The Detroit Lions head into training camp with an underrated linebacking unit that consists of Pro Bowl-caliber players in Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy.
Although the defensive line gets most of the credit for the Lions defense, the linebackers unit has plenty of notable playmaking ability.
DeAndre Levy had an incredible 2013 season with six interceptions, and he also notched 118 tackles. Levy is a reliable tackler and showed a real knack for getting to the ball, which is useful for the Lions’ shaky pass defense. He will continue to start as an outside linebacker.
At middle linebacker, Stephen Tulloch also had a fantastic season, finishing with 135 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Tulloch offers just about everything you could want from a linebacker and benefits from a strong defensive line in front of him.
Second-round rookie Kyle Van Noy is expected to start at outside linebacker across from Levy, and his presence will upgrade the pass rush. The ex-BYU player finished with 26 sacks in his college career, and he will be a candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Ashlee Palmer was underwhelming as a starter, but Van Noy is expected to relegate him to a bench role. The strongside linebacker will give the linebacking unit quality depth though.
Tahir Whitehead offers special teams experience, so he should have a roster spot secure as well.
The Lions are not expected to keep more than five linebackers, and Darryl Tapp can take snaps at outside linebacker. The unit will continue to benefit from having Ezekial Ansah, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley on the defensive line.