Detroit Lions: The front seven contributor that everyone has forgotten

Detroit Lions. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Reworking the front seven will be a focus this offseason for the Detroit Lions, and this forgotten stud linemen should help with that.

April 26th, the Super Bowl for us Detroit Lions fans, is less than 20 days away. As that fateful day draws nearer, the question needs to be asked: Which of the Lions many needs should be addressed on Day 1?

If you have read any mock drafts online in the past couple weeks, you’d see its very evident that many experts feel like Bob Quinn needs to draft a space-eating defensive linemen with their first pick in the draft.

While the 2018 draft class is shallow on defensive line prospects, they may not need to draft a pass rusher in the first round because of one forgotten stud for Motor City.

And that stud is Kerry Hyder Jr. A former New York Jet, Hyder Jr. was originally added in 2015 simply for depth in the practice squad, but he has proven to be much more than just a rotational linemen.

More from SideLion Report

In his first season on the official 53-man roster, the former Texas Tech Red Raider broke out onto the scene with a hot start, annihilating offensive linemen and tallying up 5 sacks in his first four games.

And this hot start wasn’t merely a flash in the pan. Hyder Jr. finished the 2016 season with 8 sacks, 23 tackles, 13 assists and a fumble recovery, which are pretty good numbers for a guy on the scout team one year prior.

Despite this unexpectedly quality 2016 performance, there is a reason why many Lions fans forgot about Hyder Jr. this past season. Hyder Jr. missed almost the entire 2017 season, as he tore his Achilles in the preseason, ending his season abruptly.

The 2017 front seven clearly missed having Hyder Jr. wreaking havoc last season. The group was considered mediocre last season, since they ranked 20th in the league in assisted tackles, sacks and tackles for loss. No offense was truly afraid to face Detroit last season, and the lack of Hyder Jr.’s presence was a part of that.

But after a successful rehab stint that has lasted since September and was more than halfway over by January, it appears that Hyder Jr. will indeed make a full recovery, and is hungry to get back on the field and into opponent’s backfields.

"“I’m looking forward to coming back,” Hyder told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “It’s just a small bump in the road on a long journey.  I’ve moved on and I’m looking forward to the 2018 season and I know I’m going to be back better than ever.”"

Fans will be happy to hear that on March 10th, Detroit resigned Hyder Jr. to his exclusive rights free agent tender, meaning he will be returning to Detroit again this season to prove that 2016 was not a fluke.

Because of how cheap Hyder’s contract currently is, it was almost a no-brainer for the Lions to resign him. Detroit will owe him a little more than half a million dollars this season, which is a huge bargain for a defensive end that’s capable of starting.

That deal looks when even better compared to his teammate across the line Ezekiel Ansah, as Detroit owes their franchise tagged defensive end more than 17 million dollars this season. If Hyder Jr. can produce at almost the same level Ansah for about 5 percent of the cost, it may be wise to pay him and let Ansah walk in 2019.

What separates Hyder Jr. from other defensive linemen of his calibar is simply his drive. Just watch his highlights from the 2016 season. He is not the biggest or the fastest linemen, but he simply does not give up in his pursuit, using one elusive move and good old-fashioned hustle to get into the backfield.

For the record, I am not saying the Lions should not draft a defensive linemen in the first round. If prospects like Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport are still available at #20, it would be hard for Bob Quinn and co. to pass on them.

Next: Lions NFL draft 3.0: 7-rounds, beyond the mock

But the Detroit Lions do have to remember that no matter who they draft in the first round, they’ll have a hungry, forgotten, potential starter sitting on their depth chart.