Michael Young was used mostly as a special teams player for the Cardinals and it didn't surprise me at all to see him get his walking papers when Dennis Green seen his linebacking skills or lack there of. I don't expect him to him to be the Lions answer, the need is for outside linebackers and Young has played mostly as a middle linebacker. He doesn't fit well on the outside because he lacks lateral pursuit skills, doesn't take correct angles to the play and and doesn't shed blocks well. He doesn't bill well to step in at strong side because he's awful at the point of attack, he overpursues and gets ridden out constantly. On the positive side, he's got a nice frame and tackles well. My guess is the Lions picked him up to see if his linebacking skills have progressed any, his only hope is to stick on special teams, however thats not a major need of the team.
Rodney Thomas will probably lineup on the weakside where he played in college. He plays faster than his 40 time on the field and he's got pretty good range and does a decent job in coverage. Thomas can make plays when he's able to avoid blockers and pursue freely but he is terrible at disengaging blockers and can get engulfed. He needs to bulk up alot, and his size is a worry at only 5'11. Overall, Rodney is a guy who fits the weakside mold but he doesn't have good shed skills. Like Young he could make it on special teams, but unless he shows he can beat blockers, he might not last here long.
Stevie Baggs was one of the D1-AA players I just had to see on film this year and I came away very impressed, and was surprised when he wasn't drafted. Next to Issac Hilton he was probably the best defensive player from Division I-AA. I would expect the Lions to stick Baggs on the strongside, where he fits in well. Stevie is a very intelligent football player, he reads a play like a seasoned big school All American. Rarely ever takes false steps on his initial read and gets a jump on the play consistently. Reads action quickly and is light on his feet to take correct angles to the ball and can change direction decently. Uses his hands well to keep blockers off his body and has good enough strength to disengage. Doesn't have great range but it isn't bad, with his ability to read the play quickly and ward off blocks he's able to extend his range by doing the little things rather than pure speed. Very physical and aggressive while playing under control, he is extremely determined at getting to the ball carrier. He's decent in coverage, lacks speed but reads the play so well that he can jump on a ball in zone coverage. Is undersized and under bulked for strong side backer' and would probably fit better in the middle.
Overall Stevie Baggs is an excellent pickup in my opinion, he knows the position well and his work ethic and drive are at an elite level, which will rub the coaches well.
Baggs has the best chance of all three of the new linebackers to make the team and should be the one to watch.
Scouting Report: Baggs, Young & Thomas
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