2015 Depth Charts: Detroit Lions

| 2 years ago

2015 Depth Charts: Detroit Lions



•  We thought he was in the Very Good group a year ago, and Golden Tate cemented his position there with another stellar season in 2014. Finally giving the Lions a second wide receiver to go with Calvin Johnson, he was tied for the lead amongst all wide receivers with 20 missed tackles forced last year.

•  That wasn’t a great rookie year for Eric Ebron, as he struggled to make much of an impact as a receiver. The Lions will be hoping for much more from the 2014 first round draft in 2015.

•  Though it wasn’t a heavy workload, we’re giving Ezekiel Ansah the benefit of the doubt when we say he’s in the Very Good category. Playing over 600 snaps, he looked good both as a pass rusher and against the run.

•  It wasn’t as impressive a season as his rookie one, but it’s hard to have Larry Warford any lower based on his first two seasons in the league.

Team Needs

Defensive Tackle: Either by re-signing their own players, or replacing them, defensive tackle is a top priority heading into free agency. Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and C.J. Mosley all impressed when they were on the field last year and it will be tough to retain all three.

Defensive End: Ansah is the star of the group, but the Lions need to find someone opposite him. Jason Jones wasn’t a great pass rusher, despite netting seven sacks, so finding someone to bring pressure more often opposite Ansah would be ideal.

Interior Offensive Line: With Reiff, Warford and Waddle, the Lions have the making of a very good offensive line, but holes at left guard and center are a concern right now. With the strength of the others on the line they don’t need elite talent here, but finding some solid starters is key.


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| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

  • Willi

    Would be very interested in last season’s grades for DeAndre Levy. Wondering how he is merely good in your book.

    • Jaguars28

      Yes, I thourougly disagree with his rating.

    • Yonatan Bogale

      Im also very surprised. As a Pack fan I have to admit he really played well when Detroit played against us.

      • tee

        They can say what they want, but Levy had another great season. You can’t be everywhere and he was playing with a lot of first time linebackers.

    • tee

      He was one of the best players on the team yet you forgot to even mention him?

  • Ryan Wilson

    I was debating if DeAndre Levy would be Elite or Very Good — Good was not even an option in my mind.

  • Ryan Wilson

    George Johnson is an RFA that is getting tendered he should be on here, Bill Bentley should also be on here he should be listed as SCB.

    • Gordon McGuinness

      Do you have a link to somewhere with Johnson listed as a RFA? Everywhere I’m looking I see him as a UFA. Bentley is on there as Dwight Bentley and listed as RCB right now with Mathis a UFA

      • Jeremy

        It’s actually being contested unofficially by both camps right now. No grievance has been filed yet. Apparently there is confusion regarding the definition of “accrued season”.

    • Ryan Wilson

      Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said at a meeting with beat reporters Friday morning that the team will tender Johnson a contract as a restricted free agent. The article is on Detroitlions.com

      • Gordon McGuinness

        Excellent, thanks. Seems that he hasnt accrued enough time despite being in the league long enough. Will get him added over the weekend.

        • Ryan Wilson

          Okay new story on George Johnson — It is coming down to a bye week in his one season to whether or not he is an rfa or ufa. He played 5 games and the bye week the one year not 6 games as needed.

    • Ryan Wilson

      This was the first time I have ever seen Bill Bentley called Dwight Bentley but Dwight is his technical name, the Lions use his Bill on all of their information.

  • Jaguars28

    The defense is insane. They need to bring back Suh and Shean, and with Tulloch fully healthy, they will get even better.

    Offense needs to improve the O-Line and RB (think Bell’s rating is pretty generous). Pass protect Stafford well, and this is a top offense once again.

    Hey, maybe they’ll win a SB in 2015, if the refs don’t make another one of the most crooked calls in history.

    • Tim Edell

      They need CB help as has been the case for the last 10 years.

    • Tyler Ferree

      Considering there is no way in hell they keep Suh and win, too much cap clogged up on too few players.

  • Vitor

    DeAndre Levy was a PFF All-Pro Second team and is…good?

  • DrAWNiloc

    TE Eric Ebron should be bright apple red. And polished daily.

  • Gordon McGuinness

    Levy was one that we debated heavily and were split on. In fairness it was a mistake by me to not mention him in a note above but essentially what it boiled down to was how much stock to put in one very good season.

    This season he was fantastic, and that can’t be denied, but it was also a season which was completely different from what we’ve seen from him the rest of his career. It could be that he’s improved, and will continue at this level going forward, in which case he would indeed be Very Good. Or it could be that this season was the high point and he will return to what he was before this year, which was an average, solid starter.

    When giving these players the ratings we’re doing in this series we’re trying to give a fair account of where we feel each player is right now. It’s similar to us not dropping Patrick Peterson down for a bad season when his career body of work suggests that he is Very Good.

    Hope this explains where we’re coming from with Levy’s grade, and it’s worth noting that he was one of the players we debated back and forth on the most.

    • Ryan Wilson

      Only one good season — he has had two stellar seasons back to back he will probably one of the most coveted free agents next year if he does not get resigned — and I recall last year he was number two in interceptions in the nfl as a linebacker only some guy named Richard Sherman had more in 2013.

