Detroit Lions: Getting to know the newest faces at linebacker
By Kellen Voss
The Detroit Lions’ linebacking corps was not exactly full of talent this past year. Bob Quinn and company have already made two big moves to change that.
In case you’ve been living under a rock the past couple days, or got so caught up in your bracket that you forgot about the NFL, the Detroit Lions have already made two big moves this past week.
They signed two linebackers entering the fifth year of their respective careers: Former New York Giant Devon Kennard and former Chicago Bear Christian Jones.
Motor City was able to sign both players without breaking the bank. Kennard signed a 3-year deal on Tuesday worth a little less than 19 million, which isn’t too expensive for a capable starter in the front seven. And Jones was signed to a cheaper, two-year deal worth 7.75 million, as he looks add depth to a unit in much need of it.
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Lions fans should be excited to see what these two guys can bring to the defense, as they each bring solid experience and decent athleticism to a young unit that could use some veteran leadership.
Sizing up at six foot four and 256 pounds, Kennard is easily the biggest linebacker in Patricia’s exciting new defense. A fifth round pick out of USC, Kennard started a career-high 11 games last season and played well in them, posting 24 tackles, four sacks and a fumble recovery.
With his sheer size and new starting experience, it should be interesting to see how Patricia will use him in 3-4 defense. Kennard played mostly off the edge in New York last year, but with his size, it may be smart to place him on the inside next to last year’s first round pick Jarrad Davis.
Kennard was a master of the blitz in his time in the big apple, and he hopes to do more of the same here in Detroit, with a willing attitude to whatever the coaches want him to do to help the team win.
"“I’m just ready to do whatever coach Patricia wants and needs of me,” Kennard said in an interview Lions insider Tim Twentyman. ““I think the greatest play in football is the sack caused fumble, in my opinion. Any opportunities to help my team in that way is something I look forward to doing.”"
Christian Jones will also be a new name at linebacker any Detroit supporter is going to want to remember. He has a lot of versatility, as he played at both inside and outside linebacker in both 4-3 and 3-4 defenses, making him a valuable cog in Patricia’s complicated defensive scheme.
Rotating in on many plays in Chicago, Jones had a very solid 2017 season. He started 11 games, while tallying 57 tackles, 27 assists and 2.0 sacks, and may just be starting to hit his prime as linebacker.
These are two very smart signings by Bob Quinn and company. Kennard and Jones can not only make an impact as soon as they hit the field, but can also be leaders in the locker room and influence the young guys, helping the development of Davis and linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin.
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The Detroit Lions made the playoffs back in 2014 thanks to having a top-5 defense, largely due from the phenomenal play from the linebacker position from DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch. Those two guys instilled a culture of toughness in our 2014 defense. Hopefully Kennard and Jones can do more of the same thing, and help push this young team back to the promise land.