Lions start 3rd day of draft with 4 on defense

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) - The Detroit Lions insist they didn't plan on adding defensive depth on the final day of the NFL draft.

It just worked out that way.

Detroit started off Saturday by taking Oklahoma's Ronnell Lewis, who can play defensive end or outside linebacker, in the fourth round, drafted Temple outside linebacker Tahir Whitehead and Albion cornerback Chris Greenwood in the fifth round.

"We feel good about all those guys helping us on defense and special teams," general manager Martin Mayhew said.

Later, Detroit drafted New Mexico State cornerback Jonte Green in the sixth round. He had two interceptions last season at New Mexico State.

"I run a 4.3 40," Green said. "I say that's my strength."

Detroit's weakness is at cornerback, the only position it doesn't have a starter returning from its first 10-win team since 1995.

"Yeah, I'm aware of that," Green said.

The Lions had chances to move back and up during the first two days of the draft, but stuck with their slots to select Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff in the first round, Oklahoma wide receiver Ryan Broyles in the second and Louisiana-Lafayette cornerback Dwight "Bill" Bentley in the third.

On the third and final day of the draft, Detroit was on the move.

The team slid back in the fourth round and moved up twice to make their fifth-round picks.

"It's all about opportunity and the players on the board," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said.

Lewis said he no idea how the team plans to put him on the field because he can be a pass-rushing defensive end or a stand-up outside linebacker.

"I feel comfortable both ways," he said. "Wherever coach puts me is where I'll play and be happy as long as I get the opportunity."

Detroit selected Lewis 125th overall with a pick acquired by trading the No. 117 pick to San Francisco for the 49ers' fourth-round pick and their sixth-round selection, 196th overall. The Lions didn't start the draft with a six-round pick because the NFL took it away because of a tampering charge involving Kansas City.

Lewis may be used Lewis to add depth at defensive end behind Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch. He also could perhaps be a reserve outside linebacker behind Justin Durant and DeAndre Levy, both of whom are entering the last year of their contracts.

The 6-foot-1, 253-pound Lewis started nine games last season as a defensive end and played in 10 for the Sooners, making 13 tackles for losses, including 5.5 sacks. The native of Dewar, Okla., skipped his senior season after making 119 tackles, including 10 sacks, in 34 career games.

Lewis missed some games because of a sprained ligament in his left knee last season and wasn't academically eligible to play in Oklahoma's bowl game. Schwartz said Lewis acknowledged he's not a good student, but the team isn't worried about that because there isn't an Academic All-NFC North team.

"We don't have any classes here," Schwartz said.

The Lions moved up to get Whitehead early in the fifth round with the 138th pick overall. They traded a fourth-round pick next year to Minnesota to acquire the pick. Whitehead had 59 tackles, including five sacks, last season at Temple. The 6-foot-1, 233-pound linebacker is from Jersey City, N.J.

"It's a little bit of a projecting, making him an off-the-ball linebacker," Schwartz said.

Whitehead, though, knows his path to making the team probably won't be as a first-string linebacker.

"I've always been excited about special teams, it's a third of the game and a very important part of the game," he said.

Likewise, Greenwood will have to play special teams to make a team that is coming off its first playoff appearance since the 1999 season.

Greenwood, who is from Detroit, is the first Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association player selected in the NFL draft since 1967, when New Orleans selected Albion linebacker Barry Siler in the eighth round.

The three Division III players taken in the NFL draft between 2008-2011 - Pierre Garcon, Andy Studebaker and Cecil Shorts - are all in the league.

Detroit really wanted to draft Greenwood 148th overall, sending its 158th pick later in the round and a seventh-round selection to Oakland to take him. He was the MIAA's defensive MVP and led Albion to a conference title last season.

The Lions say they were impressed with Greenwood's physical skills during a private workout and when he was at the University of Michigan pro day.

"His measurables are off the charts," Mayhew said.


Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/larrylage

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.
Gamepass_vert_web_r

See all the Action

Replay every game all season.