2. Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are only a few seasons removed from having one of the best defensive lines in the entire league. However, due to losses in free agency, injuries, and poor production, they rank second in their own division today.
The best player on the line is Ezekiel Ansah. However, he’s the one that the injury bug has been attacking as of late. After dominating in 2015 with his 14.5 sacks, his injuries hampered him leading to only two sacks last season. If he truly is healthy this season expect him to have a season more like 2015 again.
Where Ansah was worse that expectations, Kerry Hyder destroyed his. After looking like he wouldn’t even make the team, Hyder had three sacks in the final preseason game. And that jolt of confidence from making the team seemed to have stayed with him through the season. I still expect solid production out of Hyder even with teams actually planning against him.
The defensive tackle position is also in a great spot. They currently hold a savvy veteran in Haloti Ngata and a great young talent in A’Shawn Robinson. Ngata may be slowing down at the age of 33, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t productive. If anything his 330-pound frame can act as a logjam.
Robinson managed to get in the game more and more as the season progressed. And while he only managed two sacks, he did amazing at batting passes with 7. If batting passes becomes his specialty, that will be great for the entire defense, as it can bail out cornerbacks, along with leading to easier interceptions.
The Lions run a lot of players on the line as part of their scheme. So expect to see a lot of new additions Jordan Hill, Cornelius Washington and Akeem Spence subbing in and out. I think Washington has the best chance to make an impact of this bunch, especially if he is at the lower weight that the Lions want him to be at.