The Detroit Lions added several new faces this offseason. Here are three who could surprise.
The Detroit Lions are on a quest to become a winning team again. After two straight seasons of posting losing records, Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford expects the team to be a playoff contender in 2020.
And in order to make that happen, Detroit has added several new faces to their roster. Here are three newly-added veterans who could surprise fans with career performances this upcoming season.
Nick Williams, DT
It’s rare for a journeyman player to find their groove just before their 30th birthday. But that’s what seemed to happen for defensive tackle Nick Williams last year. Having never recorded a single sack in his previous four NFL seasons, Williams racked up 6.0 sacks as a five-game starter for the Chicago Bears in 2019.
That sudden surge of production earned Williams a two-year, $10 million deal in Detroit this offseason as a free agent. Last month, we pondered whether this late bloomer could record a double-digit sack total in his first season with the Lions. If so, and it will prove Williams isn’t a one-year wonder.
Duron Harmon, S
Safety Duron Harmon came to the Lions via a trade with the New England Patriots back in March. And the ex-Patriot could earn himself a starting role beside Lions safety Tracy Walker this summer. Harmon’s versatility and knowledge of head coach Matt Patricia’s defensive scheme could ultimately allow Walker’s game to reach new heights entering his third season.
The 29-year old Harmon recorded 22 total tackles, five pass deflections, and two interceptions while starting in a career-high eight games for the Pats last season. In Detroit, the veteran’s numbers could skyrocket if Patricia decides to make him his starter early.
Can Big V upgrade the Detroit Lions’ offensive line?
Halapoulivaati Vaitai, OT
One of the biggest surprises of the offseason was the signing of offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai to a massive five-year, $50 million deal. Especially considering the fact the 2016 fifth-round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles has started in a total of only four regular-season games over the past two seasons.
Still only 26-years old, the player known as ‘Big V’ is entering his athletic prime. And the fact the Lions were willing to give Vaitai such a big contract speaks volumes about what they think the player is capable of.
In 2017, Vaitai started a career-high 10 games and helped the Eagles win their first Super Bowl title. If he’s able to prove he’s an upgrade over former starter Rick Wagner at right tackle this season, that would be a major win for this front office and should aid in keeping veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford upright and healthy.