Lions add depth, high-potential linebacker in Paul Worrilow

A contributor on Atlanta's defense during his first three NFL seasons, linebacker Paul Worrilow struggled in 2016. Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports

When general manager Bob Quinn worked to improve the middle class of the Detroit Lions' roster a year ago, it became clear it was going to be longer than a one-year process. Agreeing to terms with Paul Worrilow to a one-year deal Wednesday gives the Lions more depth at linebacker as well as a player who had been a quality starter for Atlanta in 2014 and 2015.

Terms: One-year, money undisclosed

Grade: B. Not every signing is going to be a game-breaker or a sexy one. But the Lions needed to add depth, and Worrilow was an early target. At worst, he could give Detroit flexibility and insurance in case DeAndre Levy gets injured again. At best, he could be a steal.

What it means: The initial thought is that Worrilow, 26, will compete for the team’s third linebacker spot next to Levy and Tahir Whitehead, a spot that is wide open right now. Of course, Worrilow did play some middle linebacker with the Falcons, so he could be brought in to either back up or push Whitehead for a starting role. In 2014, he had 142 tackles, two forced fumbles and two sacks. A year later, he had 95 tackles and a pair of interceptions. He struggled last season, his fourth in the NFL, which partly explains why he was available. So the potential is there for Worrilow, and this screams of the kind of low-risk, high-potential signing Quinn made often last year with players such as Tavon Wilson and Rafael Bush. Considering it is a one-year deal, this could be something the Lions get out of if they don’t like what they see.

What’s the risk? The risk with Worrilow is simply injury. When he’s healthy, he’s a productive player in the middle of the defense. Groin-related surgery cost him four games last season; he also suffered from knee swelling at the end of 2015. He played only 156 snaps in the 2016 regular season, so it’ll be important to watch his health and how he's able to move during the spring. But the Lions believe Worrilow has a chance to make an impact as an early free-agency signing.