The 2011 NFL Draft ended on Saturday night, after 3 exciting days where numerous teams improving their stock.
After the first day of the draft, all I could think about was how great the Detroit Lions defensive line had become with the acquisition of defensive tackle Nick Fairley. All that night I thought about how exciting it’s going to be to watch Nick Fairley line up next to the defending defensive rookie of the year, Ndamukong Suh. I began to picture how solid the whole defensive line was, with Fairley, Suh, and defensive ends Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril.
Another huge storyline from the first day of the draft was the slide of Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers. Many people had Nick Fairley and Da’Quan Bowers ranked as the top prospect at some point in the draft process. Injury concerns led to Bowers sliding from the potential #1 pick, all the way down to the 51st selection in the draft. Before day 2 started, I had been kicking around the idea that the Lions might select Bowers to go along with Fairley, Suh, and Vanden Bosch. This thought led to one of the biggest anticipations that I’ve ever had on the second day of the draft.
As round 2 progressed I began feeling like there was no way that Bowers would last to the Lions’ pick at 44. But when Detroit came up on the clock, there he was staring them right in the face. “With the 44th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft the Detroit Lions select Titus Young, wide receiver, Boise St.” Hmmm….
After thinking about it, the pick made sense, they add a speed guy to stretch the field and make Matt Stafford’s job easier. Obviously, Bowers wasn’t called until seven picks later, by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which leads us to our current debate. Who has the better defensive line, the Bucs or the Lions?
When Detroit picked up Fairley to go with Vanden Bosch, Suh, and Avril, there was a collective “WTF” from 3 quarterbacks in the NFC North. Jay Cutler, Aaron Rodgers, and ummm, I guess Christian Ponder. All three likely made phone calls to their agents to get their life insurance policies increased. But, the next day when the Bucs added Da’Quan Bowers, assuming he’s healthy when the season starts, the question needs to be asked, do the Lions even have a better defensive like than the Bucs?
The situation in Tampa Bay started last season when their coach Raheem Morris drafted their two future defensive tackles, Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. Then this year, the Bucs added defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers. Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, and now, Cam Newton all have to be wondering why their teams would be drafting anything but offensive lineman.
I’m tempted to tilt the scales towards Detroit because of the reputation Jim Schwartz built in Tennessee, when he had one of the most feared defensive lines in the game. Morris however has now acquired premier defensive tackles and ends in the last two draft classes by using his highest picks on them. They’re young, fresh, and hungry. They’ll learn together and grow together.
This should be an intriguing debate for years to come as NFL fans in both Tampa an Detroit certainly have a lot to look forward to. No longer will the NFL have the Lions and Buccaneers to kick around.