Originally written 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

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Sony cut scenes from 'Concussion' to avoid angering NFL

Ryan Clark: Trent Richardson is 'worst RB of all time'

Report: David Feherty won't be back at CBS Sports

Warren Moon: RG3 needs to start taking the blame

Lovullo: I don’t see Hanley Ramirez playing left field again in 2015

Judge Berman’s one-sentence order repeats Deflategate decision timeline

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Ishmael Adams suspended indefinitely following arrest

McNair: Pats caused problem by not cooperating with Deflategate

Browns terminate contract of Phil Taylor

WWE’s “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka charged in 30-year-old murder case

Randall Cobb: ‘I don’t plan on missing a game’

Ronda Rousey confirms she was supposed to fight Gina Carano

Terrance Knighton irked by Redskins-Kardsashians comparison

Connor Cook on not being named Michigan State captain: 'It stinks'

Danny Amendola’s advice to those on roster bubble? ‘Control what you can’

Dallas Cowboys: Rookies to watch

Apple reportedly sought exclusive rights to new Bill Simmons podcast

One of Clemson’s 1981 national championship trophies broke

Milan Lucic says playing with Canucks is ‘dream of mine’

Underdogs: Hopefuls that can shock in the World Cup

WATCH: Victoria Azarenka rips chair umpire at US Open

Bill O’Brien starts charity swear jar for cursing on ‘Hard Knocks’

Dikembe Mutombo teared up when Hawks announced franchise will retire his jersey

Royals dealing with chickenpox outbreak

Manfred digs Shoeless Joe Jackson a deeper grave

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

Underdogs: Hopefuls that can shock in the World Cup

Manfred digs Shoeless Joe a deeper grave

Why Mike Trout ain't right

The Opening Drive: Jamal Anderson warns UM fans before heading to Salt Lake City

Best and worst MLB players in August

RG3 blames intern for liking Instagram post trashing owner

Four most surprising roster cuts from NFL teams

Raiders cut Trent Richardson

Caroline Wozniacki smoking cover of ‘Rhapsody’

Everett Golson named FSU's starting QB

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker