Detroit Lions Season Preview, Predictions & Best Bets

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Sam Jordan takes a look at the Detroit Lions roster and predicts the team’s season win total as we enter the new Football season.

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Well everyone, it’s football season yet again! But, most importantly, it is the first Detroit Lions season under Coach Dan Campbell. In this article, you will see the Lions’ 53 Man Roster and how I graded them based on the preseason games and what I think their strengths and weaknesses are at this point.

You will see that I’m not predicting that the Lions will be ready for the Super Bowl this season, but we have a lot to look forward to! Believe me, if we can become a playoff team or even have a winning season, many Lions fans will be happy. I hope you enjoy this concise and worthwhile read, it should get you pumped to “Defend the Den!”.

Detroit Lions 53-Man Roster Analysis/Grade

Offense

Quarterback:

QB1: Jared Goff

QB2: David Blough

QB3: Tim Boyle (IR) out 6-8 weeks

Grade: B

Analysis: Jared Goff only played in 1 preseason game, so it was a battle between Boyle and Blough to get the backup QB job.

Boyle had a difficult time commanding the offense in the first 2 preseason games, which allowed Blough to shine and make a big statement to make him QB2. In the first half of the Colts game, Boyle cut open his thumb and eventually found out he broke his thumb and is now on the IR, which allowed Blough to earn the backup QB job. 

Running Back:

RB1: D’Andre Swift

RB2: Jamaal Williams 

RB3:Jermar Jefferson (R)

RB4: Godwin Igwebuike 

FB: Jason Cabinda

Grade: B+

Analysis: Lions fans never got to see Swift play in a preseason game, which is concerning to many, but Campbell didn’t want to aggravate his groin injury any further. Jamaal Williams is ready to be the 1-2 punch for the Lions alongside Swift.

Jermar Jefferson was selected in the 7th Round this year and is a very explosive running back. He rushed for 72 yards on 18 carries and 1 Touchdown in 3 preseason games. Godwin Igwebuike played safety at Northwestern and went undrafted in 2018. 3 years later he earned his spot on the Lions roster but at RB. He ran for 46 yards on 15 carries and 2 touchdowns, while also 4 kickoffs for 116 yards. Jason Cabinda is a great blocker and if need be can catch the ball on short yardage plays. 

Wide Receiver:

WR1: Tyrell Williams (starter)

WR2: Kalif Raymond (starter)

WR3: Amon-Ra St. Brown (R)  (starter)

WR4: Quintez Cephus

WR5: KhaDarel Hodge 

WR6: Tom Kennedy         

WR7: Trinity Benson

Grade: C-

Analysis: This year will be a tough one for the WR room. Tyrell Williams is 5 seasons removed from his 1,000 yard season and has battled injuries since then, but if he can stay healthy he’ll be a reliable target. Kalif Raymond is a very quick receiver that gives a great opportunity for yards after catch and a reliable return man. St. Brown is a rookie and the new slot receiver but has a great opportunity to become WR2. He has great hands but what makes him so special is his spectacular route running.

Cephus caught 20 receptions for 349 yards and 2 touchdowns in his rookie season last year. Cephus has the chance to increase his role on the offense and build upon last year. Kennedy had a strong preseason of 8 receptions 107 yards in just 2 games and showed Campbell that he is capable of being a reliable receiver on the team.

KhaDarel Hodge was just signed via waivers and Trinity Benson is coming to Detroit via a trade with the Broncos. They both can contribute to the team but don’t know in what capacity just yet. 

Tight End:

TE1: T.J. Hockenson 

TE2: Darren Fells

Grade: B

Analysis: Hockenson is primed for the biggest season of his life. He more than likely will be leading the Lions in all the major receiving categories. Hockenson is already top 5 tight end in the league.

Fells comes back to Detroit after his lone season in 2017. Fells is a good blocker but with his 6’7 frame he’s proven himself as a reliable red zone threat. But the depth at the TE position is extremely weak. If Hockenson or Fells gets injured, Lions will suffer with no TE’s on roster with any NFL experience.

Offensive Line:

LT: Taylor Decker

LG: Jonah Jackson                                             

C: Frank Ragnow                                               

RG: Halapoulivaati Vaitai

RT: Penei Sewell (R)  

Bench: Matt Nelson (OT), Evan Brown (OG), Logan Stenberg (OG)

Grade: B+

Analysis: The offensive line will be one of the top 10 this season. Decker and Ragnow return as the leaders of the O-line. Vaitai moves from RT to RG which is his natural position and hoping to improve his blocking abilities. Jackson surprised many fans when he started at LG as a rookie last season, he will be a key component for improving our rushing attack.

Sewell was drafted 7th overall this year and was considered a generational type talent at the tackle position. He struggled a bit in the preseason because he had to move from LT to RT, which now causes him to change the positioning of his feet and blocking style. If Sewell can adjust to the right tackle position well, that will give Jared Goff great pass protection.

The depth on the OL is not deep which could be costly if any starters get injured.

Defense 

Edge Rushers: 

EDGE 1: Trey Flowers                                                     

EDGE 2: Romeo Okwara

Bench: Julian Okwara, Austin Bryant, Charles Harris                                                     

Grade: B 

Analysis: The Lions will be running a 3-4 defense which moves our EDGE rushers to OLB. The EDGE rushers are the same as last year but healthier. Flowers and R. Okwara have worked together for the past few seasons and will be the leaders of the defensive line.

