Have the Detroit Lions solved their defensive issues?
Detroit Lions linebackers
Starters: Devon Kennard (OLB), Jarrad Davis (MLB/ OLB), Christian Jones (OLB)
OUT: Eli Harold
Depth: Jahlani Tavai (R), Steve Longa, Garret Dooley, Jalen Reeves-Maybin
UDFA/ other: Tre Lamar (R), Malik Carney (R), Anthony Pittman (R), Juwon Young (R)
The skinny: The big addition here is Tavai, who was the Lions second-round pick. Trey Flowers was their biggest offseason move and he doubles as an outside linebacker-edge player, although he is technically listed as a defensive end. The other starters are back, in what is still a relatively shallow group, talent-wise.
If you compare this group to the team it is being modeled after, it won’t take long to see that the Detroit Lions don’t have the same talent level. They have not committed the same number of draft resources to their linebackers or their defense, overall. However, the Detroit Lions don’t have to be the New England Patriots, they have to utilize the talent on the roster to its potential.
This means allowing players like Jarrad Davis to play both inside and off-the-ball linebacker, where he can rush the passer and use his considerable athletic gifts. Davis made the switch from being exclusively the middle linebacker to playing a large number of weakside snaps. Steve Longa and Jahlani Tavai will need to be effective to allow Davis to be moved around more in 2019.
The Lions are likely to keep about five players on the final roster going into the regular season. The last couple of spots will be filled by players who can function in several roles, not just play one position.