With the end of every season comes the often harsh debrief and with the start of the new campaign comes a wave of optimism with, ordinarily, bouts of overestimated hype.
Here we look to ‘keep it real’ as we assess what the new season holds in store for the Detroit Lions in the NFL lines.
How has the Detroit Lions roster changed?
It didn’t take long to see that this was going to be an eventful offseason for the Lions. They quickly went out to bring in D.J. Chark during free agency. The former Jaguar is a big bodied wide receiver that will slot nicely into this side; the Lions have been crying out for a sizeable receiver that can stretch the field outside of Josh Reynolds – Chark could well be that man. Of course, that was far from the last arrival we’ve seen in Detroit.
On top of the early addition of Chark, the Lions also drafted in a couple of intriguing prospects. Jameson Williams is a wideout with paces to burn, which means he’ll keep opposition defenses very much on their toes during 2022. Despite those additions, it was perhaps their first draft pick, Aidan Hutchinson from Michigan, that holds the most potential. Sure, it’s a lot of pressure on young shoulders but, as the number two overall pick, he should add an entirely new dimension to this team. All in all, the Lions have recruited well.
Despite smart additions, it’s important to note that it’s not been all bodies coming in the door; there have been a few heading out as well. In reality though, there haven’t been many leave that will have brought tears to the eyes of the Lions fanbase though. The most notable exit was unquestionably the linebacker that is Jalen Reeves-Maybin; he was quickly replaced though with the addition of Jarrad Davis. A similar thing can be said about KhaDarel Hodge and safety Dean Marlowe, who joined the Atlanta Falcons. With all that under consideration, there could be some dressing room holes to fill but, on the whole, the roster looks stronger than it did last year.
A change of culture
We’ve already looked at some good work taking place in the recruitment area and it is not a particularly well kept secret that the Lions are aiming to build something special in Detroit. There were signs of this throughout last season with a new coaching set up introduced, however, things don’t just click overnight – it’s not a computer game.
One key term that is often thrown around is ‘culture’. Well, whilst it is a buzz term in sports, the Lions dressing room is seemingly undergoing that change now with Tracy Walker’s decision to re-sign with the organisation on a smaller contract than before perhaps an indication of what has shifted behind the scenes. We know there were offers from elsewhere for Walker too so it would suggest this Lions side is one that people want to represent; that is no small fact.
Last but not least we look at ‘star power’. What we mean by this is who do the Lions have to step up and lead this team to glory. In our mind there are a handful of players – excluding the recent rookie additions – that could make the jump from ‘solid contributor’ to star man next season. The first of those players in Amon-Ra St Brown. Brown had a campaign of two halves last year; he was close to woeful in the first half of the season but then exploded into life in the second as he looked a man possessed; he even emerged as a regular touchdown scorer. This year you can expect him to be the Lions’ go to man in the offense. If this years starts as last one ended then the Lions fans are in for a treat because St Brown has the potential to be one of the best wideouts in the game.
St Brown won’t be expected to deliver all the good by himself though; Penei Sewell is another player that is mammoth in this Lions side. He’s only been around the league for a year so most people don’t see him as a Pro Bowl capable tackle but we – and seemingly the Lions – disagree.
He made quite the impression in his inaugural season as he operated as both a left and right tackle whilst also being tasked with protecting the blindside of Jared Goff as well. His performances didn’t go unnoticed either with Pro Football Focus grading him as the second best tackle in the league from week six onwards. This could be a big year for him.
There you have it, our guide to what awaits the Detroit Lions in the upcoming season. Who do you think is going to surprise most? Let us know in the comments below.