How will depth help the Detroit Lions defensive line?

Defensive end Romeo Okwara #95 of the Detroit Lions (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Defensive end Romeo Okwara #95 of the Detroit Lions (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

The wait is nearly over, as training camp is approaching along with the 2021 season. And the Detroit Lions are ready to kick off the Dan Campbell era.

A lot has been made of the lack of star power on this roster, and because of that, there will be a larger emphasis on depth in Detroit. One position group that proves to be especially true, is on the defensive line.

As of now, the Lions have 11 bodies that will be competing in training camp for not only a spot on the 53-man roster but a starting role as well. In no particular order, those names are Michael Brockers, Trey Flowers, Romeo Okwara, Julien Okwara, Austin Bryant, Da’Shawn Hand, Nick Williams, Levi Onwuzurike, Alim McNeil, John Penisini, and Jashon Cornell.

More guys will compete for spots, but as of now, those are the most prominent names on the line. If someone were to emerge in training camp that would only add to the depth available. Not everyone will make the roster, but if we assume that eight or nine do, an interesting opportunity pops up for defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn.

The Lions will essentially be able, should they want to, to have two different four-man units that can change as you would see in a hockey game. Everyone goes out and gives their maximum effort for a brief stint, then changes to keep everyone fresh.

Having eight different bodies on a rotation that sees everyone playing around half of the snaps will allow Glenn to get really creative with his defensive fronts. Whether he chooses to have two balanced units or simply have a large variety of fronts depending on any given situation will be a huge advantage.

Beyond just keeping everyone fresh, it will also give this Detroit defense an added layer of unpredictability, which will give opposing offenses headaches. And Aaron Glenn will be able to mess around with so many different fronts to see what works. And he has the luxury to do that all season.

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Is anyone on the defensive line going to be a pro-bowler this season? Outside of maybe Romeo Okwara it seems unlikely. But what the Detroit Lions will possess is the versatility to put their guys in different spots to give them the best chances to succeed, which is exactly what Dan Campbell has been preaching since he got here.