Lions Positional Analysis: Defensive End

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Welcome to the defensive side of the ball. In this 11 part series Adam Ostermeier and I are going to be profiling each position group on the Lions’ roster with two groups a week, with three during the last week as we lead you to the first preseason game of the year against the Steelers on August 12. In this series of articles we will be giving you a general idea of what to expect for each player, project stats for the upcoming season, and predict who’s making the final cut to keep your offseason boredom at a low dim and give you a chance to look at the roster before the first kickoff happens. Today we will look at the defensive end position, so let’s kick this off!

Ziggy Continues to be the Leading Defensive End

Ziggy Ansah is getting close to finishing his contract with Detroit and everyone would love to have him back. Since coming into the league in 2013, Ansah has had 95 tackles, 33 assists on tackles, 30 sacks, nine forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and pass deflections. Ansah had a breakout season last year getting 14.5 sacks and this year could get even better. With more help added on the defensive line, Ansah could improve his game and break the bank once it comes time for him to get paid. He was a Pro Bowler and 2nd team All-NFL last year; this year he should be able to crack into the 1st team All-NFL for the first time.

2016 Projection: 45 tackles, 10 assist tackles, 18 sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

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Brandon Copeland Wants Some Playing Time

Brandon Copeland appeared in all 16 games last year, but didn’t get much time on the field. He only had six tackles, two assisted tackles and a half of a sack. Jason Jones is off the team now and with that, the door is open for someone to start opposite Ansah and Copeland will look for that chance in 2016. Copeland might not start, but expect him to see more of the field this year.

2016 Projection: 15 tackles, 5 assisted tackles, one and a half sacks.

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Deonte Gibson is the Wildcard at Defensive End

Gibson is an undrafted free agent from Northwestern and he put up some numbers in the four years he spent as a Wildcat. Gibson had 82 total tackles, 24.5 for loss, 15 sacks, two pass deflections and forced fumbles along with one fumble recovery. Gibson could have a shot at knocking down someone like Brandon Copeland or an old vet like Wallace Gilberry, but preseason play will easily prove that. Since we haven’t seen Gibson in a game yet, he has got to miss the cut here.

2016 Projection: Cut

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Wallace Gilberry Looks to Prove He Still Can Ball

The 31 year old veteran who has played for Kansas City and Cincinnati looks to make an impression in Detroit to secure some playing time. Gilberry has only started in 22 games out of the 115 in which he appeared. He has 116 tackles, 64 assisted tackles, 31.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and 10 pass deflections in his eight year career. Gilberry could be a solid backup as his production in 2014, the year he started all 16 games, shows only one and a half sacks and a total of 50 tackles.

2016 Projection: 18 tackles, 5 assisted tackles and two sacks.

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Devin Taylor Takes Over

Out goes Jason Jones, in comes Devin Taylor. The other defensive end that was drafted in 2013 has put out some good numbers while playing in more of a backup role. Taylor has 48 tackles, 17 assisted tackles, 10.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and two pass deflections in his career. Taylor has always been a good role player on the defensive line and now with Jones gone, he has his shot to be the starter and a pretty good one at that.

2016 Projection: 30 tackles, 15 assisted tackles, five sacks, one forced fumble.

Final Defensive End Depth Chart

  1. Ziggy Ansah
  2. Devin Taylor
  3. Brandon Copeland
  4. Wallace Gilberry

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @BKnappBlogs, find me on Reddit at /u/sportsguy4life and leave me your thoughts on the Detroit Lions subreddit.

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About the Author

Brandon Knapp
Brandon Knapp is a senior at Central Michigan University, majoring in Journalism, minoring in Sports Management. He was born and raised in the city of Marysville, MI. He also writes for and covers the Michigan Wolverines Football team (his other love). Brandon also enjoys watching the Detroit Red Wings, Pistons and Tigers.