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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Suh's performance may help top DLs

By Marla Published: February 24, 2011

With the Browns expected to switch to a 4-3 defense, several players from a strong group of defensive linemen will be under consideration with their pick at  No. 6.

Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz said the performance of Lions rookie Ndamukong Suh could help class of 2011 defensive line standouts like Da'Quan Bowers and Nick Fairley. The second overall pick from Nebraska, Suh was named the Associated Press defensive rookie of the year in 2010.

“Obvious it’s just showing that when you draft a player that high and draft him at that position you don’t have to say it’s a developmental
project and you’re drafting him for the future,'' said Schwartz, a member of the Browns player personnel department from 1993-95. "There are guys who are game ready and guys who can make an impact. My experience with defensive
linemen other than Jevon Kearse -- Jevon had that same kind of impact his rookie year in 1999 -- my experience has always been, you field a question
and you say 'He’s really playing good. I know the stats don’t show it, but we’re very happy with him.' And usually that’s what happens when you have
rookies. I don’t know how many times you say that because usually they’re not having statistical success.

"I think Ndamukong was one of those guys who can combine both. He was playing very well. He was also having the numbers that maybe a lot of rookies don’t have. So anytime you draft that high and you have the contract that goes along with that and there’s a lot of chips on the table and you need to be sure. You need to be sure about a player’s character, you need to be sure about his playing ability, but also you need production from him right away. That’s important. When you’re going out there, you can’t afford to wait three years for a player to develop when you’re drafting him that high. So 
Ndamukong set a good example for those guys and probably helped them.''

In their rebuilding effort, the Lions selected Suh and quarterback Matthew Stafford (first round, 2009) to go with receiver Calvin Johnson (first round, 2007). Schwartz said adding speed is not as much of a priority as adding size.

''We wanted to get bigger, especially at tight end, on the defensive line and at linebacker,'' Schwartz said. Suh is 6-foot-4 and 307 pounds.

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