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Assessing the Lions' candidate pool

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
The Detroit Lions are wrapping up the second week of their coaching search Friday by interviewing Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, the sixth known candidate to discuss the position with team officials. You would think they are closing in on the end of Round 1, but there are at least four more names hovering in NFL circles as potential targets.

Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey has long been identified as a person of interest, but if he has interviewed, absolutely no one who is talking knows about it. Three other coaches whose teams play this weekend -- Arizona offensive line coach Russ Grimm, Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan and San Diego defensive coordinator Ron Rivera -- could get into the mix before the Lions make a decision.

Like most media members, I have very little insight into what the Lions' newly restructured front office is thinking. It's pretty obvious they're targeting NFL assistants and aren't concerned about hiring a first-time head coach. Defense appears to be a priority as well. Otherwise, there's no telling if the Lions are even leaning in a direction at this point.

But we won't let that stop us from assessing this pool of candidates. To be clear, the ranking below represents my own thoughts and not necessarily the Lions'. I based the list in part on the specific challenges facing the Lions' next coach, who must eradicate a losing culture, possess a high level of patience and work in a committee-style front office.

Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

  1. Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz
    The skinny: Might have the ideal amount of toughness and institutional know-how to deal with this project.

  2. Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier
    The skinny: Wouldn't be ruffled by tough times and would be excellent in committee system.

  3. Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan
    The skinny: Fiery personality and aggressive approach would shake up the team and organization.

  4. New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
    The skinny: He's the hottest candidate on the market and isn't likely to opt for the Lions' job.

  5. Dallas offensive coordinator Jason Garrett
    The skinny: His background with quarterbacks would be key if the Lions take one with the No. 1 overall draft pick. Plus, fans -- and ticket-buyers -- love offense.

  6. Arizona offensive line coach Russ Grimm
    The skinny: Players would respect him and he would improve the line. Having never coordinated, his organizational skills are unknown.

  7. San Diego defensive coordinator Ron Rivera
    The skinny: His track record in Chicago and San Diego is impressive. But why did the Bears fire him after going to the Super Bowl?

  8. Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey
    The skinny: Offense is good, but his tenure as Buffalo's head coach was not.

  9. Washington secondary coach Jerry Gray
    The skinny: Some suggest the Lions are actually considering him as a defensive coordinator.

  10. Miami defensive backs coach Todd Bowles
    The skinny: See Gray.