Lions Have To Address Weakside LB Position

If the Detroit Lions are successful in trading down from the 6th pick overall in tomorrow's NFL draft they are likely to be targeting a linebacker to fill the spot vacated by the departed Barrett Green (New York Giants). Lions' insider Mike Fowler reviews Detroit's draft options at the position.

(ALLEN PARK) - If the Detroit Lions are successful in trading down from the 6th pick overall in tomorrow's NFL draft they are likely to be targeting a linebacker to fill the spot vacated by the departed Barrett Green (New York Giants).

Detroit desperately needs to fill the position since they have no one on the roster that can be as productive as Green, who was a notch below star level.

If Detroit gets into the 10-15th overall range, look for them to entertain drafting either of the two Miami standouts, D.J. Williams or Jonathan Vilma, Georgia Tech star Daryl Smith or Florida State's Michael Boulware, brother of Baltimore Ravens standout Peter Boulware.

Each has the kind of speed that the Lions covet in their line backing corps to complement strong side linebacker Boss Bailey and middle linebacker Earl Holmes.

Williams has the ability to run sideline-to-sideline to chase down opposing ball carriers, something that has become a hallmark of Miami players.

While a bit slower than Boulware, most scouts have him rated as the top outside linebacking prospect in the draft and he is expected to be the first of the four to be selected.

At 6 foot and 250-lbs, Williams has the size - and after being timed at 4.55 - enough speed to be a pro bowl type player for years. Last year Williams recorded 82 tackles and 6 sacks for the Hurricanes.

Vilma is likely to be the next one off the board and some experts think he could be the first. The one knock against the Miami senior is that at just 233-lbs, Vilma is too light and needs to bulk up. There is no denying his production.

He recorded 127 tackles with a sack and many feel he could successfully make the transition to the weak side. If Detroit nabs him, he could eventually replace Earl Holmes, who had a disappointing 2003 season and appears to be on the down side of his career.

Some are wary of medical reports indicating that Vilma has "loose bodies" in his knee and that could cause him to slip down the first round order.

If Detroit is unable to complete a trade down, Boulware could fall into their laps in the second round. He has been clocked at 4.47 in the 40-yard dash, making him the fastest of the linebacker prospects in the draft.

Boulware has been judged by some talent evaluators as the least polished of the four prospects, but perhaps with as much talent as any of them. Boulware is especially effective in rushing off the edge from his linebacker position.

Finally, at a notch below the "big four" Detroit would entertain Georgia Tech's Daryl Smith (6-feet-1, 234-lbs.) if none of the four were available.

Detroit could also consider the possibility of drafting a running back like Kevin Jones if they trade down to the middle of the first round and then take their chances that one of the "big four" or Smith would still be available in round two where they would likely pick up an addition draft pick.

TRADE UPDATES: Lions GM Matt Millen denied he has spoken to Jacksonville regarding a swap of first round picks for Donovin Darius or Jacksonville's second round pick. Some sources are now saying Jacksonville is willing to include both for the opportunity to draft Texas wide receiver Roy Williams if he is on the board.

While the New England, Tampa Bay three team trade is likely dead, Detroit plans to entertain all offers when they are on the clock.

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