Which Detroit Lions rookie needs to shine the most in 2020?

Detroit Lions (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Julian Okwara, Detroit Lions
Julian Okwara, Notre Dame (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions have to improve their biggest weakness

Nothing is written in stone of course, but if we look ahead to next season it would certainly appear that the Lions offense has an opportunity to be pretty good. This is predicated upon the acquisitions that general manager Bob Quinn has made this offseason working out.

Which does include a handful of rookies selected in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Should these players be able to contribute as expected, then the Lions offense should indeed be exciting and put points on the board.

It is what I have been calling offensive optimism. Most fans that are feeling optimistic about next season have the offensive optimism. The question on everyone’s lips however is; can the offense carry the defense to a competitive finish?

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Last season, despite Matthew Stafford playing at an MVP level, the Lions had a losing record with him in the lineup. The reason? The defense was awful. Simply putrid. So the answer to the question of whether the offense can carry the defense is actually ‘no’. Unless the defense makes enough improvements to be competitive.

If the defense flipped the switch and became lights-out then there are no more questions to be had, but considering how much the defense has struggled under Matt Patricia, ironically enough, that kind of turnaround would be too much to hope for.

But what if they could improve in one of their weakest areas defensively last season? What if the Lions could actually create a pass-rush next season? Maybe not a lights-out rush, but a consistent enough rush to make passing downs a challenge for opponents.

This is where third-round pick Julian Okwara comes in.

The younger Okwara is a better athlete than his older brother who has played the last two seasons for Detroit. Julian has very good athleticism, enough power, and outstanding speed off the edge. He needs to be polished, but he has the raw ability to make an impact on the Lions pass-rush as a rookie.

An improved pass-rush would make the game easier for the linebackers and the secondary. It would also create more opportunities for turnovers. So while it will take the positive efforts of many of the Lions rookie class in order for these Lions to be competitive, any rookie who has a chance to help improve the Motor City’s woeful pass-rush has to be the player who needs to shine the brightest.

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It will definitely take a collective effort of everyone on the roster and good coaching to turn this team around, but unless the Lions’ biggest weakness, the pass-rush, doesn’t become discernibly better, then all is lost.