Detroit Lions: Which second-year player will break out in 2020?

Detroit Lions defense (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions defense (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Of the Detroit Lions second-year players, we believe this one will break out in 2020.

It can be argued that Bob Quinn, the general manager of the Detroit Lions, hasn’t exactly had the strongest of drafts during his five-year stint in the Motor City. I think we can all agree that left tackle Taylor Decker and center Frank Ragnow have both been solid first-round picks for the Lions. And Quinn has had some success in the later rounds.

However, when you look at the 2019 draft class, which second-year player would you predict to have a huge breakout season in 2020? I believe most fans would automatically look at tight end T.J. Hockenson or linebacker Jahlani Tavai. I believe it will actually be third-round pick, safety Will Harris.

Harris played just over 58 percent of defensive snaps last year, the highest percentage of snaps played by any of last year’s rookies in Detroit. That includes the two players selected ahead of him in the draft.

The fact Harris played so mush was surprising but very believable considering just how much time he filled in for injured veterans like Quandre Diggs and Tavon Wilson early last year. Then he was thrust into the starting position after Diggs was traded to the Seattle Seahawks halfway through the season.

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The stats don’t exactly stand out but are comparable for a rookie safety trying to learn in the NFL. As a six-game starter in 2019, Harris recorded 43 total tackles, three pass deflections, and a sack.

Harris did play mostly special teams in his first few games. But, as I just mentioned earlier, injuries helped him to earn more time. And he had some struggles early in the season.

How did Will Harris perform as a rookie for the Detroit Lions?

Harris was then was able to start three games for Detroit, playing every snap in Week Eight, Week Nine, and Week Eleven. His play dipped slightly afterward, as well as his playing time.

The rookie defender gave up his first touchdown in Week 15 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Harris was again put more on special team’s duty. In the last game of the season against the Green Bay Packers, he did show improvement by getting the first sack of his career against quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Harris showed a lot of potential in his first year despite having a few rookie mistakes. But show me a player who players perfectly in his first year.

With the addition of new defensive coordinator Cory Undlin and considering how much he likes to utilize different types of pass rush schemes, Harris could have a much bigger role in this year’s defense. And the offseason trade for Duron Harmon will allow the second-year safety to learn from a veteran with a vast knowledge of head coach Matt Patricia’s defensive scheme.

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Despite all the obstacles in his way, Will Harris still has a great opportunity to have a big year this upcoming season. And that could mean good things for the Detroit Lions in 2020.