The Detroit Lions drafted only one pass rusher in 2020, and have not made the position to this point a major focus in free agency. That, however, could end up being by design as it relates to the future.
Bob Quinn was asked on a recent radio appearance on 97.1 The Ticket about his additions up front this offseason or lack thereof, and admitted he is expecting bigger things from Austin Bryant, a defensive lineman picked up in the 2019 draft out of Clemson.
Bryant missed most of last season with injury, but it’s true that he was an intriguing edge prospect prior to that injury taking place. If the Lions don’t add another lineman to rush the passer, it could be because they want Bryant to step up and do some bigger things. That’s just what Quinn might be hoping to inspire with this call out.
Austin Bryant’s Rookie Year With Lions
Picked up in the 4th round of the 2019 draft, the pass rusher out of Clemson got hyped as a hidden gem thanks to his production in college, but an injury helped his slip in the draft, and once he got to Detroit, he was quickly injured again with a nearly identical ailment to the one he sustained in school.
“It’s been tough, especially the whole draft process, couldn’t do anything. When I got here, I couldn’t do anything. Then to finally get cleared and have another little mishap to prolong it even more was tough, but just had to be patient,” Bryant told the media. “Had some great teammates giving me encouragement, coaches always encouraging me, so I was able to keep a positive attitude and continue to work.”
Perhaps ironically, not being able to have everything handed to him right away has helped Bryant in terms of motivation as well as slowing the game down. He’s had time to learn in his adjustment to the league, and reflect on why football means so much to him. Unlike many rookies who admit everything happens fast, Bryant has found the exact opposite to be true.
“I’ll never forget having to be patient, you come in as a rookie and you want to play right away, and having to sit back and wait. I think it’s kind of helped me more than anything,” he said. “I got fresh legs, I was able to learn as much as I could from the older guys and the coaches and be in the meetings so that was helpful.”
In the end, this might help Bryant be a better player and have even more staying power in the league, proving everything does happen for a reason. Perhaps he can use this motivation and come in 2020 ready to go.
Austin Bryant’s Fit in Lions Defense
When asked what he wants to do when he was revealed to be available again last season, Bryant was noncommittal. He simply wants to be able to step in for the team wherever he’s asked and do what he can to help the squad.
“Wherever they need me If that’s on the edge, if that’s on the inside somewhere. Wherever they need me I am more than willing to do whatever they ask,” he said. “My main goal is I just to help the team win, that’s it.”
Detroit could very well ask Bryant to the majority of his work off the edge in the future, considering the team has did not get after the quarterback much if at all last season.
Safe to say he will be another chess piece for Matt Patricia no matter where he might float around up front, and that’s what the team needs out of him next year.
Lions 2020 Draft Class
The Lions had a busy weekend, picking up cornerback Jeff Okudah, running back D’Andre Swift, guard Jonah Jackson, edge rusher Julian Okwara, guard Logan Stenberg, wideout Quintez Cephus, running back Jason Huntley, defensive tackle John Penisini and defensive lineman Jashon Cornell. As a whole, the draft class was solid in plenty of ways. Detroit addressed some of their biggest needs including a new cornerback as well as toughness on the offensive and defensive lines. They also added a potentially elite runner in Swift.
Many have graded the draft highly as a result, and it looks as if the Lions may have even found a few steals along the way to help them out as well. That might only prove to be the case if Okwara helps out Bryant and the Detroit pass rush isn’t a disaster in 2020.
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