2020 Lions Defensive Need #1 – Pass Rusher
A big area of need is the pass rush. If you watch many of the games, you do see that Matt Patricia and Paul Pasqualoni don’t often rush more than four players and rely upon them to generate pressure. In that regard, the Detroit Lions rank twenty-seventh in sacks, where four of the top six producers are linebackers. Trey Flowers and Damon Harrison both have multiple sacks but are the only two in the top six.
Devon Kennard, Christian Jones, Jarrad Davis, and Jahlani Tavai, all linebackers, make up the other sack leaders, so much of the pressure comes from edge players instead of linemen. None of the Lions linebackers are particularly great pass rushers but Kennard is above average. We would expect Bob Quinn to address this issue, hopefully with a player who resembles do-everything linebacker Josh Allen, who was drafted one pick ahead of Lions tight end TJ Hockenson in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Honestly, the Lions need more than one linebacker or edge rusher to improve the unit as a whole. Christian Jones was extended recently but offers his best value as a situational, rotation player. The Lions would benefit most from a three-down player to pair with Devon Kennard but who is a better coverage option. The general athleticism is below average and affects both the pass rush and coverage of the middle of the defense.
After starters Kennard, Davis, and Jones, with Tavai subbing in at middle linebacker for Davis, the depth is thin with Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Steve Longa being the only other options. Reeves-Maybin has been a great special teams player and has looked better than average in pass coverage but the depth here is thin.