Kris Kocurek
Defensive Line


Kris Kocurek enters his fifth season as defensive line coach after joining Detroit as the Lions’ assistant defensive line coach in 2009. He had spent the previous season coaching defensive line at Stephen F. Austin State.

LIONS COACHING HIGHLIGHTS: Detroit’s defensive line continued to be the heart of the Lions’ defense in 2012. The unit contributed 31 of the team’s 34 sacks and helped the Lions defense rank third in total negative plays (123) and second in tackles for loss on rushing plays (78).

  • The 31 sacks by the defensive line in 2012 were the seventh-most in the NFL among defensive line units.
  • The Lions’ defensive line ranked third in total negative plays with 62.5. (31.0 sacks, 31.5 tackles for loss on run plays.)
  • DE Cliff Avril and DT Ndamukong Suh led the team in sacks with 9.5 and 8 respectively, while Kocurek also helped guide second-year DT Nick Fairley to a breakout season. Fairley was an internal force up front for the Lions, finishing with 5.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
  • Of the team’s 41 sacks in 2011, 35 were generated by the Lions defensive line (85.4 percent), tying for fourth in the NFL among defensive line units.
  • Avirl finished the 2011 season with 11 sacks, ranking tied for 11th in NFL.
  • In 2010, Kocurek’s first season as the Lions’ defensive line coach, Detroit had the most-improved pass rush in the NFL. Even though teams threw the ball nine times less against the Lions in 2010 season than they did in 2009, the Lions picked up 18 more sacks, which accounted for an increase of 3.28 sacks per pass play.
  • Kocurek was also instrumental in Suh’s development in 2010, who led all NFL defensive tackles with 10.0 sacks and had 66 tackles (49 solo). Suh was voted as a starter for the NFC Pro Bowl squad and was named to the AP All-Pro team. He was also the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. During his rookie season, he set a new team record for sacks by a rookie since the stat became official in 1982.

In 2009, Kocurek helped rookie DT Sammie Hill, who was drafted out of Stillman College in the fourth round (115th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft, emerge as an opening day starter. He finished the season with 26 tackles (14 solo) and two fumble recoveries in 13 games while making the transition from a small college prospect to NFL starter (12 starts).

In 2007, Kocurek served as the assistant head coach and defensive line coach at West Texas A&M where he helped coach the Buffaloes to the 2007 Lone Star Conference title as well as the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs. The Buffaloes became one of the top defensive units in the LSC and led the conference in scoring defense.

Under Kocurek’s guidance, Brandon Swain became one of the top defensive players at the Division II level and was a 2007 First-Team Daktronics, AFCA and AP Little All-American and conference defensive lineman of the year after recording 24.5 tackles for losses and 14 sacks.

Kocurek served as the defensive line coach at Texas A&M-Commerce in 2006 and helped guide the Lions’ top-ranked defensive unit which finished with No. 1 in total and scoring defense.

For two seasons (2004-05) Kocurek served as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M-Kingsville and coached the Havelina’s defensive line where he was active in the development of Wilbert Martin, who was twice selected as first team All-LSC and was a free agent signee of the Baltimore Ravens.

Kocurek began his coaching career in 2003 as a student assistant at Texas Tech. While in Lubbock, he assisted with the defensive linemen and helped coach the Red Raiders to a 2003 Houston Bowl win over Navy.

Prior to coaching, Kocurek spent two years in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans (2002) and the Seattle Seahawks (2001) after being selected in the seventh round (237th overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft by Seattle.

Kocurek played collegiate football at Texas Tech and was a three-time All-Big 12 selection. As a senior, he was selected as team captain and named defensive player of the year.


Detroit Lions 2009-present

  • Defensive Line 2010-present
  • Assistant Defensive Line 2009

Stephen F. Austin State University 2008

  • Defensive Line 2008

West Texas A&M 2007

  • Asst. Head Coach/Defensive Line 2007

Texas A&M Commerce 2006

  • Defensive Line 2006

Texas A&M Kingsville 2004-05

  • Graduate Asst. 2004

Texas Tech 2003

  • Graduate Asst. 2003

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