Detroit Lions areas to target on defense
Barring some miracle where defensive end Chase Young falls to the Detroit Lions in the draft, the Lions are going to have to start addressing the edges of their defense and pass rush in free agency. This means looking for help at defensive end or outside linebacker candidates.
The Lions employed a lot of three-man rushes, with man coverage behind them. Too often, the overmatched ends failed to get home despite one-on-one matchups. Injuries played a big role in the lack of talent available as the defensive line lost many of its best defenders.
The Detroit Lions players that were limited and have now become free agents are Mike Daniels, A’Shawn Robinson, and recently released Damon Harrison. However, defensive ends Romeo Okwara and Da’Shawn Hand both missed significant time but are returning for 2020. Austin Bryant was a rookie who was played sparingly near the end of the season after recovering from previous injuries.
Devon Kennard is a blue-collar player who has been holding down an outside linebacker spot for the last three years and offers consistency but is a limited athlete. Jarrad Davis has been used both at the weakside linebacker and middle linebacker but lacks the presence and consistency that his athleticism and first-round selection suggests. Jahlani Tavai, a second-round rookie, performed well but still isn’t a finished product as an inside linebacker.
Christian Jones is a flex player at outside linebacker who is mostly a situational pass-rusher but the front office thought that he earned a raise and signed him to an extension coming into 2020. Like all of the Detroit Lions linebacker and edge players, he is another guy that you don’t want to try to cover an opposing tight end or running back.
The Detroit Lions have flirted with the idea of trading superstar cornerback Darius Slay, who has recently turned 29, for the right price. Whether this happens or not, Quinn has to improve the man-to-man heavy coverage scheme by adding talent besides rookie Amani Oruwariye who only got reps after the season was lost. Justin Coleman, last year’s free-agent prize, is best suited to slot duty but is a capable player.