Detroit Lions: Ten Free Agents to target this offseason

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Detroit Lions
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NT D.J. Reader

The Houston Texans defense was similar to the Detroit Lions; at times, they couldn’t stop a plastic grocery bag blowing in the breeze.  With J.J. Watt struggling to stay on the field and having traded away Jadaveon Clowney, (who is set to become a high-priced free agent as well next week), have struggled to create a pass-rush.

D.J. Reader is a nose tackle, he isn’t much of an interior pass-rusher, but he’s the ideal Matt Patricia proto-type interior tackle.  Think of a Vince Wilfork type build when considering Reader.  A guy that will plug-up the middle of an offensive line as he commands a double-team inside if an offense has any hope of moving him off his spot.

Wilfork was 6’2 and played around 325 pounds.  To compare, Reader is 6’3, and plays around 350 pounds.  That size inside will allow the Detroit Lions linebackers to flow freely to the football.  It’s nice to have an interior lineman like Reader draw the attention of a guard and center, preventing one from getting to the next blocking level.

By doing so, it allows the linebackers to attack the hole, square their shoulders, and make a perfect form tackle.  Linebackers play the game in a similar fashion as a running back.  During running situations, LB’s will read the block and excel to an opening, hoping to meet a runner.

A player of Reader’s stature also helps penetrate into the backfield, either making a play himself or causing the back or quarterback to revert course and hopefully running into the defensive support.

Reader is an overachiever; he was selected in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL draft.  The 25-year-old is one of the best defensive tackle’s set to hit the open market.  Houston would love to re-sign him, but they have limited funds at their disposal with more critical players to sign, including left-tackle Laremy Tunsil.

Last season with the Texans Reader made 37 tackles, 3 sacks, and 35 total pressures.

According to PFF, Reader earned himself a near-elite 86.7 overall grade.  It won’t be cheap, but he’s the perfect fit for the Detroit Lions, and someone Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia take a hard look at next week when the free agency period begins.