Detroit Lions: The Impact of the Rookies in 2015


In 2015, the rookies who were drafted will have a major impact for the Detroit Lions

In 2015, the Detroit Lions are bringing back 18 starting veterans to their lineup. So, while it is a primarily veteran squad, there are some holes for the rookies to fill.

May 27, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions offensive guard Laken Tomlinson (72) during OTA at Detroit Lions Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

One of those holes is going to be at left guard, where Laken Tomlinson has stepped up and is expected to start opposite of Larry Warford to help anchor the center position, most likely filled by Travis Swanson. The left guard was a weak point for the Detroit Lions in the 2014 season. From what’s been seen of him in OTA’s and as he reports to training camp on July 28th, he will most likely win that spot. There is a lot of pressure on a left side guard. Hopefully, he can step up to the pressure and perform and exceed expectations.

With the absence of Reggie Bush, that leaves open a running back position most likely to be filled by Ameer Abdullah, 2nd round pick for Detroit. During OTA’s, he had a chance to take a lot of first team reps as Joique Bell was still recovering from surgery. It was then that the Detroit Lions coaching staff was pleasantly surprised in his receiving skills. He has turned out to be a more complete receiver than they had anticipated, which bodes well for Abdullah. More than likely, you will see Abdullah returning kicks and punts, along with being in the 3 back rotation in Joe Lombardi’s offensive scheme. He will be one to pay attention to for the entire season.

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Fullback will be another position a rookie is needed to step up in. With the release of Jed Collins, the 5th round pick Michael Burton will be trying to win the fullback role over undrafted free agent Zach Zenner. While relatively close in stats, Burton seems to hold an edge on Zenner in his running style. He will be looked at to be a blocker, short yardage back, and a receiver. As we saw last season, the fullback provides an important role in the Joe Lombardi scheme and Michael Burton, on paper, appears to be the answer.

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  • On the other side of the ball, we have the 4th round pick of Gabe Wright who will likely be rotating in regularly in the front 4 of the defensive line.

    He will have to show that he has what it takes to plug the holes, recognize the weaknesses, and explode through to capitalize on them. Being alongside veteran Haloti Ngata should fare well for the rookie. When you take a young kid and put them next to a veteran like that, they tend to learn faster and get good tips and advice from them. I don’t have any doubts that Wright will plug in just fine.

    Jan 24, 2015; Mobile, AL, USA; South squad defensive tackle Gabe Wright of Auburn (90) enters the field during player introductions before the Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The North won, 34-13. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

    At the cornerback position, you will find Quandre Diggs and Alex Carter both battling for spots to be a part of what is already a monstrous secondary. Carter will more than likely be battling for the nickel cornerback role with Josh Wilson and others. Diggs will more than likely be in the rotation in some of the sub-packages that Teryl Austin has planned for the defense.

    So, as you can see, there are some pretty key roles for the rookies to fill. From what was seen in OTA’s, it looks like they may just be the fit that this team needs to have another successful season.

    While I wouldn’t expect to see too many of the rookies have a breakout season, the one I would keep my eye on the most is Ameer Abdullah. He has the explosiveness and speed to be something special. He may not be an every down back like some would like, but in the offensive scheme that’s drawn up by Lombardi, he will be just fine rotating in. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him bust out some huge plays in his first season as a Lion.

    Mark DeGain is a columnist for FanSided and For continued Detroit Lions news, rumors and analysis, be sure to follow both him and SLR on twitter at @Mark_DeGain_SLR and @SideLionReport.

    Next: 2015 Detroit Lions Roster Analysis: Running Backs

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