      • Gordon McGuinness

        No 4-3 outside linebacker gave up more receiving yards than the 679 allowed by Levy in coverage this year. Last season, to go along with the 6 interceptions, he allowed the 5th most receiving yards at the position (though it was still a good year in coverage all round thanks to the interceptions).

        What’s interesting is that since entering the league in 2009, Levy doesn’t have a single season where he has graded positively both against the run and in coverage.

        • Jaguars28

          Thanks for the explanation, Gordon.

        • paczki

          That’s eye opening. Do you think that could have anything to do with the Lions’ asking him to do more in coverage because they lacked a quality nickelback? Just a thought from a layperson.

          • tee

            Yep, it sure does…He had to be everywhere, and no one can do that.

      • tee

        Yes, I agree, he had 6 or 7 interceptions and a lot of tackles the year before. I thought he had a better year that year then last year.

    • Dave

      By that logic shouldn’t you guys not be making any calls on rookies at all? Swanson only played 366 snaps, is that enough vs Theo Riddick playing about 220 in past 2 seasons? How is Ziggy listed as “very good”? He was great this year, but he was in the red in everything but run D last year by your grades. Levy wasn’t in the red in any category in ’13 and was barely in the red this season in coverage for you guys.
      Have a very hard time seeing how Levy is not in the “very good” category, even by your explanation.

      • Gordon McGuinness

        I knew the Levy grade would be considered controversial, or wrong, by many and that’s ok. On the first page of the Depth Chart series I’ve set out what we are trying to do here and it says there that one thing to remember is that there is some opinion which goes into this. Sam, Ben and Myself have gone through each roster and each player individual to give each player a rating, but that doesn’t mean we are 100% right.

        In the case of Ansah v Levy, the general feeling was that Levy’s season had come as much more of a surprise given his career so far while Ansah, who we knew was raw coming out of college and would take some time to find his feet, took the step forward needed in his second season to be labelled as Very Good.

        Levy was drafted in 2009 and his coverage grades before this season were: -13.3, -1.1, -0.2, -0.8, +9.8, -3.6. For a linebacker to be Very Good, personally I want him to be better in coverage than that (doesn’t need to be as good as his 2013 season, but better than the typical season in a career for him). When you consider that, and that his 2014 season was a huge jump in performance, it’s tough to decide if he’s now reached this level, or if this was a peak performance that he’ll struggle to maintain. And in the end, in our opinion just now, Ansah is more likely to maintain that level and Levy.

        Now, we absolutely could be wrong, and if Ansah slips next season while Levy maintains his impressive play, then we’ll need to change it next year but for now this is where Sam, Ben and myself felt both guys were.

        As far as rookies, no I don’t think we should be not making calls on them. That would be a cop out and a bit lazy. Rookies are definitely the class we are most likely to be wrong on the following year (purely based off of how much we’ve seen them play) but to not give them a rating when we have an opinion on where they are is a player wouldn’t make sense to me.

        • Dave

          I know there is a lot of opinion, just feels like the logic used shifts a bit from one player to another. If judging rookies off such a small sample size than should past performance be weighted heavily? If judging based off things like Ansah’s upside, should scheme come into play? Does that play a big part in Levys improvement vs run? Getting out of Schwartz system that put a lot of pressure on its LB’s.

          A lot in play of course, just trying to figure out how you guys came to that one.

          • seenable

            I don’t think the Lions DL scheme changed much from Schwartz to Austin. With Jim Washburn still in place they ran a ton of wide-9 once again and overall looked similar to what i saw previously. I don’t think Levy’s run assignments changed much.

        • seenable

          Thanks for the replies. It’s nice when comments sections can be actual places for discussion.

    • tee

      Ummm, you evidently didn’t do your home work on Levy. He had a killer year in 2013 also with like 5 or 6 interception and in the tier in tackles. He is a machine man.

  • Jason Pevitt

    If Bentley is moved to the outside (which I doubt would ever actually happen) then Lawson should be listed as the starting SCB. Assuming he comes back healthy, he’d definitely be the first one in to replace Bentley. Also Proctor usually plays more take than end

  • Kent Lee Platte

    I’m actually very curious both how Joique Bell rated as “Good” and how Reggie Bush rated as “Average”. Both ratings higher than I’d expect. While Bell had a strong second half of the season, he spent the first half of the year muddling into his linemen and otherwise being completely ineffective. Even in his stronger second half, he was wildly inconsistent from one play to the next and only once put together a full 4 quarter game of respectable play.

    I’m also curious why Riddick wasn’t graded when he had more impact than Fuller, who was (And graded accurately). Surely if Bush was average, Riddick could have managed at least that.

  • DLane

    i agree IMO DeAndre should have a “very Good” color. I also appreciate all the work u guys do on this site and totally understand the “good” color. keep up the awesome work gentlemen , haters gonna hate.

  • tee

    You guys don’t like Detroit. We can tell, but it’s OK nobody else does either.

  • seenable

    Will these be updated at any point to account for FA, or at any consistent basis?

  • WTFReally?

    Your grade on Levy is outright laughable.