Lions Sign Young Run Plugging Defender in Free Agency: Report

Daylon Mack

Getty Daylon Mack makes a tackle during a 2019 preseason game.

The Detroit Lions looked to the waiver wire to help their defense on Sunday, and weren’t disappointed with what they found.

In need of help along the defensive line, the team saw Daylon Mack on the free agency wire and jumped at the chance to add him. A former member of the Baltimore Ravens, Mack was released over the weekend as the Ravens cut down their roster to 80. The Lions were the beneficiary, getting Mack on waivers.

The defensive tackle enters a situation in Detroit where he could compete for snaps in the middle with players like John Penisini and Jashon Cornell. It remains to be seen whether or not Mack’s single year of experience in the league will prove to be an asset in this case.

Daylon Mack Stats

With only a single NFL appearance under his belt, Mack is far from a seasoned player. That being said, he’s got size on his size with a 6-1, 340 pound frame to work with. A former 5th round pick out of Texas A&M, Mack collected 108 tackles, 8 sacks and 2 forced fumbles during his college career. Known as a powerful run stuffer who can be quick on his feet, Mack could fit in Detroit in a rotational role.

Lions Defense Upgraded This Offseason

One side of the ball that needed the most change was the defense. After a horrible pair of seasons under Matt Patricia, there’s already been some big changes on that side of the ball. How will that impact the team when all is said and done? The returns will be very positive according to a different piece.

In a piece breaking down some winners and losers of free agency, Pro Football Focus and writer Ben Linsey took a closer look at what the Lions have done, and found them to be a winner. Here’s a look at what he wrote on that:

“The spotlight is on Darius Slay, particularly after he publicly acknowledged last night that he wants out of Detroit, and as of Thursday morning, a deal has been put in place to send Slay to the Eagles. That is not ideal for the Lions. Despite the down year from a grading standpoint in 2019 (56.4 PFF grade), Slay remains one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. During the five-year stretch from 2014 to 2018, he ranked eighth among qualifying cornerbacks in overall grade, and he routinely draws shadow assignments against the opposing team’s best wide receiver, making those results all-the-more impressive.

As all that trade speculation took place, the Lions went about improving their coverage to soften the blow of his inevitable loss. They signed former New England Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins, a player who has been outstanding in coverage and as a blitzer for New England over his career but struggled when traded to the Cleveland Browns. He’s an intriguing option for a Lions team that needed an injection of talent into their linebacking corps. The hope is that the transition to Matt Patricia’s defense is smoother than the one Collins made four seasons ago in Cleveland.

Detroit then addressed the secondary with two more moves, trading for Patriots safety Duron Harmon (shocker, I know) and signing former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant. Both players were drafted in 2013, and neither has recorded an overall grade of 65.0 or lower over the course of their NFL careers, rarely dipping below 70.0.

Harmon has been a rangy playmaker on the back end of the Patriots’ defense at free safety. He is one of just eight safeties with 10 or more regular-season interceptions over the past three seasons. Trufant is a 6-foot cornerback who came into the NFL with sub-4.4 speed, and he figures to fit well into a Lions defense that plays a lot of press-man coverage. He’s not quite the same player as Slay, but he has shown in Atlanta that he is fully capable of being the No. 1 guy on the outside. Both players, along with Collins, should improve the Lions coverage in 2020 despite the loss of their top player.”

Detroit made some draft picks to aid the spot with Jeff Okudah and Julian Okwara coming into the mix along with John Penisini. That group figures to play a role and could be better than many think.

Lions 2019 Defense Finished Statistically Horrible

Detroit had nearly the worst defense in the league by most metrics in 2019. As a whole, the Lions allowed too much yardage, giving up 6,406 yards on the year. As was pointed out, to put up numbers like that, it means the team has been giving up over 400 yards of offense a game.

Additionally, Detroit’s pass defense bottomed out as a league-worst outfit in 2019. The team allowed nearly 300 yards a game through the air, which is a miserable total.

Certainly, injuries helped complicate matters for Detroit’s defense, but that’s not an acceptable excuse for such awful numbers. Expectations were high for the Lions in 2019 given how they finished the season, and the team has taken steps to reconstruct things in the meantime.

The hope is Mack can become a hidden gem that emerges for the team.

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