In part six of the offseason position rankings, we check in on the defensive linemen for the Detroit Lions and the rest of their NFC North rivals.
Today in the NFC North Position Rankings, we’ll be taking our first look at the defensive side of the ball for the Detroit Lions and the rest of the NFC North.
But first, be sure to check out my previous divisional rankings below:
Detroit Lions, NFC North Position Rankings: Quarterbacks
Detroit Lions, NFC North Position Rankings: Running Backs
Detroit Lions, NFC North Position Rankings: Wide Receivers
Detroit Lions, NFC North Position Rankings: Tight Ends
Detroit Lions, NFC North Position Rankings: Offensive Line
Now defensive line is an odd position to rank. This happens because of the different defenses run amongst the teams. The Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings run a 4-3 defense, while the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers are in a 3-4 set.
These different defensive looks mean that some teams value linemen more, while others are more linebacker centered. So yes, I will be taking that focus into account in my rankings.
So, because of this the team ranking fourth in this week’s rankings runs a 3-4.
4. Chicago Bears
The Bears defensive line is filled with players that I was pretty unfamiliar with. Considering they play against the Lions twice a year, I couldn’t believe these guys weren’t that impactful.
The only name I was even remotely familiar with was Akiem Hicks. And after seeing the defensive snap count last season, it made more sense. Hicks was in on almost 87% of the snaps, while the next closest defensive lineman barely broke 40%.
The player that broke that 40% threshold was Mitch Unrein. Unrein, who’s already 30, should be the starter at the beginning of the season. However, I think the Bears will try to look at younger players for production by the end of the year.
The option I see with the best potential to fill that slot is Jonathan Bullard, who is only 23. If the Bears can get consistent production from a player at that age they should be set for the rest of the decade at least.
Luckily, they seem to have a nose tackle picked for the future. That is as long as he can remain healthy. Eddie Goldman was a solid option to clog the middle of the field, but an ankle injury cut his season short. Sitting out for so much of last season should allow him to enter this season at full strength.
There’s a lot of potential on the Bears line. Unfortunately, the production just isn’t there yet.