Image Credit (Raj Mehta/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-mullick-354076184/
With Training Camp about to start for the NFL in a few weeks, there are questions that follow each team. Like I did with the Jaguars, I will be doing the Top 5 Biggest questions for every team heading into Training Camp. Next up is the Detroit Lions who had the 2nd Overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
1. Who will be the No 3 Receiver?
With the Detroit Lions, I think it's clear who the number 1 and 2 receiver of this team will be. They signed DJ Chark and drafted Jameson Williams. My question is who would be next up as the number 3 receiver for the team. A lot of receivers showed promise last year including Amon-Ra St. Brown, Kalif Raymond, Quintez Cephus, and Josh Reyolds. It will absolutely be a camp battle to watch as that role is open and anyone can take it.
2. Will the prospects of the 2021 NFL Draft class take the next step in their development?
I got to say the Free Agency for the Lions was very telling, as they did not do a lot bringing in players not named DJ Chark. It told me that the Detroit Lions are heavily relying on the prospects to be fully developed and have more of an impact on this team. Penei Sewell is going to be the starting right tackle, and he was great for the Lions. He needed to show that he can play great right away, as he struggled earlier in the season. Levi Onwuzurike was not terrible last season and was utilized as a rotational piece on defense. Alim McNeill showed a ton of potential last season as a run stopper. Ifeatu Melifonwu was not great at all and needs to improve in coverage. Amon-Ra St.Brown is competing for the number 3 receiver role. St. Brown impressed last season. Derrick Barnes actually produced at linebacker and was a tackling machine, but needs to be better with his coverage. Jermar Jefferson only rushed for 75 yards but did score 2 touchdowns. He is trying to get the #3 spot on the depth chart.
The point is a majority of the prospects last year showed potential or flashes. With the Lions not doing much via free agency, it seems like they're rolling the dice trying to see if the prospects are taking the next step in their development. It seems like a bad idea, but I honestly don’t blame Detroit as they are still rebuilding and want to take it slow. Hopefully, the prospects have another great season for the Lions.
3. Who will start with Aidan Hutchinson at pass rusher?
The pass rush was a clear issue for the Detroit Lions and almost everybody knew the Lions were going to select a pass rusher 2nd overall. It is clear that he will be one of the starters at the DE/EDGE position. However, this got me thinking, who will be the other pass rusher that will start for the Lions? I would immediately say Josh Paschal the 2nd round rookie and be done with it, but apparently, he is dealing with an injury and there is no word yet on when he will be ready to go. Romeo Okwara is coming back from a Torn Achilles and who knows when he will be back. Austin Bryant showed promise last year, and Charles Harris had a career resurgence. It will be a training camp battle to keep an eye on.
4. Who will stand out at Linebacker?
Out of all the positions on the Detroit Lions defense, I legit could not name a linebacker on this team. Excluding Alex Anzalone, There is not one linebacker on this team that I feel comfortable as a consistent starter. As of now here are the Linebackers on the Detroit Lions Josh Woods, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Chris Board, Derrick Barnes, Natrez Patrick, Malcolm Rodriguez, Anthony Pittman, and Jarrad Davis. Detroit did next to nothing in fixing the linebacker core except for drafting Malcolm Rodriguez and signing Jarrad Davis. On a side note, I don’t even know why the Lions brought back Jarrad Davis as he is terrible. One thing is for sure, these next few months will be very important in determining who will be the starters at linebacker.
5. Can Jeff Okudah stand out?
Jeff Okudah was once regarded as a top prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. He was selected 3rd overall in that draft and was expected to be the main piece that would fix that secondary. So far, that selection has not worked out at all. Mainly due to injuries as in his rookie season he dealt with a nagging hamstring/core muscle injury, and in his second season, he suffered a torn Achilles. Injuries suck and looking back to when he played healthy, Okudah was not great either. This is a very important season for Okudah as this could make or break his NFL Career as a Detroit Lions and he needs to stand out in a mediocre cornerback crew.