Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 6/20/12

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

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Gronk: Tom Brady doesn't age, seems like he's in his 20s

Cam Newton says Greg Hardy was a 'great teammate'

Ohio State plans to end Mirror Lake jump tradition after death

WATCH: Jason Kidd ejected for swiping ball out of ref's hands

Brad Stevens: Celtics had 'real conversations' after loss to Hawks

Les Miles unsure about his future at LSU


Saban will not rule out Kenyan Drake for Iron Bowl

Andre Drummond responds to Khris Middleton saying he doesn’t like contact

Lacking Jazz: Why Utah’s offense has struggled this season

Magic to bench Victor Oladipo, start Channing Frye

10 unheralded NFL players set to make a major impact in Week 12

Top 10 matchups for Week 12 of the NFL season

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.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top storyline for each Week 12 NFL game

Top 10 matchups for Week 12 of the NFL season

The 10 most disappointed fan bases of the 2015 CFB season

Gronk: Takes mental toughness not to overeat on Thanksgiving

Blue Jays fans create website in effort to keep David Price

The five most overrated teams in the Week 13 coaches' poll

10 storylines for Week 13 of the college football season

Ranking the 10 best games of 2015 college football rivalry week

Examining the Mavericks' hot start

Johnny Bench(ed): Manziel demoted to third string

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker