Bob Quinn and the Detroit Lions have plenty of needs to fill in free agency. One area I expect the team to focus on is improving the defensive line.
The Detroit Lions defense was abysmal in the 2019 season. They finished dead last in passing yards allowed, 31st for total yards allowed, 21st for rushing yards allowed, and 26th in points allowed per game. Needless to say, it’ll be imperative for the Lions to add some much needed talent on that side of the ball this offseason.
The defensive line was supposed to be a strength of the Lions in 2019, but to say that group failed to meet expectations would be an understatement. Here are some defensive line players under 30-years old that will become free agents in March that the Lions should spin the tires on.
Interior Defensive Line
Chris Jones – The Kansas City Chiefs would be crazy to let Jones go. But if they do, he should be the Lions number one priority. He’s only 25 years old and in the prime of his career. He totaled 9.0 sacks in 2019 over 13 games.
Jordan Phillips – Phillips had a remarkable 2019 with the Buffalo Bills totaling 9.5 sacks. At 27 years old, he should command great interest and a pretty penny on the open market.
Adam Butler – Butler signed with the New England Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2017 when Lions head coach Matt Patricia was the defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots. Butler is only 25-years old and had a solid 2019 season with 6.0 sacks and eight quarterback hits.
Danny Shelton – While Shelton never played for Patricia, as he joined the Patriots in 2018 (one year after he left to become the head coach of the Detroit Lions), the New England ties could be enough to land him here in Detroit.
Shelton began his career being drafted in the first round by the Cleveland Browns prior to being traded to the New England Patriots in 2018. Danny had 3.0 sacks this past year to pair with 30 tackles and a forced fumble.
Arik Armstead – Arik was drafted in the first round in 2015 by the San Francisco 49ers. I would be shocked if the 49ers didn’t lock up the 26-year old Armstead prior to free agency beginning in March. He had a double digit sack total in 2019 with 10.0 to go along with 32 tackles and two forced fumbles.
Shaq Lawson – Lawson didn’t have the highest sack total for the Buffalo Bills in 2019 with only 6.5 sacks, but he did rack up 18 quarterback hits and would pair beautifully on the opposite side of Trey Flowers. Lawson came out of Clemson and was drafted in the first round. At only 26-years old, Shaq is in line for a big payday.
Yannick Ngakoue – Yannick is the youngest player on this list at only 24-years young. He tallied 17 quarterback hits along with 8.0 sacks in 2019, not to mention an interception returned for a touchdown and four forced fumbles! He’s a little small for a defensive end at 6-foot-2, but production and tape don’t lie.
Jadeveon Clowney – Clowney didn’t have the most productive year as a pro this year with only 3.0 sacks, but he did hit the quarterback 13 times and forced four fumbles. The former first overall pick in 2014 will turn 27-years old on Valentines Day.
If the Detroit Lions can land any one these top young free agents, maybe the defensive line can be not so terrible next year. But what do you think? Which of these defensive lineman do you think Detroit should sign? Let us know in the comment section below.