Much-Maligned Veteran Amongst Top 5 Lions Heading for Career Years

Jeff Okudah

Getty Jeff Okudah playing in a Lions preseason game in 2022.

The Detroit Lions have set their 53 man roster, have gotten through training camp and the preseason. Now, the only thing left to do is see what happens on the field of play.

Looking at the team’s roster, there are no shortage of players who figure to be able to make a huge impact for the team. Only a select few, however, will earn the title of talents heading for a career year.

Which players will have a career year? Here’s a look at picking out the Lions players best positioned to have a major season, and what they could be expected to do statistically this fall.

DJ Chark, Wide Receiver

In the past, DJ Chark has already been a Pro Bowl talent. Injuries, however, have slowed any tangible momentum the wideout has made, which played out in 2021.

This time, though, will be different. Chark is looking like a good bet to have a huge season. In training camp, he was a big play machine for the offense. During the preseason, the Lions smartly didn’t risk him. That means they likely feel great about where things are trending.

Chark is going to have a monster season for Jared Goff and the new-look Lions’ offense.

Final 2022 stats: 1,200 yards, 10 touchdowns.

D’Andre Swift, Running Back

It has felt like all D’Andre Swift really needs to get going is a healthy, durable season. It didn’t happen in 2021, but 2022 could bring that for the talented running back.

Swift beefed up and looks ready to run between the tackles in addition to catching passes out of the backfield. With this in mind, it’s going to be a big dual-threat year for the running back, who is going to make his presence felt in a big way and enjoy his best season in the league so far.

Final 2022 stats: 855 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns. 530 receiving yards, four receiving touchdowns.

Alim McNeill, Defensive Tackle

As a rookie, Alim McNeill was already very solid and was a building block for Detroit up front. Now that he is heading into his sophomore year, his impact will be felt even more.

McNeill is not only going to show himself as a valuable space eater, but a lineman capable of providing a pocket push as well. It will be an eye-opening season for McNeill that will culminate in the lineman’s first Pro Bowl birth.

Final 2022 stats: 85 tackles, six sacks, four forced fumbles.

Derrick Barnes, Linebacker

While rookie phenom Malcolm Rodriguez stole all of the headlines during training camp and the preseason, Derrick Barnes quietly went about his business and had just as good an offseason.

Barnes is looking like a player angling toward being able to play a big role for the defense. Given the need for playmakers at his position, the hopes are high that Barnes can put all the lessons he collected in 2021 to good use.

Final 2022 stats: 90 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions, eight passes defended.

Jeff Okudah, Cornerback

If ever there was a player who needed a breakout, it was Jeff Okudah. The good news? This year, the cornerback will finally deliver now that he has come back off injury.

In the preseason and camp, Okudah locked down a starting role, and now the defense will watch him run with it. Expect Okudah to make plenty of big plays and play the sticky coverage that Big Ten fans were accustomed to.

Okudah will not only put up stats, but figure as a team leader as well. It will be a major comeback story for the youngster, and one that could help Detroit’s defense over the top.

Final 2022 stats: 70 tackles, four interceptions, 12 passes defended.

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