Detroit Lions need to embrace Swift, Okwara, and future now

D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Lions, Jeff Okudah
Detroit Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah – Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit Lions core of players, Part II

Detroit Lions defense

This list is considerably shorter. The defense is terrible and not making progress under head coach Matt Patricia. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few pieces that we might keep if we chose to come to Detroit as a general manager or head coach.

The secondary offers some talent in young cornerbacks Amani Oruwariye, Jeff Okudah, Justin Coleman, and even Mike Ford is a flexible backup. Desmond Trufant is decent “when healthy” but that caveat is descriptive of far too many Detroit Lions players; Trufant has also only started about half of the games for his last two seasons while being given a $20 million dollar deal for two years by general manager Bob Quinn.

The safeties are a work-in-progress but Tracy Walker has been pretty good since arriving in 2018. Duron Harmon is a starter who can play but is in the same category as many Lions, “a former Patriots player who doesn’t have a bunch of years left.” Don’t misinterpret that statement, those players can play but for this conversation, they need to be separated from young players that can form the core of a new team. Will Harris hasn’t lived up to his 2019 third-round status and is in danger of not getting another deal once his rookie contract is up.

The defensive line is in rough shape, especially on the interior, where the Detroit Lions need help. On the edges, Trey Flowers is a solid player on a long-term deal with him being signed until the end of the 2023 season but has an out after next year built in where the cap hit would be manageable. Da’ Shawn Hand has flashed ability from the big end position and rookie Julian Okwara seems to have a bright future.

Past those few players, the Lions have filler players that are role-players like Romeo Okwara, Danny Shelton, and Nick Williams.

The linebackers are probably the unit in most need of a complete overhaul where Jamie Collins is a short-term starter who can play multiple roles and Jahlani Tavai still hasn’t seen the field enough to be sure that the former second-round pick doesn’t still have some upside, although the early returns aren’t promising. Jarrad Davis, one of Quinn’s first-round picks, performs poorly in longer stretches and is gone after this season.

Christian Jones and Reggie Ragland are veterans who are best served as backups but can play, they just aren’t building blocks for a new coaching staff.