Lions Cornerback: Make Job Easier, Pick Suh

Despite many changes to the Detroit Lions defense, more might be on the way -- and it could start with the No. 2 overall pick.

Shortly after the 2009 season, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew gave a frank assessment of the NFL's worst pass defense.

"When we rushed four, we couldn't get there," Mayhew said. "When we brought pressure, we couldn't hold up on the corner. So that was probably our weakness defensively."

Mayhew has overhauled his defensive line and secondary since, and he likely will continue doing so in the NFL Draft. He could start by using the No. 2 overall pick on defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, a sack machine at Nebraska.

Cornerback Chris Houston certainly hopes he does. Asked whom he wanted the Lions to draft, Houston said: "A defensive tackle. It would make my job more easy." Asked if he had any names in mind, he laughed but didn't hesitate to say "Suh." Asked if he thought he would get his wish, he said: "Yeah, I do."

A good defensive line can make the secondary look better, putting pressure on the quarterback, forcing bad throws, creating opportunities for interceptions. The Lions already have added end Kyle Vanden Bosch and tackle Corey Williams. Vanden Bosch will start at right end. Williams will play the three techniques.

The secondary needs all the help it can get. The Lions went through so many defensive backs last year, it was difficult to keep count. And they haven't stopped shuffling. They have parted with three corners: Phillip Buchanon, Anthony Henry and Will James. They have added three others: Houston, Jonathan Wade and Dante Wesley.

Still more might be coming. The Lions have investigated Adam (Pacman) Jones. They have visited with Lito Sheppard. At least three defensive backs for pre-draft visits: Connecticut corner Robert McClain, Florida State corner Patrick Robinson and Virginia Tech safety Kam Chancellor.

"Everybody's just going in to compete," Houston said. "The best man will be here. Apparently, the Lions are making changes, and they want the best players out on the field. So that's who's going to be on the field when things come down to an end."

Not only do the Lions need talent, they need depth. Coach Jim Schwartz pointed out that teams dress players at defensive back more than at any other position.

"The other thing is that defensive backs get hurt at a higher rate than just about any other position on the field," Schwartz said. "The reason is, other positions have gotten bigger and bigger while defensive backs have stayed basically the same, especially corners. It's not a matter of if somebody gets hurt and has to miss a game, it's a matter of when. You have to be prepared.

"One person in the secondary who doesn't play well and makes mistakes can make the whole secondary look bad. It's how the whole secondary plays, and if there's one weak link in that chain, the whole group can look bad. And offenses are really good at finding that one guy and exploiting him."


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