Detroit Lions: Who are the X-Factors on defense this year?

Trey Flowers, Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Trey Flowers, Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /
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Tracy Walker, Justin Coleman, Will Harris, Detroit Lions
Tracy Walker, Justin Coleman, Will Harris, Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

Breaking down the Detroit Lions defense based on the key difference makers from each position group.

My focus last week was on the offensive side for the Detroit Lions. Taking one player from each position group, I sorted out players whose individual performance would likely have the biggest impact on their positions and the offense as a whole.

Barring injuries and major performance outliers, rookie D’Andre Swift is the player who I feel will be the most likely X-Factor for the offense this year. If he shines, the offense shines, and several players (Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay, T.J. Hockenson, and even Kerryon Johnson) could be elevated as a domino effect.

This week I running with the same concept, but the focus this time is on the defense. Same as before, ‘X-Factor’ doesn’t necessarily mean the ‘best’ or most talented player. It’s a player whose performance this season can have the largest impact (positive or negative in some cases) on their position group and for the defense. Here’s a look at the Lions 2020 defense from that perspective.

Who are the X-Factors on the Detroit Lions defense?

Defensive Backs

Even after signing veteran free agent Desmond Trufant, this secondary is young.  But they also have a lot to offer. Top draft pick Jeffrey Okudah brings the talent, Amari Oruwariye brings the potential, Trufant and Duron Harmon have the experience, and Justin Coleman brings the energy and aggression. There are a lot of exciting pieces, but it’s going to take some time for it all to click, and things could be rocky early on.

X-Factor – Tracy Walker, S

“Tracy Walker is going to be special” has been something of a secret password for diehard Lions fans to recognize each other of the last two years. In 2019, the free safety led the team in tackles despite playing in just thirteen games. At just 25 years old, Walker’s 3rd year could be the one where “going to be special” turns into “is special”, and if so, the young cornerbacks would have that much more of a chance to flourish.