An overlooked player needs to breakout
There are several rookies that could step up and give the Lions a much-needed boost but for the sake of this discussion, I will focus on veteran players only. Any rookie that steps up will be valued and certainly help Detroit’s cause, but there are many veterans that need to earn their keep.
Especially at key positions.
With all the offseason moves made to improve the Lions ground game and a passing game that returns intact with an MVP candidate in Matthew Stafford, there is one player who could be that break-out candidate; tight end T.J. Hockenson.
He is definitely a player that I believe will establish himself as a rising force to be reckoned with, but it is not necessarily as imperative as someone stepping up on defense.
For many people, this will probably direct their attention straight at middle linebacker Jarrad Davis. Obviously if Davis is able to put all the pieces together and see the light, it would make a big difference on a defense that needs difference-makers.
However, because of the presence of second-year linebacker Jahlani Tavai and the acquisition of Jamie Collins who can also play in the middle, it isn’t necessarily imperative for Davis to have a big year, although it certainly wouldn’t hurt either.
Safety Tracy Walker is another good option, but he has been steadily improving and continued improvement will be enough to make him a difference-maker. Duron Harmon and Will Harris would also be welcomed to break-out, but if they can be part of a steady three-man rotation at safety, then that will help improve the defense.
Cornerback Desmond Trufant just has to prove he hasn’t lost it yet. Remember that he wasn’t released by Atlanta due to his play. It was a cost-cutting move. Amani Oruwariye breaking out would give the Lions a very good secondary, but again, the secondary isn’t this defenses biggest problem.
Even with the trade of Darius Slay.
When all is said and done, that break-out player needs to come from the defensive line. Nose-tackle Danny Shelton broke-out last season and just needs to keep playing at that level. Da’Shawn Hand needs to come back and be an impact player, but technically he broke out in his rookie season. He just has to return to that form at least, and his contributions will be more than enough.
For me, that leaves one overlooked player with a lot of talent that can bring to the table what this defense needs the most to improve themselves; heat off the edge.