From clueless to productive?
One of the two players that seem to have the most to prove is defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand. The former fourth-round pick showed the ability to be a play-maker early in his career. Unfortunately, in the two seasons since his outstanding rookie campaign, he has been oft-injured and it has contributed to his inconsistency.
If Hand can stay healthy and focused he has the ability to be a difference-maker on the Lions’ defense. With the additions of Michael Brockers, draft picks Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill, and the return of leading sacker Romeo Okwara, Hand should have enough talent around him to allow him the chance to play up to his potential.
Hand definitely has much to prove and if he does, then it can only help make Aaron Glenn’s defense better. However, I think there is one other player that has even more to prove, and his NFL life may just depend on his ability to do just that.
That player would be safety Will Harris.
When the Lions selected Harris out of Boston College in the third round of the 2019 draft, the book on him was that he was a leader and an enforcer. His physicality would allow him to become a presence in Detroit’s secondary that could help be a tone-setter.
Instead, Harris has spent his time being lost. Whenever he’s been on the field he has made mistake after mistake. Now the truth may be that he just can’t measure up to what former general manager Bob Quinn saw in him, however, Harris does deserve a benefit of the doubt.
Many fans are ready to see Harris cut today, yet what we need to remember is that many players on Matt Patricia’s defense over the past three seasons looked lost. Patricia presided over the most clueless defense in the NFL during his time in Detroit and much of that could just be a poor scheme with worse coaching.
My intention isn’t to give Harris a free pass because he has struggled mightily, but how many fans and even members of the media have backed the idea that they want to see how the players that remain will respond to the coaching from Dan Campbell’s staff?
Harris does have talent and he plays a position of weakness. So the spotlight will probably shine a little brighter and hotter on his efforts.
If Aaron Glenn can connect with Harris and turn a once confused player into a confident and steady performer, it will only be for the betterment of the Lions’ defense.
There are many of Patricia’s former players that will need to step up their game to carve out a niche for themselves in the Dan Campbell era. However, Will Harris may not only have the most to prove but he could also be one of the biggest benefits to the Lions if he does.