Lions training camp will reveal how the rebuild is really going
After this offseason, these surely aren’t the same old Detroit Lions. And they don’t need to be. Under former head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn, the Lions regressed from a perennial playoff team to once again occupying the basement of the NFC North division.
New Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp introduced fans to a slew of changes including the replacement of both Patricia and Quinn with Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes respectively. And the new duo has been about the business of rebuilding what their predecessors destroyed.
Holmes and Campbell have been focused on the trenches early, as building from the inside out is clearly the priority. So much so that they used their first three selections in the 2021 NFL Draft on prospects who will play along their offensive and defensive lines.
Throw in a trade for a veteran defensive tackle in Michael Brockers, re-signing defensive end Romeo Okwara to a new three-year deal, and granting a nice, big four-year contract extension to Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow, there’s been a significant investment made along both lines in Detroit.
But fans will not really get a chance to see these changes at work until later this summer. Here’s what Tim Twentyman wrote for DetroitLions.com recently about wanting until training camp to see the real impact of this offseason’s changes.
"“OTAs and minicamp are conducted in helmets and shorts, which means there’s little we can learn from the run game and the offensive and defensive line play. There wasn’t any hitting or one-on-one pass-rush drills, so the evaluation of the big guys won’t come until training camp.”"
While the new regime in Motown has been focused on reinforcing their trenches, several other positional groups have been ignored. Most notably at both wide receiver and linebacker where the team suffered major losses in the offseason. Both positions weren’t addressed in the draft until day three.
Still, the plan to rebuild the Lions was never about one single season as the team has stacked extra first-round draft picks in both 2022 and 2023 following their trade of quarterback Matthew Stafford earlier this year.
So just how competitive the Lions will be this season will likely have to rely more on coaching talent than roster talent. But fans should get an idea of how the rebuild is going so far through the play of their offensive and defensive lines this summer.