The Detroit Lions will be faster defensively in 2017
After upgrading their defense over the offseason, the Detroit Lions believe they are now younger and faster on that side of the ball.
Last season, the Detroit Lions finished 18th in total defense and helped the team make their second playoff appearance in the past three years. But this offseason, the Lions’ front office had a goal to get younger and faster on that side of the ball. Mission accomplished.
Detroit spent six of their nine draft selections in the 2017 NFL Draft on defensive prospects. And in doing so, the Lions’ upgraded their defense with an infusion of young talent. Rookies like linebackers Jarrad Davis and Jalen Reeves-Maybin plus cornerback Teez Tabor could all have major impacts this upcoming season, with Davis a clear-lock to start at middle linebacker.
If the old adage that “speed kills” is true, Detroit’s defense could be lethal in 2017. But at the very least, the Lions’ coaching staff believes their defensive unit will be better than last year’s version.
"“I think where we’re different, obviously … I think we’re a little bit younger,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin told the team’s official website. “I think we’re a little bit faster, overall team speed –linebacker, in the secondary. You have some guys who really can run. I think we’re better that way, overall. I think our athleticism is a little bit better than we were last year, which I like.”"
One of the weaker areas on the Lions’ roster last season was their linebacker corps. With the addition of first rounder Davis, his presence allows the Lions’ to shift veteran Tahir Whitehead from middle to weakside linebacker.
Whitehead recorded a career-high 132 tackles last season, but continues to struggle in coverage. The move should utilize the five-year veteran’s strength allowing the more rangy Davis to take the lead role in the middle.
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The bottom line is this Detroit Lions’ defense should be improved from last year. And that’s due to the fact they got younger and faster this offseason.