Who will be the Detroit Lions biggest surprise of 2020?

Detroit Lions (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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Austin Bryant, Detroit Lions (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Austin Bryant, Detroit Lions (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

There are many contenders on defense

There are many more contenders for the title on defense. Linebacker Jarrad Davis has been written off by many as a bust. What if he has a monster year? Jeff Okudah is expected to be a very good player in time, but what if he’s one of those very rare rookies who shines like a veteran?

Safety Duron Harmon who was acquired from the Patriots this offseason is perhaps one of the most overlooked player transactions in the NFL. He may not be spectacular, but he’s a leader and he’s always where he’s supposed to be.

The defense definitely has several players that need to turn in a good year to compete, but I think last season’s biggest weakness will have to supply their biggest surprise to make a big turnaround.

Da’Shawn Hand followed up an outstanding rookie campaign in 2018 with an injury-filled dud last year. If healthy, one would expect him to have a very good year. But because we expect it, it’s not the biggest surprise. Trey Flowers has big expectations due to his contract and how he finished last year, so he’s not in the equation.

Julian Okwara was the Lions third-round pick to help bolster the pass-rush. A prolific year from him, even as a rookie, wouldn’t be the biggest surprise in the universe either. Danny Sullivan was a force in the middle for New England last season and Nick Williams is coming off a career year himself in Chicago, so neither would be a big surprise if they play well.

That means that if there is a biggest surprise on the defense it will have to come from either end Romeo Okwara who was missing in action last season, rookie nose-tackle John Penisini, rookie end Jashon Cornell or second-year end Austin Bryant.

I think the easy pick would Romeo Okwara having a big bounce-back season spurred on by the competition with his brother that helps him put together a solid season and give some much-needed contributions to the pass-rush.

However, I am going in a different direction. I think Austin Bryant is that big surprise that could unexpectedly contribute to the Lions much-needed pass-rush. Last season he was not only a rookie learning a complex defense, but he was injured most of the year.

If Bryant can stay healthy, then he has the ability to be the type of depth contributor the Lions need to be more consistent pressuring opposing passers.

For the Lions to contend this season and make any kind of push towards the postseason, the defense will have to be much-improved and that especially means turning around their anemic pass-rush.

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I still think they will need to be more willing to blitz to really turn around the pass-rush, but one way or another the defensive line will have to be improved in their efforts and Austin Bryant contributing to the cause would probably be the biggest surprise to many fans. What do you think?