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D-line coach Todd Wash on how Lions rookies fit in revamped defense

The Detroit Lions made a change in the offseason to a 4-3 base defense from a 3-4, and they feel good about the players they drafted to play key roles in it.

First-round draft pick Aidan Hutchinson and second-round pick Josh Paschal have the skills to play key roles.

"We're going to have some really good depth," defensive line coach Todd Wash said. "We got exactly what we wanted out of this draft.

"We were a read front last year. Now we're attacking. We're getting off the ball and playing at the heels of the offensive line.

"It's going to have us be more physical and aggressive up front."

The Lions were deficient defensively in many areas last season. Their inability to get to the quarterback on a consistent basis stood out. They had only 30 sacks, third fewest in the league.

Hutchinson and Paschal will have different roles. They will join a group of veterans that includes Charles Harris, Romeo and Julian Okwara and Michael Brockers that should generate a more effective pass rush in the 4-3.

Hutchinson showed with 14 sacks in his final season at Michigan that he has the potential to be an effective pass rusher in the NFL.

"We had Hutchinson extremely high in the draft process," Wash said. "We feel he was the most ready to play. We're going to put him at the rush position in our base. Then he can play either defensive end in the sub package.

"We changed a lot of our philosophy up front. It's going to get us more attacking. He's got the ability to play either end spot."

Paschal has a different role -- one that could expand in time – but no less important.

"We're going to play him at 5 (outside the tackle) in base," Wash said.

Paschal played at about 270 pounds at Kentucky. Wash sees him possibly bulking up to 275 or 280.

"We see him possibly going to tackle at some point," Wash said. "Paschal is a guy who can play inside and outside. He could be that disruptive three technique if he's big enough to handle it in there.

"He has great flexibility."

The Lions' defensive line was one of four units cited by Pro Football Focus as most improved after the draft.

The others: The Steelers' receivers, and the secondaries of the Bears and Texans.

"It's difficult to see Aidan Hutchinson failing in Detroit," PFF wrote. "From a production standpoint, Hutchinson grades out just below the elite Myles Garrett, Nick Bosa, Chase Young trio."

Paschal is described as an "explosive 270-pound edge defender. He is not going to win consistently as a pass rusher, but he will push the pocket and can line up inside and outside depending on the front."

As a collective unit – rookies and returning veterans – PFF offered this appraisal: "The Lions now have an intriguing edge rotation with Hutchinson and Paschal joining the Okwara brothers (Romeo and Julian) and Charles Harris."

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