Later round, early opportunity

Alex Lewis may compete for a starting role immediately with the Detroit Lions

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The Detroit Lions entered the NFL Draft with only five linebackers on their roster. After selecting Oklahoma star Teddy Lehman in the second round Saturday, the Lions further bolstered the position by taking former Wisconsin linebacker Alex Lewis in the fifth round Sunday.


Lewis, who led the Badgers last season with nine sacks and finished third on the team with 89 tackles, was the 140th overall pick.


"As far as accomplishing what I have accomplished right now I'm very happy and I'm blessed to be in the position I'm in right now," Lewis said.


Happy to be selected, yes. But Lewis is far from satisfied.


"This lifelong dream isn't finished yet," he said. "Obviously I want to still complete some goals. I want to get there. I ain't going to lie to you, I want to start wherever I go."


The Lions may be willing to oblige.


"He's a solid, quick, aggressive, fast linebacker," Detroit head coach Steve Mariucci told "He'll compete with James Davis for the weakside linebacker spot. (Linebackers coach) Johnny Holland saw him and liked him a lot. He thought he'd be a good fit in our system."


The Lions' 2003 starting weakside linebacker, Barrett Green, signed a free-agent deal with New York Giants March 9. His backup, Jeff Gooch, inked a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers one day later.


That leaves Davis, a 2003 fifth-round draft pick, and fourth-year veteran Donte' Curry as the team's returning possibilities at the weakside spot.


Lehman, meanwhile, could play all three linebacker positions.


"I didn't really look at it like that," Lewis said of the Lions' presumed need for linebackers. "I just looked it as I'm glad I'm somewhere and I'm just ready to go wherever I go, whether it's special teams or playing as a linebacker."


Lewis, though, was clear that he views special teams as a stepping stone to his goal of becoming an NFL starter.


"If you don't have that in you, you shouldn't play the game," he said. "Nobody plays football just to play on special teams."


A junior-college transfer, Lewis played two seasons at Wisconsin. He finished his Badger career with 175 tackles, 12 sacks and 27.5 tackles for loss.


"It was a great honor," he said of playing at Wisconsin. "I lived four years in two years here. I can't ask for anything more."

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