Analyst points to supposed big question mark Detroit Lions just don't have

For some reason, analysts think the Lions have a roster problem they just don't have.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In shaping a checklist for each team over the rest of the offseason, Matt Holder of Bleacher Report had "add a linebacker" on the list for the Detroit Lions. Pro Football Focus recently ranked the Lions' linebacker group 22nd in the league.

A big part of the idea the Lions aren't good enough at linebacker, or need to add one, is rooted in the ups and downs Jack Campbell had as a rookie last year. He needs to carry his offseason momentum right through to the season, but he will be given every opportunity to take a more prominent role this year.

The Lions have three, or truly four, linebackers who could start for a lot of other teams (Alex Anzalone, Campbell, Derrick Barnes, Malcolm Rodriguez). As a rookie in 2022, Rodriguez started 15 games, had 87 total tackles and was a top-50 overall graded linebacker by Pro Football Focus. Last year, he was relegated to a lot of special teams and occasional snaps at fullback.

There's also Jalen Reeves-Maybin, who only made the Pro Bowl as a special teamer last year and was excellent in the defensive snaps he played (88.6 overall PFF grade).

Another analyst points to problem the Lions just don't have

Finding real holes on the Lions' roster is a tough exercise. In naming one possible remaining free agent signing for each team before training camp, Lorenzo Reyna of Pro Football Network went to the linebacker well for Detroit.

"Detroit Lions: Kwon Alexander, Linebacker"

"As stacked as the Detroit Lions are across the field, linebacker remains a big question mark."

"Rookie Jack Campbell was met with mixed results in ’23 and appeared to have difficulty adjusting right away to the speed of the NFL. Perhaps he will take leaps in 2024, but Kwon Alexander is among the fastest LBs available and can be another option for them."

Alexander spent last season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, playing nine games before an injury ended his season early. He led the NFL in solo tackles with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2016, and made the Pro Bowl the following year. He has bounced around in recent years, spending time with the 49ers, Saints, Jets and Steelers since 2019. He played in all 17 games and started 12 for the Jets in 2022.

That stretch with the Saints provides a tie to the Lions' coaching staff. Dan Campbell and Aaron Glenn were on Sean Payton's staff when Alexander was acquired from the 49ers during the 2020 season. So there is some level of presumed familiarity there, and when the Lions had a greater need at linebacker a couple years ago Alexander did make some sense.

But now, at least until something changes the equation (an injury, trading Rodriguez?), adding a linebacker doesn't make a lot of sense for the Lions. Not that Alexander can be choosy with where he signs at this point, if any team wants to sign him, but the Lions are very unlikely to be that team.

Even if some analysts seem to think they have an issue at linebacker.


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