R. Okwara is coming off a stellar year in which he set countless personal best stats. J. Okwara is healthy now after missing all of last season and is set to make a huge impact on the field. Austin Bryant is another player who has a ton of potential but has been injured during his time in Detroit. If Bryant stays healthy he will help with the pass rush and on special teams.

Harris signed a prove it deal with Detroit this offseason. A former 1st round pick that is still capable of disrupting the opposing offenses when given the opportunity. 

Defensive Tackle:

DT1: Michael Brockers 

DT2:Alim McNeill (R)

DT3: Levi Onwuzurike (R)

Bench: Nick Williams, Da’Shawn Hand (IR), John Penisini, Kevin Strong

Grade: B+

Analysis: Brockers came to Detroit in a trade (via LA Rams) this offseason and was an instant upgrade at the DT spot. Brockers turns 31 this season but yet he makes a continuous impact on the defense and will look to mentor the young players on the defensive line.

McNeill and Onwuzurike were drafted this year. McNeill moves very quickly for a 320lb lineman and will get to the opposing QB with ease. Onwuzurike is great at using his hands to shed the block to apply pressure on the QB, which is very hard to stop especially when he bull rushes the lineman.

Williams is back for his second year with Detroit, probably won’t get much playing time but will get after the QB when his number gets called. Hand has had an injured tenure while here in Detroit and starts the season on the injured reserve but when he’s healthy he adds much needed depth at the DT position.

Penisini had a decent 2020 season for being a rookie and playing under the previous regime. Penisini and Strong are both well rounded interior lineman and will perform well when given the opportunity. 

Linebacker:

LB1: Jamie Collins Sr. 

LB2: Alex Anzalone

Bench: Derrick Barnes (R), Jalen Reeves- Maybin, Anthony Pittman

Grade: C-

Analysis: Collins Sr. is the leader of the linebackers. He has a lot of talent that will disrupt the opposing offenses. Anzalone is another player on a prove it deal that is a hard hitter and has the ability to blitz up the middle.

Barnes is one of the rookies that will immediately make an impact. Barnes is a ballhawk constantly watching where the ball goes and great closing speed. Barnes had a phenomenal preseason and showed the coaches he is ready for the starting job. Reeves-Maybin and Pittman may not get much playing time on the defense but will be key components on special teams. 

Cornerback:

CB1: Jeff Okudah

CB2: Amani Oruwariye 

CB3: A.J. Parker (R)  

Bench: Ifeatu Melifonwu (R), Bobby Price, Jerry Jacobs (R)  

Grade: C

Analysis: The cornerback room is extremely young but has a lot of talent. Okudah was given so much criticism last season but will prove them all wrong. He is healthy, has a year under his belt and is ready to be the lockdown corner he was at Ohio State.

Oruwariye performed well last season and is not done proving people wrong. Oruwariye has improved his overall playing ability during the offseason because of the new defensive backs Coach Pleasant working on his weaknesses from last season. Parker as an undrafted free agent (UDFA) made the roster after his unbelievable preseason. He outperformed numerous veterans and became the starting nickel cornerback.

Melifonwu was drafted this year and will be a key contributor not only on the defense but the special teams. His quickness to get to the ball, hard hitter and his 6’3 frame makes him a unique player that could also play at the safety position.

Price is another player that won’t get much playing time but will make an impact on the special teams. Jacobs made the team as an UDFA and will be used heavily on the special teams but will not get much playing time on the defense. 

Safety:

SS: Will Harris

FS: Tracy Walker

Bench: Dean Marlowe, C.J. Moore 

Grade: C

Analysis: Harris has struggled the past few seasons but, with the new 3-4 defensive scheme allows Harris and Walker to be comfortable and boost the confidence of their playing abilities. Walker has been one of the trusted defenders on our defense for the past few seasons.

Marlowe signed a 1 yr contract this offseason and will bring the veteran experience and leadership to the team. Moore will not get a lot of playing time at the safety position unless someone gets hurt but will be a factor on the special teams. 

Special Teams:

P: Jack Fox

LS: Scott Daly

K: Austin Siebert 

K: Zane Gonzalez 

Grade: A-

Analysis: The MVP of our team last year was Jack Fox. He is the best punter in the league and will go to the Pro Bowl for the second straight year. Daly is in as the new long snapper after beating out 17 year veteran Don Mulbach.

The starting kicker as of right now is Siebert, but that could change. The Lions signed Gonzalez to the practice squad in order for him to still compete for the starting job after performing well during the preseason. 

Detroit Lions Predicted Season Win Total

Predicted Wins: Season win total will be between 5-8 wins. 

San Francisco, Chicago x2, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Denver, Minnesota, Atlanta

  1. If the offense can get a strong running game started that will take a lot off of Goff’s shoulders. Also if Sewell can get the footwork down at RT, it will allow the play to develop and Goff time to survey the field. 
  2. The defensive line needs to put constant pressure on the opposing QB and get through the line to clog up the gaps in the line. The young secondary needs to perform well each week and be aware of who they have. Also, if the Lions can limit their penalties on defense this season I believe it will give them more confidence and momentum each game. 
  3. If we can settle on a permanent starting Kicker our special teams will be one of the best in the league.

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