Detroit Lions roster depth: Are they better on defense?

Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)
Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Levi Onwuzurike, Detroit Lions
Levi Onwuzurike #95 of the Washington Huskies (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

How does the Detroit Lions roster depth look right now?

Nose men

Nose tackles in a 3-4 are generally space eaters, stout men who can hold the point of attack and allow the edge rushers to get to the quarterback while plugging the middle to stop the run. They align over the center, roughly, but will usually attack a gap to one side of the center or the other.

All rookies are denoted with an (R).

Nose candidates: Michael Brockers, John Penisini, Alim McNeil (R), and John Atkins

After signing the versatile Brockers, who can also swing out to end, during the offseason and drafting McNeil, the position looks to have enough depth to play with.

Ends of the line

Defensive ends in the 3-4 are usually schemed to attack the guards or tackles, depending upon the pressure. Generally, they line up on the inside shoulder of the tackle but specific alignments vary due to play-calls and personnel.

3-4 End candidates: Trey Flowers, Romeo Okwara, Da’Shawn Hand, Levi Onwuzurike (R), Nick Williams, Kevin Strong, Jashon Cornell, Joel Heath

Flowers is a bit undersized (265 versus the usual 280-300 pounds) for going inside and battling guards but any repetitions that ask him to put his hand in the dirt and take on a tackle in a 5-tech role are still up his alley. Hand needs to return to his rookie form to keep sticking on the Detroit Lions roster.

This group most drastically needed a prototype player and that seems why Onwuzurike was the first defensive choice. They love his ability to disrupt what offenses are trying to do. He famously said of himself via The Athletic’s Chris Burke:

"“I like f***ing people up. I like to get off the line and just put my helmet or my hands on an offensive lineman and f*** up an offensive scheme, pretty much. I like pushing ’em back 2, 3 yards and just making ’em feel like sh**.”"

Potentially, Romeo Okwara could also spend some time at the position, as well, although like Flowers, he’s not ideally sized for the rigors of the position, either. Both are more outside, edge rushers with Flowers being more adept at stopping the run there.