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Sunday, December 30, 2012

10 Under the Radar Free Agent Targets for Detroit Lions in 2013

UPDATED: 15 Free Agents the Lions should pursue in 2013

The Lions entered Sunday versus the Chicago Bears with a chance to end 2012 on a high note. They couldn't pull it off ending the season at 4-12, with the 5th overall pick and 30 Detroit Lions set to hit free agency, 14 on each side of the ball. Martin Mayhew now has plenty of decisions to make heading into the off-season.

Will Martin Mayhew keep his job
past Black Monday?
1. Johnny Knox, WR, Chicago Bears- A former 5th round draft pick from Albilene Christian, Knox missed the entire 2012 season after having spinal surgery. Accumulating 133 receptions, 2214 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first three seasons, Knox has the combination of route running and speed (4.34 40 yard-dash) to be successful in the slot next to Calvin Johnson. Coming off a season ending injury, he won't command a big contract and will be the perfect low-risk high reward acquisition.

2. Kyle Arrington, CB, New England Patriots- When the Patriots acquired Aqib Talib from the Buccaneers before the week 9 deadline, Arrington was demoted to the nickel corner. Arrington, 26 years old, has 55 tackles and 1 FF on the season, would be a solid pick-up for a depleted Lions secondary.

3. Kenny Phillips, S, New York Giants- Stevie Brown has subsequently taken over for Phillips at safety for the Giants, the two seem destined to part-ways. Phillips, a year removed from a four pick season and helping the Giants win the Super Bowl, at 26 years old looks like a great fit to put along side Louis Delmas in the Lions defensive backfield.

4. Andy Levitre, OG, Buffalo Bills- He may be under the radar because of the position he plays, but this OG has been a staple on the Bills offensive line the past 4 seasons. He would be a solid upgrade over Stephen Peterman, who has been the weak link on the line for sometime now. He would bring an upgrade in both the pass and the run as the Lions look to overhaul the entire line this off-season.

5. Kyle Moore, DE, Buffalo Bills- A former fourth round pick from USC, Moore has played well in a backup role for the Bills (24 TKL, 3 Sacks). Moore could add depth if Cliff Avril, Lawrence Jackson or Willie Young bolt in Free Agency.

6. Felix Jones, RB, Dallas Cowboys- After a disappointing 2012, in which he racked up only 378 yards on 106 ATT, the Dallas Cowboys could cut ties after the season's over. A reliable receiver out of the backfield, 25 Rec 265 Yds and 2 TD, Jones could be a solid option next to Matthew Stafford on third-downs.

7. Rashean Mathis, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars- Coming off an ACL injury in 2011, Mathis role has been limited a bit this year. With 20 Tkl on the season, he could be a solid veteran presence in a young, inexperienced Lions secondary.

Will Greg Jennings be a Lion in 2013?

8. Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay Packers- While Jennings may not be completely under the radar, he is coming off an injury plagued 2012, and could come at a discounted price. Jennings, a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan and played college ball at Western Michigan, could be a great compliment to Calvin Johnson. He still has the talent, and at the right price, could be the that complimentary piece to Johnson the Lions have searched for and never found.

9. Chris Hope, S, Atlanta Falcons- At age 32, Hope is well past his days as a starting safety, but finding a smaller role and contributing valuable leadership, the Lions would be smart to add him.

10. Daryl Smith, OLB, Jacksonville Jaguars- Hampered by a groin injury that held him to 2 games, Smith has had a solid NFL career. in 2011, Smith posted 107 Tkl for the Jaguars. At 30, Smith could be a good pickup if Justin Durant or DeAndre Levy leave for Free Agency.

Who should the Lions make a play for?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Senior year or not, Le'Veon Bell has left his mark

Le'veon Bell has a tough decision awaiting him.
It was September 3, 2010, as freshman running back Le'Veon Bell was preparing for his first college football game versus Western Michigan University. A two-star recruit out of Groveport Madison HS, Bell entered the season as the third-string Running Back behind Sophomore's Larry Caper and Edwin Baker. Baker and Caper became a formidable duo as freshman, combining for 205 carries and 895 yards and turning up expectations for the 2010 season. Late in the 2nd quarter, Bell broke a 75-yd run capping a magical day that saw him finish with 140 yards on 10 carries and 2 touchdowns, becoming the first Spartan freshman to run for 100 yards in his opening game.

He finished his freshman year ranking second in carries (107), rushing yards (605), and touchdowns (8), while being named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team and was added mid-season to the Doak Walker Award Watch List. He showed a knack for getting the tough, extra yards. He flashed a spin move that marveled no one in the B1G, and left defenders cleaning dirt out of their helmets. His coaches and teammates applauded his awareness to pick up every blitz out of the backfield, which kept him on the field to protect Kirk Cousins.

Entering his Sophmore season, Bell and Baker where in-line to share carries and become best stable of backs at Michigan State since Javon Ringer and Jahuu Caulcrick. Racking up 948 yards on 182 carries, being named Honorable Mention All Big Ten,  while he was named the Most Outstanding Underclassman Back on offense, Bell entered his Junior year as the undisputed lead back -- following Bakers puzzling entrance into the NFL Draft -- and on most experts Heisman Watch List. A team viewed as one dimensional with a first year quarterback, Bell put the Spartans on his back versus Boise State -- in the seasons opener -- posting an incredible 44 carries for 210 yards and two touchdowns.

Le'veon Bell hurdles Boise State defenders.
He lead the Spartans to a bumpy 6-6 record, losing 5 games by four points or less on the season. Recording 350 carries, 1648 yards and 11 touchdowns in his junior season, he takes on a tough TCU (7-5) squad in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl tonight for what could be his final game as a Spartan. Many alumni and fans are expecting the junior to return for a senior season, but Bell has stressed he has yet to make a decision and will do so after the Bowl Game. A running backs life in the NFL has become short, due to the grind and pound they take through a full season. Bell has made a lasting impression, and become the latest of great backs to wear the Green and White and would do himself well by making the most of his chances in the NFL, rather than staying and risking his health as a senior.

No matter what he decides, Bell has become a legend, a name that is sure to find its way inside homes for years to come. The hurdles, the heart, the maturity, Bell is an athlete that a parent can know their children are looking at a superior role model. No matter what he decides to do, rest assured Le'veon Bell will prove them wrong as he's done his entire life. Here's to a great career in the NFL.