Detroit Lions: 5 Undersized Linebackers to Consider in 2016 NFL Draft

Photograph: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Photograph: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /
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Undersized, but speedy, linebackers are the next big thing in the NFL. The Detroit Lions should get ahead of the game, and consider drafting one.

Photograph: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports
Photograph: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Lions need to find some quality linebackers this offseason. Veteran Stephen Tulloch will not be returning. Youngster Kyle Van Noy has yet to live up to expectations. And concern still looms over how healthy DeAndre Levy will be when the season starts.

This year’s free agency pool is thin at linebacker, and there are already rumblings that Tahir Whitehead may not re-sign with Detroit.

The Lions will most likely look to the draft to fill their need for quality linebackers.

The question is who should they be looking at? With a heavy emphasis on the passing game in recent years, there are fewer and fewer linebackers in the NFL who are three-down players.

At the same time, smaller (but speedy) linebackers have become more valuable to their teams for their versatility in defending both rushing and especially passing attacks.

Players like Telvin Smith, Deone Bucannon, and Shaq Thompson are prime examples of linebackers who are very important contributors to their team’s defense, despite being undersized.

With that in mind, here’s a look at five undersized linebacker prospects the Lions should consider selecting in this year’s draft.

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