tapp

OLB: J. Bynes, K. Van noy, J. Harris

MLB: S. Tulloch, T. Whitehead, T. Lewis

OLB: D. Levy, J. Stanford, B. Copeland

LCB: D. Slay, B. Bentley, C. Butler, N. Ness

SS: J. Ihedigbo, I. Abdul-Quddus

FS: G. Quin, D. Carey

RCB: R. Mathis, A. CARTER, M. Seisay, J. Wilson

N-CB: N. Lawson, Q. DIGGS

Special Teams:

P: S. Martin

PK: M. Prater

LS: D. Muhlbach

H: S. Martin

KO: S. Martin

PR: J. Ross, G. Tate, R. Broyles

KR: J. Ross, T. Riddick

GRADING THE DRAFT — B-

Per Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

There was anticipation that Detroit would land a defensive lineman in the first round, but they took guard Laken Tomlinson. His powerful game and dependability fit in well with what Jim Caldwell is trying to build in Detroit and gives the Lions as solid a 1-2 punch at guard (with Larry Warford) as there is in the league. The defensive tackle came a little later with former Auburn standout Gabe Wright, who Lions fans hope will provide more consistency than fellow former Tiger (and Lion) Nick Fairley. The star of this class will be running back Ameer Abdullah, a verifiable star who will provide the sizzle to complement the more powerful Joique Bell and Theo Riddick. Corners Alex Carter and Quandre Diggs have talent, but never made as many plays at the collegiate level as their hype would indicate.

SCOUTING ALL DRAFT PICKS

–Round 1/28 — Laken Tomlinson, G, 6-3, 323, Duke

The Lions had a few players they liked left on the board at No. 23 and found a perfect trade-down partner in the Broncos. In addition to Tomlinson, the Lions got veteran interior offensive lineman Manny Ramirez and a fifth-round pick this year and in 2016. Plus, the mauling Tomlinson gives the Lions a long-term solution at left guard who can help improve their 28th-ranked rushing attack.

–Round 2/54 — Ameer Abdullah, RB, 5-9, 205, Nebraska

After struggling to run the ball last year and cutting Reggie Bush, the Lions needed a boost in their run game. The shifty but strong Abdullah can provide that as he can run inside and outside, be a receiving option and immediately improve the returner spot.

–Round 3/80 — Alex Carter, CB, 6-0, 196, Stanford

The Lions gave the fifth-round pick they acquired from Denver, No. 143, to Minnesota to move up from No. 88 to take the high-upside Carter. He wasn’t very productive his junior year in 2014, but teams rarely threw at him. He’s strong and fast enough to play inside or outside, giving him a chance to contribute as a rookie, and could be a future option at safety.

–Round 4/113 — Gabe Wright, DT, 6 -3, 300, Auburn

With no pick in the fourth round after trading it to Baltimore in the Haloti Ngata deal, the Lions gave up a 2016 third-round pick to Philadelphia to move into the fourth round and take Wright, whom they considered in the third round. He’s a quick, penetrating pass rusher who fits the height and weight measurables the Lions look for on the interior and should be a rotational player immediately.

–Round 5/168 — Michael Burton, FB, 5-11, 242, Rutgers

With the first two picks, the Lions proved they wanted to improve their power rushing attack. With Burton, they add a player who can be a lead blocker, effective receiver and a core special teams player. He’s not flashy, but was a good value at a position the Lions needed to upgrade. The Lions acquired this pick in a trade with Tampa Bay for defensive end George Johnson.

–Round 6/200 — Quandre Diggs, CB, 5-9, 196, Texas

He’s small, but Diggs packs a punch. He doesn’t have great long speed, but the Lions like his ability to anticipate in coverage. Diggs will compete for time in the slot, but the Lions think he can play outside, too.

–Round 7/240 — Corey Robinson, T, 6-7, 324, South Carolina

Robinson fits the mold of undrafted tackles the Lions targeted the last two years, the big-bodied LaAdrian Waddle and Cornelius Lucas, but they didn’t want to risk missing him. With Waddle potentially recovering from his knee injury into the season, Robinson provides an SEC-tested tackle option who can be Lucas’ backup at right tackle.

NOTABLE VETERANS ACQUIRED:

–DT Haloti Ngata (trade Ravens).

–C/G Manny Ramirez (trade Broncos).

–DT Tyrunn Walker: Not tendered as RFA by Saints; $1.75M/1 yr.

–CB Josh Wilson: UFA Falcons; $950,000/1 yr, $80,000 SB/$200,000 guaranteed.

NOTABLE PLAYERS LOST:

–G Rodney Austin (released).

–RB Reggie Bush (released).

–FB Jed Collins: UFA Cowboys; $810,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.

–TE Kellen Davis: UFA Jets; $950,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB.

–DT Nick Fairley: UFA Rams; $5M/1 yr; $1.5M guaranteed.

–T Corey Hilliard: UFA Jets; terms unknown.

–DE George Johnson (traded Buccaneers; re-signed as RFA and then traded).

–T/G Garrett Reynolds: UFA Rams; $2.2M/2 yrs, $249,999 RB guaranteed.

–DT Ndamukong Suh: UFA Dolphins; $114.375M/6 yrs, $25.5M SB/$59.955M guaranteed.

PRESEASON PEEK — Mark that calendar

All times Eastern

Aug. 13: N.Y. JETS (Thu.), 7:30

Aug. 20: at Washington (Thu.), 7:30

Aug. 28: at Jacksonville (Fri.), 8:00

Sept. 3: BUFFALO (Thu.), 7:30


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