Lions head coach Matt Patricia spent five years as a linebackers coach in New England before eventually being promoted to defensive coordinator of the Patriots.
Patricia has always valued the importance of the linebacker position to the overall success of a defense. He's seen good linebacker play, and knows what it takes for players in that position to be great.
After drafting Jarrad Davis in the first round in 2017, the Lions made upgrading the linebacker position a priority in free agency last season. They signed Devon Kennard and Christian Jones, and also traded for outside linebacker Eli Harold.
Patricia and Lions general manager Bob Quinn could be on the lookout for more talent and depth at linebacker this offseason.
That takes us to next week's NFL Scouting Combine, where the linebackers will get an opportunity to impress the contingent from Detroit, and the league's 31 other teams.
Note: Pass-rushing outside linebackers were highlighted in the edge rusher preview.
Ht/Wt: 6-1, 238
Best trait: Versatility. White looks to have the kind of skill set and athleticism to run, cover and blitz at the NFL level. He led the SEC with 133 tackles in 2017, and followed that up by winning the Butkus Award as the top linebacker in the nation last year with 123 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, three sacks, six pass breakups and three forced fumbles.
Concern: He has to continue to learn the techniques required to take on and disengage from blockers.
Skinny: He has uncanny playing speed, which allows him to be a true sideline to sideline defender. His versatility and multiple skill set should allow him to play a number of different roles within a defense.
View photos of linebackers that will participate at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.
Ht/Wt: 5-10, 225
Best trait: Production. He compiled 102 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, and an interception as a sophomore, earning First-Team All-Big Ten honors. He was named the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year this past season as a junior after leading the Wolverines with 80 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and six pass breakups in 12 games.
Concern: Bush is undersized for what NFL teams typically like to see in their inside linebackers.
Skinny: He may be a bit undersized, but he played big for Michigan's defense the last two years. He's a three-down player who can run and cover. He should fit in someone's defense as a playmaking WILL linebacker.
Ht/Wt: 6-2, 238
Best trait: All around game. He checks off all the boxes in terms of ideal size, speed, toughness and an ability to cover. Wilson compiled 71 tackles, five tackles for loss, two interceptions and five pass breakups this past season for the Tide.
Concern: He was only a one-year starter at Alabama. Some draft analysts question his natural football instincts.
Skinny: He's a classic Alabama inside linebacker -- Strong, productive, technically sound and can run. He was coached well, and should be a three-down defender in just about any scheme.
School: N.C. State
Ht/Wt: 6-2, 240
Best trait: Versatility. Pratt is a safety turned linebacker with very good cover skills and a lot of production his senior season. He earned First-Team All-ACC honors by racking up 104 tackles, a team-high 10.5 tackles for loss and tying for the team lead with six sacks in 11 games.
Concern: Pratt has only one year of starting experience. He is still getting a feel for pad level, run fits and some of the other technique stuff that comes with playing the linebacker position.
Skinny: A former safety who looks fluid in coverage. He was widely productive doing everything the Wolfpack asked him to do this past season. He played inside and outside, and is projected to play either the WILL or SAM in the NFL.
School: Notre Dame
Ht/Wt: 6-1, 231
Best trait: Production. Coney led the Irish with 116 tackles in 2017. He also had 13 tackles for loss and three sacks. He started all 13 games this past season, again leading the team with 123 tackles and posting 9.5 tackles for loss, four sacks and an interception.
Concern: Teams will be interested to see some of his testing numbers at the Combine. He doesn't jump off the screen as a plus athlete. Can he be a three-down linebacker at the NFL level?
Skinny: Coney is one of those players who just seems to have a nose for the ball and a feel for the game. He had a productive last two seasons for an elite program. If he runs and tests well at the Combine, teams will like those numbers next to his production.
Ht/Wt: 6-0, 247
Best trait: Experience. Edwards started the last four years for the Badgers after redshirting his freshman season. He's started 52 career games and racked up 367 tackles and 37.5 tackles for loss.
Concern: He has average speed and quickness for the position.
Skinny: Edwards has played a ton of football, so he has a great feel and good instincts for the game. He was regarded as Wisconsin's leader on defense. His testing numbers will be important. Can he match up with tight ends and backs in space as a cover man?