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Lions like versatile Ledbetter at DT, for now

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Tweener isn’t the negative word it used to be in NFL circles. Instead of indicating a player is without a position, scouts and coaches try to see them as versatile, able to play in multiple spots, depending on the personnel package.

Detroit Lions’ sixth-round pick, Jeremiah Ledbetter, seemed destined for the tweener label, at least in the team’s 4-3 defense. At 6-foot-3, 280 pounds, he isn’t athletic enough to be a base end or big enough to handle the rigors of playing inside as a tackle.

The early assumption was Ledbetter would play a Jason Jones-like role on the Lions’ line, playing outside on early, run downs and sliding inside on third downs. But that won’t necessarily be the case, according to general manager Bob Quinn.

“Our initial vision for him is defensive tackle,” Quinn said. “That’s where we’re going to start him. He does play both. When you watch him on film he definitely rotates three-technique, five-technique, seven-technique.

“You see him all over the place, which is part of why we liked this guy because he has versatility.”

Ledbetter never played heavier than 285 pounds at Arkansas, so he’ll presumably need to find a way to add some bulk to be effective at the professional level. Quinn wants to hold off on putting a number on it until the team gets a closer look at Ledbetter.

“We’ll kind of wait to decide on that once he gets here,” Quinn said, “once we get him with our strength coaches, once he gets with the position coach and with our nutritionist and kind of see what the body composition is before we are going to commit to, ‘Hey, get to 300 pounds.’ Maybe that’s not good for him.”

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

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