The Detroit Lions have a brand new roster set to attack the 2020 NFL season, and after a busy offseason of making additions to the roster, the team has improved the depth while making things stronger once again.
So when it comes to what the team is going to get in terms of position battles, how might things look this season when the team knocks helmets on the practice field once again? There’s no shortage of battles that are important to watch when the time is right.
Here’s a sneak peak at the team’s best position battles to remember coming into 2020.
Lions Offensive Line
Quite possibly this is the most interesting battle early on given the needs on the roster and what was done to address them. The Lions brought in Jonah Jackson and Logan Stenberg, a pair of the best guards in the 2020 draft class. While they let Graham Glasgow walk in free agency, the team brought back Oday Aboushi, and also has names like Beau Benzschawel, Russell Bodine, Caleb Benenoch, Josh Garnett and Joe Dahl in the mix. Additionally, Tyrell Crosby could play at the spot if the team elects to use him at guard instead of tackle, and the same could be said for Halapoulivaati Vaitai. All that ads up to create a spot that should be intriguing in how the position battles take shape this offseason. The rookies could be expected to have a major say in who wins the role, but if any struggle, there are no lack of capable veterans that could be ready to steal one of a pair of jobs that could be had up front.
Lions Running Backs
No matter what Matt Patricia says about how everyone figures to easily co-exist, it will be fascinating to see what transpires when D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson get it going on the practice field. Johnson is clearly going to get a major push from the rookie. Beyond that, Ty Johnson, Bo Scarbrough and rookie Jason Huntley will be fighting for carries as well. Suddenly, after some depth struggles the last few years, this group is surprisingly loaded. Swift is capable of stealing the majority of carries, but a healthy Johnson shouldn’t be discounted either.
Lions Defensive Line
Detroit hasn’t added that much to the defensive line this offseason, signing Danny Shelton who figures to make a difference and adding Julian Okwara in the draft. The argument can be made the team still needs another signing, but for now, they will roll into the season with what they’ve got. Can the Okwara brothers become a scary tandem? Can Trey Flowers be the elite guy the team needs? Will either John Penisini or Jashon Cornell make a big difference as low round draft picks? What about Austin Bryant? There’s a lot to sort out here, and plenty of roles to be won and positional battles to be waged in the meantime. It will be interesting to see if the Lions think they have enough on the roster to rush the passer, something they haven’t done well the last handful of seasons.
Lions Wide Receivers
Detroit’s group might be scary good in 2020 given the type of players they have and the strengths they bring to the table in terms of catching the ball. Kenny Golladay is a star in the making after an elite 2019 season, and Marvin Jones figures to have another solid, dependable season as well. Danny Amendola comes back in the slot role and will bring leadership and dependability, but what happens beyond that? Does Marvin Hall come back and reprise his role as a deep ball extraordinaire? Can rookie Quintez Cephus come in and win a role to see passes early? What happens with Geronimo Allison, a player who could be an overlooked addition that might end up playing a huge role? There’s a lot to like here that suggests the Lions could be in good shape as it relates to having one of the better groups in the NFL.
There’s been a ton of change at cornerback this offseason, and Detroit figures to have a pair of new starters in Desmond Trufant and Jeff Okudah. Justin Coleman will have a key role, but what happens beyond that? Amani Oruwariye needs to prove that he can have a solid sophomore season, and Darryl Roberts as well as Mike Ford feel to be in the mix for roles as well. The Lions have some clarity on what should be their starting group and what roles everyone should play, but there’s a lot of players from down the depth chart that can distinguish themselves. It will be interesting to see if Okudah lives up to the early hype and if Trufant can come in motivated following his stunning release this offseason.