Looking for a team, Dre Bly drops in on Lions workout


Chris McCosky / / The Detroit News

Beverly Hills — There was an old, familiar face at the Lions’ voluntary workout Wednesday.

Former Lion Dre Bly became the first cornerback to join the mini-camp, even though he is currently without a team.

“I am just trying to stay ready, just in case,” said Bly, who still resides in the area. “With the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) going on, you never know what’s going to happen. I’m just going to stay ready.”

Bly, a two-time Pro Bowler who will turn 34 on Sunday, did not play last season after being cut by the Lions on Sept. 4. He had been with the Lions from 2003-06 and was brought back to mentor a young secondary last summer.

Just as Bly appeared to have won the nickel back role, general manager Martin Mayhew had the opportunity to acquire a younger cornerback, Alphonso Smith, from Denver. Thus, Bly was released.

“I was out of town when I got released,” Bly said. “I went to the LSU-North Carolina game in Atlanta and I got a call from a scout, and then I talked to Martin. I never came back in to talk to the coaches. Usually you do that after you are released, but I was a little disappointed because I felt like it was the perfect situation for me.

“Being an older guy, a vet, I understood where I was at this stage of my career and I thought I’d be a good fit. I was excited to be back. So it was disappointing, but I understand that it’s a business. They went young. That’s what happened.”

Bly got a few calls after he was released and he worked out for the Giants, but nothing came of it.

“I miss the game because I still feel I can play,” said Bly, who hopes to get some offers once the lockout is settled. “Being out a full year is going to make it hard, but still, I didn’t take that pounding and I’ve been relatively healthy. I still feel I can play.”

The Lions, who had 31 players at the session Wednesday, will conclude the workouts Thursday.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper: Lions’ Nick Fairley ‘will have immediate impact’


The Detroit News

ESPN’s Mel Kiper, draft expert, has identified his early-impact players from the first round of last week’s NFL draft. And while Lions tackle Nick Fairley wasn’t among the top three players mentioned by Kiper, Fairley did warrant mention among Kiper’s “notables.”

“Nick Fairley will have an immediate impact, but it’ll be hard to say how much of it is him alone, particularly with Ndamukong Suh,” Kiper wrote. “But if they can work off each other early, look out.”

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Kiper’s top three early-impact defensive players from the first round were linebackers Von Miller of Texas AM (Broncos) and Aldon Smith of Missouri (49ers), and end Robert Quinn of North Carolina (Rams).

Kiper later revealed his immediate impact players from rounds 2-3, and his list included Lions receiver Titus Young of Boise State.

“Several teams took a hard look at him late in round 1, and Detroit saw a ton of value while passing on other needs, and I liked their decision,” Kiper wrote.

It’s not too early for Lions fans to think draft

Lions: Analysis

Tim Twentyman / The Detroit News

Allen Park– The Lions lost their ninth game in 11 tries over the Thanksgiving Day weekend. With hopes for a playoff spot dashed for an 11th-consecutive season, it’s not too early to start looking at how this team might improve itself in 2011.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew put together a couple of nice drafts the last two seasons, particularly with top picks Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh, and will need to get more help this spring.

Positions in need of upgrades: the secondary, linebacking corps, and offensive line.

So who might the Lions target with another likely top five pick?

After watching Tom Brady slice up the Lions in a 45-24 Thanksgiving Day loss, the early favorite is Louisiana State cornerback Patrick Peterson. Peterson is a true lockdown corner, something the Lions haven’t had in years.

Peterson (6-1, 222) has drawn comparisons to former Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson. Only a junior, he is a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top cornerback. He’s also a productive returner, averaging 27.5 yards per kick return and 19.7 per punt.

Peterson has elite size for the position and runs in the 4.3 to 4.4 range in the 40-yard dash.

Other possibilities

Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara could also be an option. Amukamara (6-1, 205) doesn’t have an interception in 2010, but that’s mainly because opposing quarterbacks rarely throw his way.

Amukamara was a late bloomer, making three starts his first two seasons at Nebraska, but has developed into one of the nation’s top defenders. He’s also a finalist for the Thorpe Award.

The year’s cornerback class is deep by draft analysts, and includes other top-flight corners in Brandon Harris (Miami), Janoris Jenkins (Florida), Ras-I Dowling (Virginia) and Aaron Williams (Texas).

On draft day, don’t be surprised, if the Lions bypass all the cornerbacks and decide early to get help at linebacker, especially on the outside.

Veteran outside linebacker Julian Peterson and his $8 million salary are likely gone after the season.

Zack Follett, who started the season at outside linebacker, was lost for the season due to a neck injury and has an uncertain future.

The unit needs a young playmaker alongside middle linebacker DeAndre Levy.

The two best linebacker prospects, according to Kiper, are Akeem Ayers (UCLA) and Von Miller (Texas AM).

Both Ayers (6-4, 255) and Miller (6-3, 243) have terrific size and speed, but are viewed more as 3-4 rush linebackers at the next level. The Lions run a 4-3 base defense.

Later round talents

Other options at linebacker, later in the first round or possibly early in the second round, are Travis Lewis (6-2, 232) of Oklahoma and North Carolina’s Bruce Carter (6-3, 225).

Lewis and Carter are a bit small for Lions coach Jim Schwartz’s scheme, though.