Did the Lions solidify defensive tackle enough?
I think another reason that the Lions did not put more of an emphasis on the defensive line is how they feel about their roster. While it is not as deep or talented on the defensive line as we would like, apparently Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia don’t feel too bad about it.
While we all talked about how great it would have been if Chase Young dropped to Detroit because of their need for an edge rusher, the combination of ends Trey Flowers, Romeo Okwara, Austin Bryant, and Jashon Cornell are an interesting mix when coupled with the ability of Jamie Collins and Julian Okwara coming off the edge at linebacker.
That’s not even counting Da’Shawn Hand who will wreak havoc from tackle and end if healthy.
Quinn admitted that the Lions are expecting big things from Bryant and entering last season I thought he was an under the radar player who could surprise. Unfortunately, injury wiped out his season except for the last few games.
Given the opportunity, I also think Bryant could surprise. With a little help from the linebackers, the edge-rush should be much better next season. Maybe not great, but certainly much better.
The real question mark is at defensive tackle. Danny Shelton played very well for the Patriots last season. If that’s the Danny Shelton the Lions are getting then he was a bargain. The same can be said for Nick Williams who had a break-out season for Chicago, but it’s hard to count on break-out seasons.
Players with consistently good seasons deserve to be counted on for a high level of play. They have earned it on the field. One-hit wonders are a dime a dozen and rarely become building blocks for a franchise.
So the real question is; what will Bob Quinn do now to solidify the defensive tackle position? If nothing else at least make it deeper? Beyond Shelton and Williams, there aren’t many bodies left on the roster that have made many contributions of note in the NFL.
Sixth-round pick John Penisini, who Quinn and Patricia seem to really like, could make the team as a two-down run-stuffer, but he doesn’t have the skill set to be much of a contributor pushing the pocket.
One would have to believe that Bob Quinn will try to add at least one more defensive tackle to the roster. It may not be until after he has taken care of the much-needed contract extension for Kenny Golladay, but one would have to believe the Lions can’t just leave the middle of their defensive line so thin.
In the end, sure Da’Shawn Hand, Jashon Cornell, and even Trey Flowers can be moved over to get some snaps up the middle. But sooner or later the Lions just need to be adequately stocked at the position.
The Detroit Lions have received quite a bit of kudos for how they performed in the 2020 virtual NFL draft. But if the middle of the defensive line doesn’t hold up due to not enough talent or depth, especially if the injury bug hits the defensive line hard again, then that omission could come back to haunt Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia big time.