Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/18/14

When Detroit Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew was asked about outstanding performers this offseason, Lions fans may have expected the names Fairley and Best.

After all, Nick and Jahvid were first-round picks.  However, the third player Mayhew listed was much less expected.  Third-year defensive end Willie Young rounded out Mayhew’s honor roll, making Detroit’s front line even more formidable.

Young made a splash as a second-year player last season, showing great speed and burst as a pass-rusher in the situational snaps he saw.  Young tallied 14 tackles and three sacks, including the game-clinching one against the Cowboys with under a minute left.

Fast Willie is down ten pounds from last year, and has shown improved speed and explosiveness so far in camp according to Mayhew.

Then again, never underestimate the political side of football.

While Young may be dazzling so far this offseason, don’t forget that Detroit’s star defensive end Cliff Avril hasn’t been working out with the team.  While Avril has been searching for a

Is Avril worth the 4yr/ $42 mil he is asking for?

new deal, Young has been great in training camp.

Seems convenient doesn’t it?  I don’t doubt Young’s speed and length- he is 6’5” and has very good speed for a DE.  However, he hasn’t shown the ability to fight through blocks exceptionally well and I consider Avril far superior in the running game.

Young may be doing well, but this could also be Mayhew sending a message to Avril.  If Avril knows the Lions can replace him to some extent, he is more likely to sign for less. The math is simple: a great Willie Young means Avril is less valuable to the team.

Cliff wants to stay in Detroit, this much he has stated several times, but he has also said he “would prefer not to play under the franchise tag,” which is exactly what the Lions put on him at the beginning of this offseason.

It remains to be seen whether or not this statement by Mayhew will help the team get a deal done with Avril, but the comment certainly can’t hurt.  In my opinion, Avril is asking for more than he is worth, and he is still relatively unproven with just one elite season under his belt.  I think the Lions are smart to franchise tag him and make him earn a big contract.

While the Young- Avril debate continues, don’t forget about Nick Fairley and Jahvid Best.  It is extremely encouraging to see Mayhew praise these two guys, as they have faced adversity this offseason.  Fairley has been arrested twice and Best is returning from a concussion that some thought would end his career.

Follow me on twitter @ScottPeceny

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao close to deal for fight

TJ Lang: Suh wanted to fight me after stepping on Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Hernandez jurors allowed to watch Super Bowl

Tiger misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’

Roger Goodell grilled on Deflategate during presser

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Rex Ryan: Seahawks need to ‘take the air out of the football’

J.J. Watt buys cabin in the middle of nowhere to train

Six teams have done background work on Peterson

NBA set to earn $700M through streaming deal in China

Wade Phillips is the best coordinator hire this offseason

Bill Belichick gives understated scouting report of Tom Brady

WATCH: Jimmy Butler throws down half-court alley-oop

President Obama zings Patriots over Deflate-gate

Each major conference's Player Of The Year candidates

Super Bowl XLIX preview and predictions: Patriots-Seahawks

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Most unexpected MLB free agent signings of past 10 years

Five most villainous Super Bowls of all time

Super Bowl ad focuses on acceptance of gay athletes

Foster says UT boosters paid him $40-50K while in college

Ranking the repeat Super Bowl champions

Eric Decker to Sherman: Time your conception a little better

Could Katy Perry and Russell Wilson be dating?

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Obama zings Pats over Deflate-gate

Each major conference's POY candidates

Super Bowl XLIX preview and predictions: Patriots vs. Seahawks

The 13 things we want to see in Super Bowl XLIX

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Tiger Woods, misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’

Ranking the repeat SB champions

Roger Goodell grilled on Deflategate

Katy Perry, Russell Wilson dating?

Rex Ryan has advice for Seahawks

Super Bowl: Things you can't control

LeBron and the Cavs are ready to make a run

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.